One of the good news stories amidst the modern retail landscape is that buying vintage long ago transcended mere trend and, now happily entrenched, is here to stay. Buying on eBay, Vinted and all manner of other sites for pre-loved wares has been comprehensively normalised, while over on Instagram, sellers of second-hand interiors pieces are doing a roaring trade, with the most successful amongst them selling to highly engaged followings, typically in a matter of minutes. All of which is, of course, excellent news for the environment, the life of products that might otherwise have been discarded now hugely extended and thus lessening the need for new manufacture and the carbon footprint that entails.

None of this is anything new, of course. We have long bought antiques; what has changed, however, is their ready availability and the spectrum of pieces, from the high end to the charmingly vintage and well-loved. The major auction houses, such as Christie’s, Bonham’s and Sotheby’s, have long and illustrious form in purveying very fine pieces that have a past and thus character and stories to tell. Such hallowed institutions can, though, be daunting, with their track record of selling rarefied items selling for dizzying prices.

This, then, is where smaller, more regional auction houses come into play. If you’re in the market to go treasure-hunting for pre-loved artwork or decorative pieces, these are the auction houses to know and the sales to have on your alerts.

Chiswick Auctions

With 80 sales per year, Chiswick Auctions has a broad remit, from Old Master paintings to books, Islamic and Indian art right the way through to silver and jewellery. You can check out its auction calendar here, as well as browsing its fascinating catalogues.


Based in Oxford, Mallams dates back to 1788 when it was founded by Richard Mallam on St Aldate’s. Today, it specialises in paintings and sculpture, ceramics and glass, modern and post-war art, 20th-century design, silver and jewellery, furniture and garden statuary, Chinese, Japanese and Islamic art, clocks and barometers, books, manuscripts, and collectables. Its sweep is broad and its expertise deep and varied, making it one of the most well-respected auction houses outside London. Explore its forthcoming sales here.

Gorringe’s Auctions

Rowland Gorringe, founder of the Lewes-based Gorringe’s Auctions, started out as an estate agent (in fact, the agency that bears his name is still operational in the East Sussex market town). But when an eccentric, wealthy American, Edward Warren, instructed Gorringe to dispose of the entire contents of his house after his death over a three-day sale in 1929, a new arm of the business opened up. Over the years it has claimed some historic sales, including £24,000 for a lock of John Lennon’s hair; £7,000 for a walking stick once owned by Virginia Woolf; £82,000 for George Orwell’s first published book – Down and Out in Paris and London; and £240,000 for a Queen Anne 1702 Vigo gold crown. For more in that tradition, as well as some humbler pieces, you can explore its forthcoming sales here.

Dominic Winter

Based at Cotswold Water Park in Gloucestershire, the eponymous late Dominic Winter founded his own auction house in 1988. Known particularly for its monthly book auctions, which incorporate maps, decorative prints, autographs and historical documents, it also holds regular sales of rare and historical objects and collectables, as well as fine arts and antiques. Explore its forthcoming sales here.


Since its inception in 1953, the Norfolk-based Keys – known as a top-tier auction house – has been selling beautiful, elegant and sometimes important pieces via a regular roster of both general and specialist sales. Its expertise spans the disparate likes of books, maps and works on paper through to fine art to silver and jewellery. Explore its forthcoming sales here.


With specialities spanning fine art, furniture, sculpture, ceramics, jewellery, watches, clocks, wine, manuscripts, books and live steam and model engineering, the Berkshire-based Dreweatts has every base covered when it comes to buying well-crafted and pre-loved decorative pieces. Its auctions take place at Donnington Priory, which makes a journey there worth it for the poking-around-a-picturesque-country-pile possibilities alone, even without the prospect of coming home laden with lovely things. Explore its forthcoming sales here.