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Employment at Railtons

Work Experience and Intern Placements

Many students want to pursue a career in the fine arts and it helps them enormously to say on their CVs that either they have been a porter at an antiques auctioneers, or that they have done some cataloguing at a fine art auction house. We can help, as we always short of hands! Whether it be a holiday job or a more long-term placement, we usually can give someone the “hands on” experience that is so useful for someone wanting to work in the arts. And obviously we are then hopefully able to give a good reference to the person that has been assisting us. Several former assistants at out sales have gone on to London to work at Sotheby’s and Christies as well as other regional salerooms. And we have a gallery manager and a museum curator who are on our alumni!

Business Development Opportunities: Director

We basically have too much to do and there are opportunities for someone out there with energy who loves antiques & fine art, and who has the right contacts and professionalism to help expand and bring the business to a different level. For the past 16 years Jim Railton has built up a peripatetic auctioneering and valuation operation with a territory from Darlington (where he ran the northern Phillips valuation office) to the Scottish Borders. Auctions have been held very successfully in venues ranging from Brancepeth Castle to Newcastle Racecourse, from Chillingham Castle to Springwood Park in Kelso.

The antiques and valuation business is very much a ‘peoples business’ and clients tend to use someone that they know. Jim Railton does probate and sales valuations all over the UK (and even in France) and gets instructions from personal contacts. Families tend to use him for all their antiques related business; so when that maiden aunt dies in Devon they ask Jim to be there and access what to do with the house contents. Or a special family picture that needs to be marketed in London – he often advises the vendors about where to place such an item and how to get the maximum price.

However there is much business that is missed out on, basically because there is not enough time. A senior role within the Railton organisation is a possibility, leading to a partnership. It would ideally suit a solicitor or professional who wants to become an auctioneer, and who loves the antiques and fine art world. The basic circuit that Railtons have built up could be handed over to someone with flair and enthusiasm, and there is tremendous business potential out there – it is almost like a blank canvas. The internet is swiftly changing the way chattels are marketed, we are developing a cutting edge website that will knock spots off competitors.

It is an interesting time for the antiques & fine art world, with decorative tastes changing and the green movement on the rise – we are basically in the recycling business, which hasn't yet penetrated to the mass market. And regionally we could take over the patch without too much effort, and reach tentacles out to grow further. It just needs that input from someone with equal vision, contacts and ambition. So have a chat to Jim Railton – it could result in you going places apart from up onto a rostrum. And aside from anything else – it is fun.

Business Development Opportunities: Regional Valuers

There are also opportunities at a not so involved level, for others to get involved as regional valuers or agents. As mentioned above – it is very much a "who you know" business and being in the right place at the right time. The amount of occasions that clients have said that "I only wish that I had given you the stuff". But then it is too late, and items have gone. There is often only one opportunity, and I liken it to stuff or logs floating down a river, and you have a chance to cast at it; but you might miss; or you might connect. But the log is past only too quickly and is gone.

Regional reps work on a shared commission basis. So for example, recently our friend or rep in Whitley Bay knew of a lady down her road moving into a residential nursing home, and introduced us to the job and the family. It was local intelligence that got us into the house and we dealt with the client’s lawyer, etc. The local friend helped us pack the treasures and sort through the house. And she got half the commission in her pocket when we sold the items which came to over four figures – £1239.00 to be precise! She is currently eagerly seeking more jobs in her patch!

And we are hoping to create a circuit of such friends covering the whole region. Once the network list is established and the whole territory is covered, then we are going to publish and promote the list of Regional Valuers. So if you are interested in antiques and think that you could bring some business our way – get in touch.

Business Development Opportunities: Specialists

We are looking to develop more specialist sales, so if you have knowledge or an interest in a particular field, then we are prepared to hand that field over to you. It could be ceramics. It could be jewellery or paintings. Or militaria. Or even architectural. In fact, any subject matter whereby we can develop a theme sale, we are happy to hand over the curatorship to an individual with that particular speciality.

So for example, we have a lady who has recently catalogued all the toys in our forthcoming July sale. She is an expert in dolls & toys, and we offered her the opportunity to put that section together. As a result, all toys that come in our direction are channelled through her. We are also discussing the same sort of opportunity with someone who wants to become our sporting specialist. So they will put together the first Northern Sporting Sale to include guns, fishing tackle and all general hunting shooting & fishing items, etc.

Ideally this would suit someone who has a huge interest and enthusiasm for their subject matter. Perhaps they have worked in a fine art field in London and have come to live in the sticks, and they want to keep their hand in? Or they are just an amateur who loves the particular subject? Or someone who wants to develop an interest. Contact us now, and we will see what can be done. We could even host an erotica sale! But I doubt many would own up to being a specialist in that subject matter.

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