Lowestoft auctioneer from Earsham makes final sale

Auctioneer Russell Sprake from Bungay is set to retire after more than 50 years.

Auctioneer Russell Sprake from Bungay is set to retire after more than 50 years. - Credit: Nick Butcher

An auctioneer has raised and lowered his gavel for the last time last as he auctioned 53 lots of Lowestoft Porcelain.

Russell Sprake, of Lowestoft-based RH Sprake, held his 52nd and last sale of Lowestoft Porcelain at Parkhill Hotel in Oulton last night.

Since 1984 he specialised in the auction of porcelain made in Lowestoft in the 18th century and saw people from around the world bidding for the handmade items.

Last night's auction included 40 lots that had been found in two tea chests in a home near Lowestoft in March and which were valued at between £30,000 and £40,000.

Mr Sprake, whose business is based in St Peters Street and who lives in Earsham, near Bungay, described the find as 'Christmas had come early'.

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The highlight of Mr Sprake's auctions over the years was in October 2011 when a bottle and basin made in about 1764 and painted by Robert Allen sold for a world record bid of £34,000.

Although Mr Sprake, 76, has retired as an auctioneer, he will still be selling Lowestoft porcelain from a shop in Bungay and hopes to work as a consultant.

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His wife of 40 years Zoe and his children Eloise, Alex and Ronan have all helped run the business.

He said: 'I won't be sad it is over. But I am privileged to have turned my passion into a career.'

Mr Sprake wanted to thank his family and friends for their support, including family friend Graham Quayle who flew from his home in new Zealand to act as saleroom porter for one more time.

Describing the last ever auction of Lowestoft Porcelain by Mr Sprake, his wife said: 'I am trying not to think about it too much.

'We have enjoyed our time at the auctions and received so much support from people.'

Mr Sprake got his love of antiques from his mother Doris.

He started his career as an auctioneer in 1961 at Robert Bond and Sons in Ipswich before moving to Notleys in Lowestoft.

After setting up his business in 1979 RH Sparke started specialising in Lowestoft Porcelain auctions in 1984.

Lowestoft Porcelain was first established in 1757 and produced household pieces such as teapots, tea bowls, cups and saucers and personalised birth tablets at a factory in Crown Street, before closing in 1802.

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