House contents of a stalwart collector goes to auction in new social distancing sale format

19 May 2020
The Joan Dunk Collector goes on sale at Special Auction Services
House contents of a stalwart collector goes to auction in new social distancing sale format Images

The house contents of Joan Dunk – a stalwart of Portobello Road Antique Market - will go under the hammer at Special Auction Services in Newbury on 9th and 10th June 2020 and is expected to fetch £90,000. 

The auction will take place live with bidding online only via or at

SAS is also offering appointments for viewing, in accordance with current social distancing rules, which can be booked by calling 01635 580595 or emailing [email protected].

For decades Joan had an outside pitch on the corner of Westbourne Grove and only moved to the indoor market in recent years. As well as selling antiques for a living she also collected them for enjoyment; with her husband a train collector, their tiny London terrace house was packed from floor to ceiling.

Her first serious collection began in 1965 with old teddy bears (two decades before they became ‘collectable’) and one of the highlights going under the hammer on the first day of the auction is a beautiful Steiff cinnamon centre-seam teddy bear circa 1908 which is estimated at £3,000-4,000. As well as collecting teddy bears, Joan also had an extensive toy collection; a Bing clockwork teddy bear with tinplate ball carries an estimate of £700-1,000, whilean 1860s Grodnerthal wooden doll is expected to fetch £800-1,000. The living room shelves were filled with clockwork toys, shallow wall mounted display cabinets were filled with lead toy figures including Felix the Cat amongst other comic and civilian characters. A 1930s Tipp & Co ‘Silver Queen’ clockwork tinplate charabanc (£200-300), a rare 1930s Chad Valley Ooloo the cat, girlfriend of Bonzo the dog (£300-500) and a 1930s Kuramochi celluloid clockwork Circus Elephant (£150-200) are also fine examples of items going under the hammer.

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In addition to teddy bears and toys, the first day of the auction (9th June) will comprise dolls, dolls' houses, cake decorations and everything childhood which she enjoyed collecting with her second husband Peter. Joan had a charming cabinet filled with bisque Christmas cake decorations and all sorts of intriguing miniatures and ephemeral curios which will appeal to all bidders.

The second day (10th) will offer kitchenalia, smoothing implements, grinders, moulds, spectacles, paperclips, die shakers, kaleidoscopes, Brownies (imp-like characters), curios and pottery with estimates ranging from £30-300. Examples include a rare 1880s George Tinworth for Doulton Lambeth ‘Play Goers’ mice at a Punch and Judy booth (£800-1200); an early C G Bush & Co kaleidoscope (c.1870) estimated at £300-400; a 19th century straw work table top bureau with an estimate of £300-500; a cast-iron shop counter-top coffee grinder, circa 1898 expected to fetch £200-£300; and a set of six teddy bear chocolate moulds which carry an estimate of £100-150.

Expert Daniel Agnew says, “The excitement about this auction is reaching a crescendo. It is rare to see a collection of such desirable and eclectic items that are fresh to the market and accumulated by such an expert eye. Collectors have been stuck at home for the last few months and they are desperate to buy themselves new treasures, so I anticipate frenzied bidding over the two days.”