New Peterborough auction house hopes to build on local heritage

July 28—PETERBOROUGH — A local couple are bidding on their burgeoning auction business to take over a former auction house that was disbanded in the spring, starting with a silverware sale, jewelry and artwork this weekend.

Peterborough Auctions, co-founded by Molly Williams and Nick Prior of Peterborough, aims to take over from The Cobbs Auctioneers, where Williams and Prior worked until owners Charlie and Dudley Cobb retired in April, closing their business. Williams said she and Prior have been expecting this and have started making plans for their own business over the past few years.

“[Prior] worked for [the Cobbs] for eight years and I worked for seven years, and we both love art and antiques,” Williams said. I think Charlie is very happy that we are in the area to help his customers, and they have been very supportive. We’re taking a slightly more modern and up-to-date approach, engaging in social media and more online promotion with our customer base.”

People can view items available in the inaugural sale of Peterborough Auctions at the auction house space at Noone Falls Mill at 50 Jaffrey Road, Suite 5 Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Williams said Peterborough Auctions’ first-ever sale includes 283 lots of items up for auction, which include individual pieces and groups of items. The auction includes 150 lots of silver cutlery, bowls and teapots, with works of art making up the rest of the lots. The auction itself will begin at noon on Saturday, with bids being accepted online and over the phone. No live attendance at the Peterborough Auctions space will take place.

Looking ahead, Williams said the couple hopes to ship a mix of local items, as well as domestic and international pieces, similar to the Cobbs’ offerings.

“It’s really interesting to have local artists and ephemera…because a lot of them end up in landfill or kind of float away lost from the community,” Williams said. “It’s also fun to find rare things from Europe or anywhere and have a chance to handle things you normally couldn’t.”

Before moving to New Hampshire, Prior worked in New York for Bonhams, a private auction house with multiple locations around the world, Williams said. While visiting a friend in the state, he discovered The Cobbs Auctioneers, which he joined in 2013 on a part-time basis before going full-time and handling design and photography.

Williams joined The Cobbs in 2015 as chief operating officer and head of its jewelry department. She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, now the Institute of Art and Design at New England College, with a bachelor’s degree in photography and jewellery. Together, Williams said she and her partner have a total of 22 years of auction experience.

Since their time at The Cobbs Auctioneers, which was also in Noone Falls Mill, Williams said she and Prior felt they had a solid foundation on which to build their own auction house.

“I think having worked with The Cobbs for a few years has been a really good base for the local community to [become] familiar to me,” she said. “We kind of started the business at [The Cobbs’] last auction, so we were able to make an announcement to those who were there.”

Williams said the auction house plans to hold its major quarterly sales, although it may also hold specialty auctions featuring individual collectors in between. Potential sellers interested in consigning items with Peterborough Auctions can contact Williams and Prior by email and send photos and a brief description of what they are looking to sell.

Tim Nail can be reached at 352-1234, ext. 1436, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @timmnail.