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‘Prop-art’ for sale at Duke’s Auctioneers

PUBLISHED: 15:59 23 October 2014


A collection of over 120 original pub mirrors, decorative glass panes, signs and architectural fittings that have been used for many years as props in films, television programmes and theatre productions are set to go on sale at Duke’s Auctioneers on Tuesday 28 October.

The Grove saleroom will offer bidders the chance to purchase unusual, striking and highly decorative items that will provide an unusual feature for any building or interior.

For most of the pieces, the sale will be another chapter in a life which has seen the rise and fall of both the pub and the British television industry. Originally created by specialist skilled craftsmen the doors, mirrors and glass panes are superbly decorative showing skills that are seldom encountered today.

This large collection of doors, mirrors and other interior pieces has recently been consigned to Duke’s from a prestigious prop hire company based in London. The pieces were discovered in an unused part of their 25,000 sq. ft. warehouse, which was described by one employee as ‘Aladdin’s cave-esque’. Lost in this cave of wonders, it is estimated that the collection has been left untouched for 10-15 years, their period public house aesthetic seen as unfashionable due to changes in client demand. Additions to the regulations surrounding television and film production mean that production companies find it hard to use named brands and wording in productions without express permission. Furthermore, real glass windows and panes are increasingly dismissed in favour of durable Perspex options, which are safer on a busy set. The smoking ban and the increasing rarity of televised public smoking is another reason for a drop of interest in these props – a beautiful etched glass window reading ‘Smoking Lounge’ is a magnificent relic from a long gone era of British society. The pieces mark a period in television and public life when the pub featured more heavily, and played an important social role.

The accumulation of these items in the 1960’s and 1970’s allowed an unrivalled collection to be formed at a time when many pubs were modernising their interiors for the first time. Today these items are surprisingly rare and examples in good condition are seldom seen at auction. Many of the pieces will have been regularly seen on your screen in big television and film names from the 60s onwards, however there is more to them than their significance as objects of British filmic and television history. Dukes auctioneer Matthew Denney commented:

‘This is an extraordinary collection of Victorian pub mirrors and doors, they have been collected together over many years, and it must be a unique gathering of items of this type. Amongst the many different pub signs and assorted doors there are some remarkable pieces, there are large windows and mirrors with decorative cut and etched decoration that show the ability of these long forgotten craftsmen at their very best. It is remarkable that these pieces have survived without getting broken over the years, and I am sure they will go on to be included in new homes and buildings to add a unique element of decoration and originality.’

Displayed together in the saleroom, they provide a beautiful window into a forgotten world of the public house, and also deliver a peak into the life of the thriving British television industry in the 60s and 70s. With estimated ranging from just £20 – 40 up to many hundreds of pounds there will be items to suit all collectors and those with the desire for a unique and impressive historic item in their home are sure to find something to excite them.


For more information and enquiries, please phone Duke’s The Grove Saleroom on 01305 257 544, or email

Viewing for this sale will take place 9:30-12:00 on the 25 October and 9:00 – 7:00 on the 27 of October.


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