Jonathan Pratt FRICS FGA

Managing Director



BBC TV series Lovejoy, starring Ian McShane, inspired a teenage Jonathan to forge a career within the auction world.

An experienced Managing Director, Jonathan is also an Auctioneer and Valuer of great repute, and able to provide expert sales advice in respect of fine art, antiques, and jewellery.



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Why are you working within the auction world?

I have always loved art, but it was in 1986 with the first series of Lovejoy when I first considered a career in the auction world. I was 14 years old and was fascinated by the stories so in 1991 I moved to Southampton to study a Diploma in Fine Art & Chattels Valuation and the rest is history.


Within your career to date, which item would you class as your favourite? 

My career spans 30 years and a wide spectrum of objects so there a lot to choose from but I look back to my formative years for my favourite discoveries. My first choice is a carpet I found on a routine house clearance in about 2000. There was little left in the house except for a bedroom suite, a few pieces of broken ceramics and some books, however on the floor was a dirty carpet that was ‘going in the skip’. I have always loved Persian carpets, and this was a room size Tabriz! With a clean it revealed a lovely golden colour and a signature for the master weaver Haji Jalali. We later sold it for £8,500, but it could have ended up in the bin! My second choice is a really funky piece of furniture I found in an old chicken shed in the middle of a field about 15 years ago. It was a tall column of drawers made by the renowned modern designer John Makepeace. It stood about 5-foot 6 high and was made of plywood with a steel column in one corner that the drawers hinged around, each with a brightly coloured acrylic base. It was made in about 1970 and created enormous interest in the auction, eventually selling for £10,000. I have found and sold many more valuable items, some I knew at the time what they were and others I found out later! Experience is important and I have always believed you need to ‘know what you don’t know’ to be really good at what you do.

What first attracted you to your speciality?

I have always considered myself a general valuer. Of course, in this business there is simply too much to learn, and every day is a school day. I started reading about Persian carpets in the mid-nineties whilst working in Edinburgh and it is still one of my favourite subjects today, however Jewellery has been my main specialism. I was working at an auction room in Guildford in the late-nineties and was offered the opportunity to study for an FGA (Fellowship of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain). I already had an interest from studying jewellery at college and loved the combination of science and history. Valuing Jewellery and silver have probably taken up most of my time in the past 20 years and proven to be a useful skill in advising clients when combined with a general valuation knowledge.

A French Art Deco platinum and multi gem Egyptian revival pendant
A French Art Deco Egyptian revival pendant

Sold for £39,500

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What aspect of your career do you find most satisfying?

I love working with talented people and seeing teamwork make a business shine.

"I love working with talented people and seeing teamwork make a business shine."

If money were no object, what would you most like to buy?

I would buy a large bronze sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, for the garden! Hepworth is perhaps the best known and respected of female British sculptors whose work graces some of the best collections and public spaces around the country. Dawsons sold a lovely albeit much smaller (11cm high) example in June 2022 for £36,000. I think every garden is enhanced by sculpture and I have just the spot prepared!

What should a potential collector/buyer look to purchase? Why?

Firstly, I firmly believe that everyone should be furnishing their homes at auction. It is the most environmentally sustainable marketplace, and the items are made to last. Once you have your home looking lovely and full of art, you might consider buying some exquisite pieces of jewellery. Gifts can also be investments, and it is important to make sure you speak to an expert valuer - Dawsons have a team of highly skilled valuers who would be delighted to hear from you.   


What are the best items to sell via an auction house?

Fine antique jewellery from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries are now particularly rare and signed pieces achieve the best results. Big, coloured stones such as rubies and sapphires are achieving strong prices especially if part of a signed piece. One should also not overlook the value of selling a ‘collection’ rather than selling pieces individually. A collection can represent an historical snapshot or a collector’s passion and it is this story that adds value to a sale with the collection’s provenance adding value to each individual piece.


Barbara Hepworth DBE (1903-1975) British, 'Two Forms (Atlantic)'
Barbara Hepworth DBE (1903-1975) British, 'Two Forms (Atlantic)'

Sold for £36,000

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What are your valuables worth?

Request a free auction estimate from our team of specialists, or contact us to book an appointment. If your item is suitable for auction, we will provide you with a valuation and further details of how to sell with us.