New Peterborough auction house hopes to build on local legacy

·3 min read

Jul. 28—PETERBOROUGH — A local couple is bidding on their burgeoning auction business to take up the mantle of a previous longtime auction house that dissolved in the spring, beginning with a sale of silver, jewelry and fine art this weekend.

Peterborough Auctions, co-founded by Molly Williams and Nick Prior of Peterborough, aims to succeed The Cobbs Auctioneers, where Williams and Prior worked until owners Charlie and Dudley Cobb retired in April, shuttering their business. Williams said she and Prior had expected this and began developing plans for their own business over the past several years.

"[Prior] worked for [the Cobbs] for eight years and I worked for seven years, and we both have a love of art and antiques," Williams said. "I think Charlie is very happy we're in the area to help his clients, and they've been very supportive. We are taking a slightly more modern and newer approach, engaging in social media and more online promotion with our client base."

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

Williams said Peterborough Auctions' first-ever sale features 283 lots of items to be auctioned, which include individual pieces and groups of objects. The auction comprises 150 lots of silver flatware, bowls and teapots, with fine art making up the remainder of the lots. The auction itself will start Saturday at noon, with absentee bids accepted online and over the phone. No live participation at Peterborough Auctions' space will occur.

Looking ahead, Williams said the couple hopes to consign a mix of local items, as well as national and international pieces, similar to the Cobbs' offerings.

"It is really interesting to have local artists and ephemera ... because a lot of that ends up at the dump or floating around kind of lost from the community," Williams said. "It's also fun to find rare things from Europe or all over and have a chance to handle things you wouldn't normally be able to."

Before moving to New Hampshire, Prior worked in New York City for Bonhams, a private auction house with several locations worldwide, Williams said. Visiting a friend in the state he learned about The Cobbs Auctioneers, which he joined in 2013 part-time before becoming full-time and managing design and photography.

Williams joined The Cobbs in 2015 as its director of operations 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 jewelry. Combined, Williams said she and her partner have a total 22 years of auction experience.

From their time at The Cobbs Auctioneers, which was also at Noone Falls Mill, Williams said she and Prior feel they have a solid base on which to establish their own auction house.

"I think having worked with The Cobbs for some years was a really good foundation for the local community to [become] familiar with me," she said. "We sort of launched 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 anticipates holding its main sales quarterly, though it may also have specialty auctions featuring individual collectors in between. Prospective 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're looking to sell.

Tim Nail can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1436, or tnail@keenesentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter at @timmnail.