Going Going Gone! The CGars Winter Auction

- By Nick Hammond
Cigar Journal

Going Going Gone! The CGars Winter Auction

Macanudo Inspirado Launch
Scandinavian Tobacco Group

The C.Gars winter Auction will be held on Monday 30th November at the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge and taking the auction will be Jonathon Humbert who is C.Gars Consultant Auctioneer and I decided it was time to sit down for a cigar and a couple of pints and find out what it is that makes a cigar auction go with a swing! Jonathan is the fifth generation of his family to work as an auctioneer. His family started as cattle auctioneers going back all the way to 1842. Jonathan himself started his life in farming and then moved into the auction business via antiques.

He started his own auction house, JP Humbert, based in Northampton and as well as sales of antiques, art and jewellery selling a regular 30,000 lots each year. Johnathan is also the principal auctioneer at Silverstone auctions with sales of classic cars often amounting to up to £30 million in a single sale. He is also the auctioneer for Chris Evans 'Carfest' charity auction. His move into the cigar auction world came as a result of a casual call to C.Gars looking for some lots to kick off the proceeding at a car auction. A few cigar lots were entered into the auction, and some even sold. Jonathon forgot about cigars until many months later he got a call from Mitchell Orchant who was looking for a new auctioneer to run his twice yearly auction.

A meet up at C.Gars and what Johnathon describes as Mitch's "wonderfully smelly office" sealed the deal and Jonathan took charge of his first cigar auction two years ago Boisdale in Canary Wharf. He admits that being new to the cigar world one of his big issues is the pronunciation of some of the more exotic brands and vitolas and he needs to have his wits about him to sell 300 lots in a two hour sale. But he was delighted to find that at his first cigar auction every lot was covered by commission bids, up to and in many cases over the reserves. In the car world Jonathan says it is quite usual to be happy with a 75% sale rate so to come to cigar auctions and regularly achieve between 98% and 100% is exceptional.

He has now done five auctions with the last one moving into the luxurious surroundings of the Bulgari Hotel which seats 150 in air conditioned comfort.Johnathon admits that both him and for the auction trade as a whole, the twice yearly cigar auctions have been a real eye opener. He finds it remarkable that there is such a strong market for the twice yearly catalogues of 300 rare and vintage cigars with cigar lovers and collectors flying to London. He clearly loves the live auction for cigars when so much of his regular trade has moved online. It's clear that although the sales are hard work for an auctioneer he loves the 'cut and thrust of a 'live' room full of serious bidders.

The final catalogue for this year's action has yet to be released but we have managed to get hold of pictures of two of the more amazing pre embargo lots. A La Corona box containing three different sizes of vitola and an extraordinary box of Romeo y Julieta cigars. Jonathan says the bit of the auction he enjoys most is the hammer going down on the last lot and knowing he has got through all the possible foibles of the various 'interesting' cigar names. Then he looks forward to the heading up the stairs to the Edward Sahakian Cigar store and lounge for a large gin and tonic and a celebratory cigar. Nic Wing was in conversation with Jonathan Humbert over pints of Timothy Taylor Landlord and Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills.

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