Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood was formed by the merger of two auction houses, Bearne's and Hampton & Littlewood, in 2009, bringing together expertise from the two firms to form the largest auction house in the South West of England. The firm covers Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset, and utilises online platforms to attract buyers from around the world.
Hampton & Littlewood had been established in Exeter since 2001, specialising in antique books, maritime items and sporting memorabilia, while Bearne's has a longer history. The firm can chart its history back to the establishment of Bearne's auction rooms in Torquay, in 1945. The firm's first record at auction came in 1963 with the sale of a Spode dinner service from Saltram House on behalf of The National Trust for £3,400. Over the years, Bearne's specialists have unearthed several other important works of art, including an unrecorded Hogarth portrait, which sold in 1967 for £24,000. In 1968 Bearne's identified a wooden Hawaiian bowl, which Captain Cook had brought back to England from his third voyage, and had been in the collection of Sir Ashton Lever; it sold for £15,000, which at that time was a world record for any item of ethnographic art.
In 1976, Bearne's formed a close association with Sotheby's, and the Torquay business operated under the name of Sotheby Bearne until 1982. Bearne's later relocated to Exeter, where it still conducts its sales in purpose-built salerooms.
As a founding member of the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers (SOFAA), Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood is committed to the highest standards of ethics, probity and performance and have a long track record for identifying, valuing and selling fine art, antiques and collectables.