Mail Boxes Etc. (MBE) Stratford-upon-Avon recently had the opportunity to witness history in the making. Cynneth Bonanos’ store partnered with West Midlands auction house, Cuttlestones, to provide pack and ship services for a very interesting one-off auction.
MBE is one of the world’s largest non-food retail franchises with over 1,500 stores in five continents including over 150 in the UK and Ireland. They are the only high-street chain that offers consumers and local companies a truly comprehensive range of business services. Their high-street, one-stop-shop concept offers a mix of logistics, postal, print and copy services to help meet people’s every day needs.
The sale, which attracted an international audience of bidders, included lots derived primarily of arms and armour held within a single, private collection that spans various periods and continents. It included a set of 19th Century Horse armour, which comes complete with knight in full suit of armour and was formerly housed at The Metropolitan Museum, New York. Also included was the world’s largest trebuchet arm, a giant crossbow designed by Leonardo da Vinci, and several 18th Century flintlock pistols, alongside a host of other fascinating items.
Cynneth and his team from MBE Stratford-upon-Avon were there on the day to help remote bidders from private collectors to public museums, snap up their favourite lots with confidence, partnering with Cuttlestones to ensure that all lots were collected, packed and shipped to their lucky new owners – wherever in the world they might have been!
“As a local business, we thought it was great to have a presence at the auction. We had pre-priced the lots in advance so that we could give quotes for packing and shipping in both the UK and overseas quickly,” explains Cynneth.
The collection was sold because the museum wanted their exhibitions to focus on three key periods – the Civil War and World Wars I and II.
“Packing everything up from the auction kept us busy for at least a month after the auction and it really tested our limits. The auction really boosted our sales for the month. Suits of armour and cannons are not something we package up everyday! However, it’s not too difficult because a suit of armour is extremely light and you can custom-build the box. Some of the weirdest items we packaged were a stuffed Dodo and Heron – the person who bought the Dodo wanted it to keep in his house,” adds Cynneth.
MBE’s experience and expertise in packing and shipping is unrivalled and they assist key clients such as world-renowned auction house Sotheby’s and, working together with Nike, assisted in increasing their in-store sales of Nike id by 80% through offering a click, design and ship service worldwide. They are full members of the British Franchise Association, promoting ethical franchising and are the only national network of Pack & Ship stores approved by UPS, Parcelforce Worldwide and FedEx.
“The diversity of the collection really was astonishing. There was everything from tribal and oriental armour through to medieval suits of armour and heavy artillery, and even lots with a Shakespearean connection. This was a once-in-a-lifetime sale of items and the fact that the items hail from a single, private collection and have been housed in a museum for several years. Add to that the rarity of many of the items and we saw global buyers out in force,” adds Ben Gamble, managing director and head auctioneer at Cuttlestones Auctioneers and Valuers.