Morphets' Story

Morphets' Story

In 1895 Messrs Wood and Mason opened for business as auctioneers and estate agents at 19 Station Square, Harrogate. In 1917 Mr Ward, then the sole owner, advertised for a buyer or partner for the business as he was expecting to be called up for service with the Colours

Horatio Morphet left his own practice in Kirkby Lonsdale and purchased the Harrogate business for the princely sum of £450. Two years later his son, Horace Taylor Morphet joined him and in 1923 the firm was renamed Morphet and Morphet.

New premises were sought and the following year the business moved to the site of the old Christian Science Church at No 4 Albert Street with a second saleroom at 27 Oxford Street. In the 1940s the business relocated to its present day site with the acquisition of no 6 Albert Street, Harrogate.

Such was the growth of Morphets that in 1954 four senior members of staff were invited to become partners and in 1964 Horace ‘Bob’ Morphet retired leaving the firm under the direction of the three remaining partners to continue the success of the business. 

It was in 1979 that Elizabeth Pepper-Darling joined the business and appointed as assistant to the auctioneers she began her training as a valuer both in-house and in London. The 1980s saw Morphets merge with a nationwide network of estate agencies and auctioneers. In the mid 1990s the opportunity to return Morphets to an independent auction house arose and on January 1st 1995 Elizabeth Pepper-Darling, then senior valuer, along with auctioneer Robert Woods purchased the business. Robert Woods retired in 1997 leaving Elizabeth to direct a team of consultants and salesroom staff to build on the strong traditions of personal and professional service that have long been the foundation stones of Morphets and have made them one of the leading regional auction houses in the country.

Today Morphets sell for clients across the North to buyers around the world from their saleroom and offices on Albert Street and is headed up by Elizabeth Pepper-Darling, Managing Director and Valuer.

Morphets' Valuation Team

Elizabeth Pepper-Darling

A member of the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers, Elizabeth entered the profession in 1979 and trained in-house and in London as a general valuer. Her particular interests are art and 20th century design. Elizabeth is actively involved in supporting the development of the market for contemporary art at auction and is on the selection committee and judging panel of the annual Platform Open Art Exhibition.


 John Mason

A Fellow of the Gem Association, John specialises in jewellery and watches. With over 40 years’ experience in retail and latterly in auctioneering, John is available to advise clients on the buying and selling of jewellery and watches.

John Phillips

John trained at Phillips London as a silver specialist before establishing their wine department. He then worked for many years with Sotheby’s, based in their Toronto, Canada saleroom before returning to Yorkshire. As Morphets wine specialist John can provide valuations for single bottles or wine cellars, advising private and corporate clients on the acquisition and disposal of fine wine, vintage port and whiskies.

Peter Read

Peter Read is our philatelic consultant. He is a member of both The Royal Philatelic Society and The National Philatelic Society. He offers advice, assistance and guidance with regard to the valuing and sale of all types of stamp collections including individual albums. He has a special interest in the global development and history of philately.

Michael Elston

Since graduating from Durham University, Michael has worked for over 15 years in the fine art auction business as a specialist in books, maps and manuscripts. He trained in London and was a head of department for a major international auctioneers before working for several high-profile regional salerooms and latterly becoming a consultant valuer.

His experience ranges from Babylonian cuneiform tablets to modern first editions and everything in between. He is happy to advise on buying, selling and collecting anything from individual items up to whole libraries.

Of course, a successful auction house is more than just about the valuers; it also relies on the hard work and support of the administration, marketing and removals and saleroom teams to make a sale happen.

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