Beyond Burlington Gardens going north, a bottle neck, the pavements so medievally narrow that two can barely walk abreast, past tics, shirts, past the broad windows of Asprey’s holding their display as if in aspic; past Grafton Street and Clifford Street (some good old houses, and a shop for kilts); Churchill’s the nightclub, and so down to the Time/Life building on the comer of Bruton Street gazing grimly across at the twin grim Westbury Hotel on the comcr of Conduit Street. High on Time/Life is the well known Henry Moore frieze, difficult to sec and lost as sited, but the interior of the building is well worth a look, already almost a period piece of (1952 3) Royal College of Art taste cxcited by a sudden affluence of American money in the midst of post war austerity a big Ben Nicholson painting, a fine Henry Moore reclining figure on the terrace, creating its own characteristic and massive solitude here as the frieze cannot. And so Bond Street continues up to the bleak bright contemporary facade that closes its vista the other side of Oxford Street. On the left, Wildenstcin’s, Partridges, and a deliciously slender stemmed shop window salvaged from an old chemist’s shop and inserted into the new (No. 13); Hill’s for violins (a Strad, probably, if you are in need of one); Wallace Heaton for cameras; and so on. On the right, hiding its ten million pound annual turn over behind quaint, antiquated round arches, the auction rooms of Sotheby’s. Sotheby’s were originally specialists in rare book auction sales, but particularly since the war they have become the leading art auctioneers in the world. In the reception office downstairs, at the long counter under the big, green shrouded lights, a constant flow of hopeful owners bring, wrapped in brown paper, old blankets, shopping baskets, what they trust may prove to be the long missing Rembrandt or a unique piece of Chelsea porcelain, equalling x thousand pounds. Upstairs, in the suite of top lit galleries, throughout the year except August and September, you can see the next sales exposed for viewing and what is equally fascinating (as Rowlandson and Daumier long ago sharply observed), you can see the viewers viewing, the dealers and the connoisseurs in action; stooping, craning, investigating with the aid of a little spit an alleged signature or working at two inches’ range though a lens. IT you are buying at Sotheby’s or in any London auction room, some knowledge is indeed advisable, if only of the accepted short hand for description. It is not always realised, for example, that in picture sales a painting listed as Reynolds will be what the auctioneers believe to be a genuine picture of Reynolds’s period and influenced by his style, but certainly not by him. If it is listed as by Sir J. Reynolds,” it may be as much as a studio piece, but if it is allowed the full sonority of Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.a.A., then you may, you mty, be in the presence of paint distributed by the hand of the master himself It is worth looking in at a sale, but do not get carried away or mesmerised; the speed with which money is bid can be breath taking, and you can, if you have it, dispose of up to a couple of hundred thousand on one object inside a minute and a half (average speed of a sale is about two lots a minute).