“It is hard to source good quality fresh to market goods these days,” said auctioneer Guy Schwinge after a monthly sale in Dorset, echoing the hardships faced by many other auctioneers around the country.
The handful of items that were fine quality had been marked up quite steeply and in the current climate dealers are not willing, or even able, to pay as much money for items which might have sold at those levels last year.
This reluctance was evident at H.Y.Duke and Sons in Dorchester on June 28 where a William IV burr yew and marquetry centre table which had been ‘seen’ by the trade, was bought in against hopes of £20,000-30,000, and a Regency rosewood centre table and writing table of Gillows quality (estimates unspecified) failed to sell.
An absence of private buyers willing to rush in where dealers fear to tread does not make for good sales, especially where vendor expectations run high, but the auctioneers had a more successful dispersal of paintings including an equestrian portrait by Herring Senior of 1923 Derby winner Emilius which took £17,500 .
Despite the failure of the heavyweight, room-centre Regency rosewood furniture, two smaller Regency pieces in the same vein offered some compensation. A rosewood breakfront chiffonier with gilt metal gallery back and grills to the green silk lined doors, 5ft 4in (1.62m) wide, made £5200, and a rosewood and brass inlaid library table on twin baluster supports and scrolled feet, 4ft 7in (1.39m), also went within estimate at £6200.
A Regency mahogany patent campaign table with a brass plaque for Stewart of Charing Cross was expected to do well, not least because of the popularity of campaign furniture.
But dining tables are dined at first and campaigned from later, and this example was limited by having only one leaf. Measuring 4ft (1.22m) wide on four fluted legs, it sold below estimate at £2700.
Attracting great interest was an 18th century pine chest on stand naively painted with tulips in a scroll border. Its unusual form indicated a Channel Islands origin, although some dealers said West Country. The Weymouth vendors certainly had no connection to the islands.
On sale day there was interest from dealers on Guernsey and Jersey in the 3ft 6in (1.06m) chest but it eventually fell to an English dealer at £4800.
Top price of the day came for a William IV stained glass and gilt metal hall lantern of hexagonal form with an ultra-ornate anthemion and floral border surmounted by a double scroll ‘coronet’. The ideal addendum to any large Victorian house, hall lanterns are rather like cast iron fireplaces – they cost nothing to dismantle in the past, when modernism was all the rage, but a fortune to replace now that original features are desirable.
This 2ft 101/2in (88cm) high example, pictured, which was gathering dust in an attic of a house recently bought by the vendor, attracted a double-estimate £8500 although one pane had been smashed and the frame had been regilded.
Hy.Duke and Sons, Dorchester, June 28
Number of lots offered: 772
Number of lots sold: n/a
Sale total: n/a
Buyer’s premium: 15 per cent
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