AS USUAL at the March 18-19 sale held by Neales (15% buyer's premium), the spring event was led in price terms by furniture – but in terms of selling rates and the degree of competition in the room, the Nottingham event was more notable for the smalls and collectables.
“There is an indication that the market for smalls from good to indifferent quality is really very buoyant,” said Neales specialist Bruce Fearn.
“We have virtually doubled our turnover in smalls in our weekly Monday sales and prices are often as good as in our fine sales. On Tuesday mornings we have queues of people waiting to have their smalls valued or consigned to our general sales.”
One of the factors which elevated the collectables and ceramics to quarterly-sale status in March was the dispersal of the collections of two deceased enthusiasts, one whose field was caddy spoons, the other’s Rockingham china.
The caddy spoons were the Part II sale of the Leonard Sedgwick collection – a third offering is to come.
There was nothing in the 70 lots to compare with Part I of the John Norrie collection offered by Woolley & Wallis but the Sedgwick spoons were a nice-quality, fresh-to-the-market offering and all but ten got away.
The best single seller was a George III spade spoon with a T-shape handle which went to a collector at £280.
Foremost in the Rockingham dispersal was a hexagonal basket modelled with leaves and naturalistically encrusted coloured flowers. Dated c.1830-40, the 9in (23cm) wide vessel was one of a sought-after series of Rockingham baskets pain-ted with named views.
This one depicted East Lodge, St Leonards, East Sussex and, although (like much of the collection) it had some damage, it still went well above estimate at £1750.
“These Rockingham topographical studies make disproportionately high prices when compared with topographical scenes on porcelain from other factories such as Worcester,” said Mr Fearn.
Notable among the assortment of collectables from a local deceased estate was a silver and enamel rectangular box engraved with a baron’s coronet and enamelled with a Kate Greenaway panel illustrating two children at the seaside.
Dated London, 1882, it left its £120-200 estimate standing, selling at £1100.
A George II shagreen etui, containing nine implements fetched £320; a William IV silver-gilt, engine-turned rectangular vinaigrette by the Birmingham maker Joseph Willmore, 1833, in a red morocco case, brought £340 and a gold Regency fob seal made £600.
Bidding was more selective in general for furniture, with six of the top furniture entries with estimates ranging from £5000-10,000 failing to get away.
However, there were some impressive sellers, including the piece which brought the top price of the sale.
This was a George III mahogany breakfront library bookcase c.1800 which generated private and trade pre-sale interest. Measuring 7ft 3 1/2in x 22in x 8ft 3in (2.22m x 57cm x 2.51m), this imposing entry sold on the telephone at £9000.
Elsewhere, a George II walnut folding card table managed a winning £6400, while a George II mahogany occasional table fet-ched a £4800 trade bid and an encouraging £3300 was tendered for a privately entered burr walnut and amboyna bow end side cabinet dating to c.1860.
However, a more disappointing £4500 was all that was needed to secure a William IV mahogany extending dining table in good condition. Consigned from a solicitor’s office, it carried pre-sale hopes of £5000-10,000.
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