Duke’s, Dorchester, January 27Buyer’s premium: 15 per centOAK furniture’s rustic aesthetic and its ability to complement modern interiors, has kept it in demand by private buyers and decorators as well as oak dealers, and prices have tended to hold up during the furniture doldrums.
By comparison, decent Victorian and Georgian mahogany
furniture struggles to sell well if at all.
Highlighting the current contrast in the health of these two
markets was the punchy price realised for the top lot at Dorchester
back in late January - a straightforward George III oak and elm
The 6ft 4in (1.93m) wide dresser with its raised back and standard
base was unexceptional in form, but it was a good example of its
kind with a wonderful colour, superb surface and original handles.
It was also a perfect fit for the homes of two tenacious private
buyers who contested it way past its £1500-3000 guideline. It
finally sold at £10,000.
If this price reflected the lengths to which determined private
buyers will go to secure the right piece, the multiple-estimate bid
needed to secure an Art Nouveau wardrobe attributed to Shapland and
Petter reflected the evolving market for decorative
"It was just the sort of thing that would have been included in
one of our Sunday sales not so long ago," said auctioneer Guy
Consigned to this fine sale at £300-500, the slender 3ft 7in
(1.09m) wide wardrobe, with its marquetry panelled doors decorated
with stylised peacocks and foliage, attracted the attention of
several interested parties who contested it to £2500.
Elsewhere, buyers overlooked condition for the decorative appeal
of a pair of late George III blue-painted and parcel gilt console
tables with inset white marble tops.
Although the white-painted, classically robed female figure
supports would originally have been bronzed, the tables benefited
from a solid provenance.
Inherited by the private vendor's grandmother, Mrs V Campbell,
they originally graced the Campbells' Kent country seat, Coombank
in Sevenoaks designed by Robert Adam. One of the tables at
Dorchester bore a Coombank label.
Measuring 21 x 2ft 8in (53cm x 81cm), the console tables were
comparatively small, but proved a big enough attraction for a
commission bidder from South-East England to secure them at
Outside the furniture, the most coveted entry was an exquisitely
worked Japanese okimono in excellent condition, signed by one of
the Tokyo School's masters Seizan.
Not only did this school produce many of the Meiji period's finest
quality okimonos, it also produced some of the largest examples and
this one was 16 1/2in (42cm) wide.
It depicted an elderly couple seated on a fringed mat and enjoying
There was no shortage of buyers with specialist interest in the
piece which was consigned from the Dorset village of Corfe Castle.
Bids came from the Far East, America and London before the okimono
went to a UK buyer at £7500.
Other high flyers at the sale included an eye-catching set of four
2ft 6in (76cm) tall wall lights in the form of cast bronze
Topped with crown light fittings and dating to c.1900, the owls
stood on Regency-style carved giltwood wall brackets. Mr Schwinge
reckoned the lamps, consigned from a country house cellar, were
just the type of smart, commercial entry to "end up in the hallway
of a Fifth Avenue apartment".
In the event, they fetched £6200 (estimate £800-1200).
Consigned from a deceased estate was another highly decorative
piece - a 2ft 3in (69cm) high pair of 19th century Louis XIV-style
bronze and ormolu table candelabra with cherub satyr figures. These
went to a leading international dealer at £3000.
Elsewhere, while some felt the proportions of a George II walnut
longcase clock, missing the lower part of its plinth base, were
bordering on provincial, at least eight telephone bidders thought
Made by Jasper Taylor of Holborn, its warm honey colour proved an
irresistible draw, helping it to double expectations at
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