Saturday - 22 November 2014

Internet bidding moves into the big league

16 July 2007Written by ATG Reporter

Thought that internet bidding was for low value items only? The five-figure sums tendered online at two country sales last week suggest the received wisdom may need a rethink.

The remarkably realistic lizard or salamander magnum weights are among the most coveted of all lampwork paperweights. There are perhaps two dozen known and, although a great deal of mystery remains regarding their production, most are thought to have been made by the Cristallerie de Pantin, near Paris in the second half of the 19th century.

None of the weights produced by Pantin (often referred to as The Fourth Factory after Baccarat, Clichy, and Saint Louis) are signed or dated. This 4in (10cm) example, decorated with a lizard among aconites appeared for sale at the Market Harborough auctioneers Gildings on July 10.

It had been consigned by a couple who had bought it within the last six months at a boot fair in Northamptonshire. Missed at the cataloguing stage (it was given a cursory description and a £100-150 estimate), it had been picked up on the internet long before viewing and condition reports mentioning a chip and some scratches had been issued to a number of potential buyers, including an American who chose to bid on the telephone and two strong bidders in the room.

However, the successful US buyer chose to bid live on the internet via www.the-saleroom.com.

Entering the fray at the last moment, the East Coast collector bid £22,000 - a hammer price that was subject to a 12.5 per cent buyer's premium plus a three per cent online bidding charge.

The very best Pantin salamander weights have generated six figure sums in America where they are most avidly collected.

Meanwhile, the ebonised mahogany and brass mounted Aesthetic Movement side table, proved the unexpected highlight of the sale conducted by Dickins of Middle Claydon, Buckinghamshire on July 6.

Bought for a song at the Shepton Mallett Antiques and Collectors' Fair and taken to auctioneer John Dickins, who has sold two Voysey clocks in recent years, it was entered for sale with an estimate of £800-1200 and a tentative attribution to Christopher Dresser.

In fact a drawing for a similar table (but with a circular top and longer legs) is pictured in The Secular Furniture of EW Godwin by Susan Weber Soros, together with mention of a table of a modified design - "whereabouts unknown"- pictured in a photograph taken at Tyntesfield, the North Somerset country house, in 1873.

Before the sale there was speculation that this could be that table and indeed, on the day, lot 222 was brought before the audience as "a long lost Godwin table".

Admired for its excellent condition, fine quality (it was probably made by Collinson & Locke) and its strong echoes of Eastern design, it was competed by all of the major decorative arts dealers over ten telephone lines, but competition also came from a bidder from France also using www.the-saleroom.com.

In the running from about £6000, the internet bidder only lost out to a dealer from the Midlands at £34,000 (plus 15 per cent buyer's premium).

Another Godwin table was sighted in Salisbury the previous month. A report on that Woolley & Wallis sale appears in this week's ATG printed newspaper.

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