Fittingly for a man whose career started in the 1930s, last week's sale of the Roger Warner collection at Christie's South Kensington was just like old times.
Buyers were responding to a real old-style auction from a
well-regarded old-school Cotswolds dealer who had accumulated a
vast array of different items during the course of his 50 years in
business that was matched in size by his network of acquaintances
amongst dealers, decorators and collectors.
The room was filled to capacity and the queue to register was so
long that the start of the sale had to be delayed.
The result, predictably, was a near sellout. Just 21 of the 640
lots failed to find a buyer and there were sufficient
multi-estimate prices to produce a hammer total that, at £1.62m,
was getting on for twice Christie's pre-sale guide of
The buyers were predominantly British based and, although the
January 20-21 sale was held in a week of deep economic gloom,
Christie's house sale specialist Andrew Waters told ATG: "If the
sale had taken place six months ago we wouldn't have got another
Typical of Roger Warner's wide-ranging tastes and his particular
love of juvenilia was an early dolls' or 'baby' house c.1750. It
became one of a raft of strong performers when it was bought by
Jonathan Coulborn, of 18th century furniture dealers Thomas
Coulborn and Son, for £11,500 (plus 25 per cent premium) on behalf
of Temple Newsam House in Leeds.
Mr Coulborn told ATG that Temple Newsam were keen to secure the
dolls' house as they have records of a similar example being owned
by the Ingram family, who lived in the house for 300 years before
it became a museum in 1922. Roger Warner already has a connection
to this museum - before he died he made a substantial bequest
consisting of rare wallpapers, fabrics, furniture and musical
instruments through his friend, the late Christopher Gilbert.
Mr Coulborn also purchased a George II miniature walnut bureau
for £600 for Temple Newsam, where it will go on public display
inside the dolls' house. But spare a thought for those poor museum
mice, as he also paid a hefty £1700 to secure a brutal George III
ash and elm mousetrap.