Thursday - 31 July 2014

Lacquer cabinet at £120,000 in Shrewsbury

16 May 2011Written by ATG Reporter

"The best piece of furniture sold in Shropshire in a decade," enthused Shrewsbury auctioneer Jeremy Lamond of Halls.

A look at the £120,000 George I red and gilt japanned bureau cabinet illustrated here, and one may think Mr Lamond was being unduly modest in limiting his claim to just his own county and a single decade.

On the other hand, it did allow him to mention that the ranking piece of furniture, a Pugin table which made £180,000 in 1997, was also sold in these Welshpool rooms.

Like the Pugin table (made for Leighton Hall, about eight miles away), the bureau cabinet was a locally consigned piece, from just across the border in Powys. The vendor's grandfather had bought it from a Bruton Street, Mayfair, dealer in 1930 for £50. A fair sum then, of course - say £3000 in today's money.

Nobody, however, expected it to go at that kind of price. The catalogue had a 'refer to department' estimate, but Mr Lamond said that the £120,000 bid (£141,000 with premium) was "around what I'd been hoping for".

He pointed out: "There's a similar piece attributed to John Belchier in the state bedroom at Erddig Hall, [the National Trust property near Wrexham] but very few red lacquered pieces from around 1720 come up at auction."

Standing 7ft 1in high by 3ft 3in wide (2.16m x 98cm) the double-domed bureau cabinet with arched mirrored drawers above the fitted fall, had all the trimmings, including secret drawers, one would expect in a piece designed to make a spectacular statement. When the doors and fall were opened, the chinoiserie-themed gilt inlay was revealed as being as lavish and imposing to the interior as to the exterior.

"There had been some restoration over the centuries as one would expect from a 300-year-old piece of furniture, but that was all," said Mr Lamond. "The handles had been replaced, again as you'd expect, but everything else was original including, we believe, the glass."

The buyer of the region's finest piece of English furniture for some time was a London furniture dealer.

Nowadays, it's a rare sale in which English furniture steals the headlines when up against Chinese offerings - particularly when they include 40 lots of jade and ceramics from the renowned Brodie Lodge Collection built up at Flore House, Northamptonshire in the late 1940s and '50s.

These pieces added £174,000 to the day's total leading Mr Lamond to say: "It shows that quality pieces can sell just as well in Shropshire as they can in London.

"We had 115 people registered to bid live on the internet and half of those were from China," said Mr Lamond. Bidding was through the-saleroom.com.

As so often among Chinese lots, the majority of the pieces went at around estimate, often three-figure sums, interspersed with much higher bids with, as Mr Lamond said, "wealthy collectors wanting to take antiques back to China".

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Written by

ATG Reporter

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