Tuesday - 16 September 2014

Take a butcher’s at this…

16 April 2012Written by Roland Arkell

ENTERED for sale by a descendent of the family for whom it was made, this carved wood and painted plaster model of an East End butcher’s shop sold for £22,000 at Woolley & Wallis of Salisbury.

It is believed to be the top price achieved at auction for a Victorian butcher's shop model. 

Used to advertise Fernley Family Butchers of Limehouse, London, the 3ft (91cm) wide model would have been displayed in the shop window once the produce had been put away in cold-storage for the night.

Typically for such models, it depicts a smartly-dressed butcher standing amid his wares, but more unusually, it shows the premises complete with cutting room, where another butcher works in a bloodstained apron.

It was made by the butcher's son, who was the great-great grandfather of the vendor, and was well-known to folk art enthusiasts as the example displayed in the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green for 30 years.

The model's fine detail, from numerous meat cuts and animal carcasses in the shop to the lace curtains hanging in the windows above, had generated great pre-sale interest.

Appearing at the sale on April 3, on the day a battle developed between a phone bidder and a buyer in the room, with the hammer finally coming down in favour of the room bidder at £22,000 (estimate £4000-6000). The purchaser was the ancient London livery company The Worshipful Company of Butchers.

Will Hobbs, furniture and works of art specialist at Woolley & Wallis, told ATG: "We are delighted for the vendor. We knew it was a particularly fine example but we're not aware of this type of model fetching such a price before. We're thrilled that it's going to such a fitting home."

An equally sophisticated example in the Thomas Gray collection sold by Noel Barrett of New Hope, Pennsylvania, in November 2010 brought $29,000 (£19,350). Contained within two Georgian-style buildings, it measured just under 4ft (1.2m) across and included three butchers and nearly 200 cuts of meat and poultry.

The buyer's premium was 22%

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