The Benson collection of early spoons was dispersed at Christie’s King Street last week. The highest selling lot was a Henry VI spoon with a Wodewose or wild man finial (one of only four known) which was secured by a UK private buyer on the phone for £70,000.
With the buyer's premium included, the
auctioneers believe this to be the highest price for a single spoon
at auction. It had been estimated at
However, a group of six Edward IV apostle
spoons valued at £150,000-250,000 failed to attract bidding with
just one selling from the group at £13,000.
Overall the 39-lot group offered at the
Christie's auction on June 4, comprising over 40 spoons and one
fork, totalled £655,870.
Assembled over many years by the dealer,
expert and advisor Jane Penrice How (née Benson), the collection of
silver spoons which ranged from the Roman period to the 17th
century had been on loan to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford
Jane Penrice How (1915-2004), known as "Ben"
to her friends, and simply as 'Mrs How' to acquaintances, was a
character that none who knew her will forget. A long-standing
member of the Antique Plate Committee at Goldsmiths Hall, where her
forthright opinions were aired with some regularity, she met her
husband, Commander George Evelyn Paget How, when cataloguing the
Ellis spoon collection for Sotheby's in 1935.
Together, they built up a formidable
dealership, How of Edinburgh (which had moved to the heart of the
West End before the War) that was the training ground for a whole
generation of silver dealers. Tom Lumley, Hugh Jessop, John
Bourdon-Smith and Brand Inglis all worked for How at some time in
Mrs How's lengthy obituary in The
Times also remembered her wide-ranging enthusiasms: wine,
opera, fishing, shooting, edged weapons, beekeeping, dogs, cricket
Woolley & Wallis of Salisbury conducted the How of Edinburgh
stock sale in October 2007 -
a single-owner catalogue totalling £550,000.