A strong selection of Tudric (pewter) and Cymric (silver) creations by Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co was the focus of keen bidding at Bonhams’ decorative arts from 1860 sale in New Bond Street.
In a well-timed offering, it coincided with the 150th
anniversary of the Manxman's birth - the focus of several events
this year including a large loan exhibition of 115 pieces on
display at this summer's Olympia International Art and Antiques
Fair in London and the issuing of a set of special
edition stamps by the Isle of Man post office featuring a selection
of his designs.
Such good pre-sale publicity aided by sensibly pitched estimates
saw this ten-lot group of very choice pieces all sell to contribute
just over £100,000 to the sale total.
Although, broadly speaking, Knox prices have continued on a
steady upward trajectory, Bonhams specialist Mark Oliver says the
market has not always been as strong.
While collectors drove prices up in the '90s, most famously
Hollywood actor Brad Pitt among them, some stepped back in the
early part of this century, causing the market to plateau. In the
last few years, however, new enthusiasts have injected fierce
competition back into this market.
At Bonhams, six of the Knox lots had come from a gentleman who
had stored his 1000-strong collection of Liberty ware in a bank
vault for 25 years.
Among this market-fresh group was the section's top performer,
an 8in (19cm) Cymric silver, shagreen and chalcedony tobacco box
and cover marked Birmingham 1901, an example that Mr
Oliver had not come across before. Bids from the room, the phone
and the internet ensured this unusual piece comfortably surpassed
the £10,000-15,000 estimate to eventually sell for £28,000 to the
"I've never known the French to buy a single piece of Knox,"
said Mr Oliver.
Clocks remain one of Knox's most collectable areas, with the
category at Bonhams offering five. The financial highlight here was
an attractive 4in (11cm) high Cymric silver and enamel clock
hallmarked Birmingham 1903. Raised on four bun feet, the
body was inset with turquoise matrix cabochons and the face
enhanced with green enamel. It took £11,000 against a
Outside the single-owner collection was a silver and blister
pearl biscuit box which had been consigned from a source in Canada.
Similar to other wares discovered in the colonies from Britain, it
had probably travelled with a British family to Canada in the last
century or so.
It measured 8in (20cm) high and was marked for Birmingham
1901. There was a small break to the metal with some potential
past repair work which was reflected in the £6000-8000 estimate.
Nevertheless it still got away above expectations to take £10,000,
fittingly from a buyer based on the Isle of Man.
Prices for this form of biscuit box, especially those with
enamel, have commanded even bigger sums; in 2013 Reeman Dansie of
Colchester sold another with blister-pearl and yellow enamel
decoration and marked for Birmingham 1900 for
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