Thursday - 11 February 2016

King of the castle sets record at £8500

04 March 2014Written by Roland Arkell

The commercial fortunes of Victorian silver ‘castle top’ card cases, engraved or embossed with views of British landmarks, depend primarily on the scarcity of the scene depicted.

This example by the celebrated Birmingham box maker Nathaniel Mills, hallmarked for 1852, pictures the Dublin International Industrial Exhibition building of 1853.

The exhibition, which ran from May 12 until October 31, was the most extravagant and expensive public event of 19th century Ireland. It financially ruined William Dargan (Ireland's greatest railway engineer and promoter of the exhibition) but laid the foundation for the National Gallery of Ireland.

The 4in (10cm) case, with a central cartouche engraved Mary, was offered for sale by  Dreweatts as part of their Fine Silver and Objects of Vertu sale at Donnington Priory on February 26. The very crisp decoration suggested it had been kept in its leather case for most of its life.

Estimated at £3000-5000, it sold to a bidder in the room on behalf of a private European collector at £8500.

The price is thought to be an auction record for a castle top card case.

In 2005 Dreweatts sold a case hallmarked for Nathaniel Mills, London 1845, chased with an external view of the Bevis Marks Synagogue, London, for £8000.

The buyer's premium was 24%.

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