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The relevance of all these events is open to question now that the English aristocracy have largely left the grouse moor and the English trade the hotel saleroom, open to wealthy Americans and Continental Europeans.

These days, the trade are often more interested in selling than buying at Gleneagles, given the continued ability of this venue to attract wealthy international clientele.

The Sotheby’s executive in charge of the sale on 4 September, Grant Ford, said that about 70 per cent of the goods were privately consigned and 65 per cent were privately sold. But the auctioneers still need trade buyers – this was proven by a disastrous silver section where over half the lots failed to sell – and for the sale of silver, jewellery and Wemyss discussed here, the auctioneers posted their lowest total from the highest number of lots for the past three years.

The only exclusively Scottish part of the sale was characterised by the country’s most famous ceramic export – Wemyss pottery – and the cosmopolitan appeal of the brightly painted pigs and plates ensured that this section was the most successful.

The auctioneers have a track-record of establishing new highs for the pottery at Gleneagles, with £11,000 bid on three separate occasions, for a garden seat in 1994, a blue eyed cat in 96 and a pair of presidential pigs in 1997.

Breaking this series of tied results at Sotheby’s was a large Wemyss pig with a restored tail, 18in (46cm) long, sponged in black on a pink and white ground. The colour combination on this pig appeared to have been unrecorded and this was the primary reason why it soared to £14,000, bid by a private American collector.

Not far behind was a sleeping piglet painted with thistles, measuring 61/2in (17cm) long and estimated at £3000-4000. The auctioneers had raised £9600 for a rose painted sleeping piglet at last year’s sale, but thistles are more desirable decoration.

This example would have brought a couple of thousand pounds more than the hammer price of £10,500 had it not been restored.

Colour was also the fundamental reason why a blue glazed pig, 61/2in (17cm) long, attracted £8000 from an overseas collector against expectations of £800-1200. It was one of only three blue glazed pigs known to exist. Obviously to be colour blind is to be at a disadvantage in the world of Wemyss dealer, for prices vary greatly according to rarity of palette; a green glazed pig of exactly the same size and, dare one say it, quality as the blue glazed example, sold at £450 while a yellow glazed pig with restoration, 61/2in (17cm) long, fetched £650. A rather more rare lilac-glazed pig made £1800.

The other animal breed most closely associated with Wemyss is the cat, more particularly the Gallé breed.
Here there was a pair of Wemyss style Gallé cats with blue hearts on a yellow ground, each 13in (33cm) high, which took £10,500 from a private collector, and a Galle-style Wemyss tabby cat whose replaced eyes prevented the tendering of any bid higher than £9500.

Unusual Wemyss at a lower level included a fluted basket painted with daisies on an ochre ground with green line borders, 113/4in (30cm) wide, which made £500 and a 1930s powder box and cover painted by Carl Nekola (son of Karel) with a parrot on a branch of blossom, 23/4in (7cm) high, which sold at £220.

Pick of the silver was a set of four Hunt and Roskell candlesticks, London 1882, modelled by Lambeth School sculptor G.A.Carter to represent Night, Dawn, Knowledge and Genius.

These cherub and orb-mounted candlesticks each measured 111/2in (29cm) high, weighed 99oz and were unusually decorative.They were also privately entered but the trade were put off by the rather dubious nature of their sconces, and the sticks found a Continental buyer at a lower estimate £12,000.

Elsewhere on a day when the trade were described as “quiet”, by specialist Daniel Packer, a c.1900 Shanghai silver bowl on stand measuring 121/2in diameter and weighing 100oz attracted £6500 from a private buyer.

A Victorian bone fisherman’s priest with mounts by Wright and Davies, London 1884 and a coronet and initial H for the Duke of Hamilton, proved to be an astute consignment, as it attracted a double-estimate £4200 from a Continental private buyer.

Apart from this entry, there was little else in the silver that was of a Scottish nature and could not have been sold at least as well in London.
The same could be said for the jewellery, where the trade take-up was better, but the top lot sold privately.

This necklace of 31 cultured pearls and a barrel shaped clasp of brilliant diamonds attracted a top-estimate £18,000 to lead the sale overall.

Sotheby’s, Gleneagles, September 4
Number of lots offered: 504
Number of lots sold: 334
Sale total: £697,312 (inc premium)
Buyer’s premium: 20/15/10 per cent