There were no massed ranks of Prussian royal silver on offer at Sotheby’s Olympia (17.5/10% per cent buyer’s premium) on October 24. On offer here was a good 350-lot commercial mix of English and Continental fare from a variety of sources which netted £310,000.
Just over 250 of the 375 lots were silverwares, the remainder objects of vertu and portrait miniatures. They saw a take-up of 75 per cent by lot, 86 per cent by value, slightly higher rates than for the sale overall.
Sotheby’s specialist Matthew Stuart-Lyon felt the content helped, a mix of the functional and decorative, plenty from fresh sources, with not too much in the way of standard candlesticks and teasets which can be so difficult to shift these days, Primarily though, he put the strong take-up down to the keenly pitched estimates. “We have adjusted to the market’s conservatism,” he said.
Perhaps the prime example of this was the American silver epergne pictured here. A fresh-to-the-market piece from a Continental source, this had arrived in need of a good clean and assembling and had been given a very conservative £1000-1500 estimate. Made by the New York firm Ball, Tomkins and Black, and weighing in at 96oz, it dated from c.1850 which, while not amongst the earliest pieces of silver from across the Atlantic, still counts as scarcer than a comparable piece from England. The piece attracted considerable American interest from both trade and private buyers alike and ended up making £9500 to a US private collector.
The top lot of the sale was an Elkingtons silver table garniture, which was marked for Birmingham 1874/5. Of Egyptianesque inspiration, this comprised one large and two smaller centrepieces, each with trefoil-shaped bases and paw-footed sphinxes supporting frosted glass dishes. Set on conforming shaped mirror bases, it sold just under the lower end of its £12,000-18,000 estimate at £11,000 to a European dealer.