SILVER: Good commercially appealing entries were what was finding favour with both trade and private buyers at Christie’s South Kensington’s second silver sale of the year, the 158-lot £136,123 gathering held on February 19.
A case in point was the cased set of caddies and sugar bowl pictured here. Fresh to the market, made by John Houle, 1811, with two King’s pattern caddy spoons made by Eley and Fearn (total weight 57oz) the silverwares were in good condition, said CSK’s specialist Jeffrey Lassaline, although their mahogany case had some missing elements to the moulding.
Trade interest was trumped by a private buyer bidding on the phone, who finally secured this at £8500 – double the estimate.
Another good commercial piece was a pierced oval basket on stand with ram’s mask handles, marked for William Frisbee, 1800. This was a substantial piece at 151/2in (39cm) and 78oz. Christie’s last sold it back in 1973 and it was subsequently acquired by Spink, from whom it was purchased in 1981 by a relative of the consignor. It had also been published in Christie’s Pictorial History of English and American Silver – additional exposure that did its cause no harm. It ended up making £7500 against an estimate of £3000-5000.
Other top-priced entries included an extensive 220-piece canteen of French flatware amounting to 350oz of weighable silver, which sold for £5000, and another piece of imposing size, a 22in (56cm) high, 97oz Victorian ewer, James Garrard, 1886, decorated in Renaissance revival style with masks, shells, flowers and scrolls, which fetched £5500.
In all, just over two thirds of the lots found buyers, foreign and 20th century silverwares being the most difficult areas, although one modern exception was a 44oz parcel-gilt silver and enamel presentation ornament to Lord Astor of Hever, in the form of a globe decorated with Commonwealth countries. Offered by the executors of Irene Lady Astor, this was made in 1982 by Christopher Lawrence, a goldsmith who has won numerous prizes for his work, and it sold for £1900 against a £500-700 estimate.
Five days earlier, a 478-lot sale of silver and vertu went under the hammer at Bonhams’ (15/10% buyer premium) Knightsbridge rooms. With fewer prices in the four-figure league here, this larger event chalked up a lower total at £123,695, but the overall take-up was significantly higher with 84 per cent sold by lot, 86 by value.
Top price here was the catalogue cover lot, a William IV silver centrepiece by Edward and William Barnard. Fashioned as the Three Graces encircling a central trumpet-shaped vase measuring 191/4in (49cm) high and weighing in at 167oz, this realised a mid-estimate £5800. A notable result from lower down the scale was the £1000 paid for an early collector’s spoon, a Commonwealth period West Country apostle specimen with St Philip terminal made by Thomas Baxter of Exeter around 1650 and prick dotted GH.IW and 1658 to the bowl back. Another strong result was the £1100 paid for the 42oz George IV part fluted coffee biggin and stand of 1821 pictured here. Weighing 42oz, with acanthus spout and thumbpiece, this bore the maker’s mark of John Houle, the same goldsmith who made the boxed caddies sold in the CSK auction.