AMONG the London salerooms offering a good selection of antique glasswares in the last fortnight, Christie’s South Kensington had a mixed-owner 280-lot selection of British and Continental glass to offer as part of their monthly ‘At Home’ series.
Offered on October 9, just a week after the Harvey's dispersal at Bonhams, this was a well-balanced sale which had plenty of 18th century English drinking glasses; a particularly attractive selection of cut glass and, unusually for a London sale, a large selection of early wine bottles. (Harvey's sale excepted, glass sales in the capital more usually feature only one or two bottles. Here there were no fewer than 31 divided between 19 lots).
The high point of this auction, however, was not produced by any of these areas but by two pieces of Victorian cameo glass of c.1885. This is a sector of the market that has been on the up recently, with demand fuelled by strong collecting from the US and Europe.
Witness the very fierce competition seen at Sotheby's in London last December for the pieces from the Hida Takayama Museum to cite just one illustration.
Christie's two pieces were by Thomas Webb, the best-known British manufacturer, although the workmanship could not be ascribed to their most sought-after cameo artist, George Woodall.
The 12.75in (31cm) high vases, which were of an unusual smoky amber tint, both came from the same source and had probably been intended to be displayed together, for they had complementary decoration of horsedrawn classical chariots, rising above the clouds. One, however, was driven by a helmeted god, the other a classically-draped goddess and there were differences to the formal bands of decoration to the necks and bases.
Christie's hadn't pitched the estimates as high as the best Takayama Museum examples. They guided the goddess-powered vase,at £8000-12,000 and the male charioteer vessel, right, which had a bruise to the rim, at £5000-8000. In the event both these margins were left behind as the same buyer fought off American trade competition on the phone to secure them both paying £24,000 and £17,000 respectively.
Overall the sale saw a good competitive turnout of trade and private purchasers and generated £164,460, with selling rates of 76 per cent by lot and, boosted by the cameo results, 90 per cent by value.
The buyer's premium was 17.5/10% per cent