There was also the usual handful of items singled out for some furious bidding battles that sent them to levels that were way past predictions. They included a 13th century gold- and silver-inlaid brass pencase from Western Persia that sold for £1m at Sotheby’s on April 30; a 13th century Anatolian carved wooden double door pursued to £680,000 at Christie’s on April 29 and this 17th century Indian sardonyx portrait cameo of Shah Jahan, right, which was the star of Bonhams’ sale on May 1 when three telephones contested it way past its £40,000-60,000 estimate to £520,000. Consigned to Bonhams by a private collector, the little hardstone carving, which measures just 1 1/2 x 1 1/4in (4 x 6cm), had featured in a house sale held last year where it proved to be an auction sleeper. It was part of the contents of Fulbeck Hall, Lincolnshire, home of the Fane family for nearly 400 years, that were sold by Sotheby’s Olympia rooms in October 2002 and was included amongst 19 items described as a group of objects of vertu that sold for just £750. The newly discovered piece is a major addition to a rare group of four Mughal cameos of Shah Jahan, the others being in the Victoria and Albert Museum; the Bibliothèque Nationale and the al-Sabah Collection in Kuwait.
Islamic sales remain steady in wake of war
THE war in Iraq does not appear to have had any obvious effect on the latest series of lslamic sales, held in London last week. There was still an international turnout for the three main auctions of Islamic works of art and, in a field usually characterised by selective buying, the selling rates were not especially different, with a take-up in lot terms ranging from just over half the content at Bonhams and Christie’s King Street to just over two thirds at Sotheby’s.