This carving of a poacher signed by Johann Huggler (1834-1912) of Brienz, Switzerland was the highlight of a collection of 28 ‘Black Forest’ type carvings sold at the latest sale held by Sworders.
Measuring 3ft 2in (95cm) high, it was offered in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex on October 23. The vendor, from Woodbridge in Suffolk, had been collecting for many years.
"I was amazed at what was in the back of the van. It just went on and on," said director Guy Schooling. "The story is that this figure is a self-portrait by Huggler. He was a well-known poacher and this is him having a laugh at the local gamekeepers and landowners. It is beautifully carved and there can't be many that he signed."
Huggler was ranked the 'King of Carvers' among the estimated 1300 artisans who plied their trade in Brienz at the turn of the 20th century. At the time most wares were sold for export (largely to Northern European and American tourists) and the buying audience for 'Black Forest' carvings remains much the same.
The poacher produced a battle between seven phone lines, two people in the room, absentee bids and online, with bidders from the US, Northern Europe and UK.
At £14,500, it sold to a trade buyer from Florida on the phone well above the estimate of £1500-2500.
The buyer's premium was 20%.