FOUR centuries of social, commercial and military history dictate that South Africa is just occasionally the source of rare European antiques and works of art.
These two well-preserved English sealed wine bottles, both from Devon - one for John White of Wrangaton, near Dartmoor dated 1785, the other for G.C. Skinner of Tavistock dated 1780 - emerged for sale at Rudd's in Cape Town on February 28 estimated at a lowly R2000-3000 (around £200).
Bidding opened at R45,000 before six UK telephone bidders chased them to R110,000 (£9650) plus 15% buyer's premium.
Although prices of this magnitude are traditionally reserved for bottles of half a century earlier or more, both vessels bore seals with name, date and location of their original owner (key for the genealogical research that interests today's collector) while the octagonal form of one is particularly rare for this late 18th century date.
Both bottles formed part of the collection of P.D.G. Pugh, author of Staffordshire Portrait Figures of the Victorian Era,who retired to the Cape in 1980.
The buyer, from Kent, is currently researching over 5000 British bottles for a book titled Antique Sealed Bottles 1640-1900 and the Families that Owned Them.