The 18in (46cm) jug was part of the selection of books, paintings, prints, ceramics and works of art from The Royal Agricultural Society of England which was offered at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions on July 11 in Maddox Street, London. Prior to the 'live' sale, the lots could be viewed, and bid for, online at The Auction Room.
Estimated at £1500-2500, the jug overcame extensive damage (several stapled cracks and the handle reglued) to sell for £5500.
Inscribed in gilt Earl Spencer's Prize Durham Ox exhibited at the Smithfield Club Show Xmas 1843, it may well have been commissioned for the Royal Smithfield Club. To the verso is a study of three large lambs in a rural landscape, titled Three Prize Wethers Bred & Fed by Mr Richd. Hickson of Hougham near Grantham which obtained 4 first Prizes in 1837.
The Fitzwilliam Museum, who are looking to expand their collection of 19th century ceramics, are only aware of one smaller similar jug in the Coalport China Museum. It was bought with help from the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum.
Also combining decorative appeal with historical significance was a cased 11in (27cm) plaster model of an imported Southdown ewe c.1854. According to the inscription and an accompanying manuscript note, this cast was presented by Jonas Webb (1796-1862) to Jonathan Thorne as a perfect specimen of the breed.
Webb, the leading breeder of Southdowns in the 1840s and 1850s, won prizes at virtually every annual Royal Agricultural Society exhibition and a gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1855. He was commemorated with a statue once at the Cambridge Corn Exchange and now located in his home village of Babraham in Cambridgeshire. Despite a crack across the base, this model provided something of a surprise when it sold at £1400.
As reported in last week's ATG, the sale of the 'family silver' was being held by the Stoneleigh Park institution to clear a pension deficit and raise funds for an Innovation in Agriculture scheme. While items such as the Robert Bakewell chair drew good competition and sold at £9000 and the Society's portrait of HRH Princess Elizabeth painted in 1950 by Sir Oswald Birley sold for £40,000, more than 40 trophies were withdrawn prior to sale.
Printed highlights from the sale appear in the Antiquarian Books section of next week's ATG printed newspaper.
The buyer's premium was 24%.