1. A 17th century portrait miniature
Furniture and pictures from the collection of career diplomat and crime fiction writer Richard Parsons will be incorporated into Cheffins’ fourth and final Fine Art Sale of the year held on November 28-29 in Cambridge.
Parsons left the Diplomatic Service in 1987 and retired to Whittington, near Kings Lynn, where he focused on his writing and gave talks on his diplomatic adventures at the town’s literary festival.
From the collection is this c.1612 portrait miniature by Isaac Oliver (1565-1617) depicting Parsons’ ancestor, Thomas Fones.
Fones went on to become Mayor of Plymouth in 1619, the year before the Mayflower set sail from the port to the New World. Estimate £3000-5000.
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2. A carved Shakespeare pendant
Calling Shakespeare fans. This Victorian 18ct gold, and believed Mulberry wood, carved pendant, c.1860-70, is estimated at £600-800 at Dee Atkinson Harrison. It is carved with an image of Shakespeare on one side and an acorn and oak leaf wreath to the reverse.
The auction house said the first proper Shakespeare souvenirs were the mulberry wood relics created by Thomas Sharp in the late 1700s from the wood of Shakespeare's mulberry tree. This had been growing in New Place Garden before being unceremoniously cut down by the Rev. Francis Gastrell who was tired of people asking to see it. Instead of burning the wood, he sold it to Sharp, who saw a business opportunity. Other carvers were William Hurdis Harborne, William Hunt, and a ‘Mr Pierce’; the last named was an ivory turner and jeweller.
In 1864, the tercentenary celebrations of Shakespeare’s birth, more were produced, apparently from the original tree. This example will be auctioned in Driffield, East Yorkshire on November 30.
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3. A pair of royal rosewood chairs
This pair of Victorian ivory inlaid and penwork decorated rosewood bedroom chairs by Brew & Co have royal connections. Made in 1886, the 2ft 6in (76cm) high chairs have a handwritten letter on Brew & Co notepaper preserved on a fragment of hessian attached to one of the chairs which reads 23 Novr 1886 The Suite of furniture made of rosewood inlaid with engraved ivory of which this piece forms a part was manufactured by us for the Bedroom and Dressing Rooms of HRH the Princess of Wales in the Colonial and Indian Exhibition South Kensington 1886 [signed] Brew & Coy.
The chairs have been re-upholstered at later date in green damask and one is missing two castors. They will be offered at Mellors & Kirk, November 29 auction with an estimate at £300-500.
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4. A ‘spy’ vest camera
Chiswick will hold its first Photographica sale on November 28 and among the near-200 lots is this concealed vest camera c.1887. This ACP Stirn concealed vest camera model I, serial no: 5975 is estimated at £1000-1200.
Chiswick notes it is “in good original working condition” but missing a strap. The camera was designed to be worn against the chest with the lens poking through a buttonhole and it was a major commercial success at the time.
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5. A rediscovered Anna Alma-Tadema painting
A newly rediscovered painting by Anna Alma-Tadema (1867-1943), which post-dates the most recent of her known works by four years, is to go on sale at Keys in Norfolk on November 29. Baby’s Throne, a 2ft 5in x 20in (73 x 52cm) watercolour, was painted in the spring of 1906, and depicts Louisa Forbes Robertson and her daughter Olivia, wife and second-born child of Sir Norman Forbes Robertson, a leading actor of the late 19th and early 20th century.
It has been in the possession of the family since and is now estimated at £20,000-30,000. Alma-Tadema, the daughter of Dutch artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, is known to have continued to work well into the 20th century, but many of her paintings are unaccounted for. Before this discovery, the most recent of her known works was Girl in a Bonnet with her Head on a Blue Pillow, painted in 1902 and currently on display at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
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