1. Stamp design archive
Pictured here is one of a dozen progressive and finished designs for Maltese stamps created in 1926 by Leonard Douglas Fryer (1891-1965). They sold to an online bidder for £21,100 (estimate £4000-4500) when Hansons conducted the sale of the Fryer archive of stamp designs in Staffordshire on May 9.
Working from the 1920s to the 1950s, Fryer was a stamp designer employed by Waterlow and Sons, engravers of currency, postage stamps, stocks and bond certificates.
His stamp-size watercolour designs – achieved by working with a magnifying glass in one hand and his paintbrush in the other – were submitted to postal administrations in a wide variety of countries from Peru and Brazil to Antigua and St Lucia. Some were chosen for use, others were rejected.
In the case of these designs for Maltese stamps, the finished ‘essays’ for the 1s, 1s 6d, 2s, 2s 6d and 5s stamps were all adopted.
2. Gold paper fan
This ink on gold paper fan with ivory and tortoiseshell mounts is signed for the Ming dynasty calligrapher Wen Zhengming (1470-1559). It copies a work by the Song dynasty scholar Wu Zhen (1280-1354). One of the Four Masters of Ming painting, Wen Zhengming’s paintings were highly sought after by wealthy collectors throughout the 16th century, and counterfeits of his works were common even during the late Ming. This fan, acquired at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2015 for HK192,000 (around £19,000), reappeared for sale as part of an Austrian private collection sold by Galerie Zacke in Vienna on May 11. Estimated at €3000, it took €28,000.
3. A rare Beswick model
The Rearing Welsh Cob (model 1014) was one of Arthur Gredington’s most popular Beswick models, produced in two different models from c.1943. Those in typical black, bay or palomino colourways are relatively common and bring two-figure sums, However, a handful of other coat colours – white, grey and piebald - are much harder to find, particularly those made after 1967 when the figure was redesigned with a loose hanging tail. Some of these were quickly discontinued. This example in rare white decoration sold to an online bidder for £1300 (estimate £20-30) at Mellors & Kirk in Nottingham on May 15.
4. A full set of playing cards
For centuries, the production of playing cards was carefully controlled by the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards. The Crown received the benefit of the duties levied by the Company on all packs with the ace of spades typically chosen as the card to mention the maker and the tax paid. This tax on playing cards was not abolished until 1960.
William Wheeler was one of the smaller makers. He received his ‘garter in 1821 and is listed in directories at 11 King Street, Snow Hill from 1822-28. This full set of ‘plain back’ cards appeared at Stroud Auctions on May 8 where it sold to an online bidder at £1200 (estimate £30-50).
5. A Kangxi period libation cup
Libation cups were made to a relatively standard form in a number of different media during the Ming and the Qing periods. Rhinocerous horn, with its supposed magical properties, was the material of choice for these scholar’s objects but others were made in hardwood, dehua porcelain and, in the case of this rare 17th century Kangxi period example offered by Stride & Son of Chichester on May 15, amber. Measuring 4in (10cm) across it is carved in high relief with dragons and stylized clouds. With a provenance to the estate of Bronwen Viscountess Astor (1930-2017), and estimated at £4000-6000, it sold at £17,000 to an online bidder.