1. Novelty smoking set – £1200
The main draw to this two-piece lot sold by Arthur Johnson in Nottingham on August 31 was a very rare novelty electroplated smoking set in the form of an aeroplane. The detachable wings provide two cigarette cases, the fuselage an ashtray and match striker, the cockpit a petrol lighter and the propeller a cigar cutter.
Similar models were made c.1925-30 by the German firm JA Henkels of Solingen that also produced a cocktail shaker based on the same theme.
Although the plate was in tired condition it appeared to be complete. It sold together with a Fortnum & Mason chrome-plated clock/cigarette lighter for £1200, many times the estimate of £20-30.
2. Punch cartoon – £1000
This ink cartoon made for Punch magazine by George du Maurier (1834-96) in 1880 sold for £1000 (estimate £30-50) at Wallis & Wallis in Lewes on September 2.
The cartoonist and writer (grandfather of writers Angela and Daphne du Maurier) joined the staff at Punch in 1865, drawing two ink cartoons a week until his eyesight deteriorated in 1891. His most common targets were the affected manners of Victorian society and members of Britain's growing middle class in particular.
This particular cartoon of a couple inspecting a Chinese teapot titled 'The Six-Mark Tea-pot’ lampoons the china collecting craze of the Aesthetic movement. The artist has the Aesthetic Bridegroom saying: ‘It is quite consummate is it not!’. His Intense Bride Replies: ‘It is indeed Algernon. Let us live up to it!’
3. Staffordshire transfer printed meat dish– £1800
To many US collectors the term ‘Historical Staffordshire’ refers to the transfer printed wares that were produced in England for the North American export market from 1800-30. Typically, they carry topographical views, well-known landmarks or emotive patriotic scenes executed in a dark inky blue transfer.
These American views, made by a wide range of British factories, command a significant premium above more typical transfer printed views of the period. They are surprisingly scarce in the UK but one appeared for sale as part of a mixed lot at Franklin Browns of Edinburgh on August 31.
The print to this 18in (49cm) meat dish titled New Jersey is part of a series allegorical of the states of the union made by Stoke-on-Trent potter Thomas Mayer c.1825.
Offered together with a Victorian ‘Pure Butter’ shop display platter (worth on its own the £40-60 estimate) it took £1800 from a bidder using thesaleroom.com.
4. Leather jewellery case – £1300
The sale at Gildings in Market Harborough on September 3 included items from the McGill family – industrialists who played a key role in the founding of Russia's cotton mill industry in the mid-19th century.
As a prominent British family living in 19th century Moscow, they formed close family ties with other British families based in the city as well as the Russian aristocracy. Emma McGill married Henry ‘Allan’ Talbot Bowe who had close ties with the Fabergé lineage, and became their retail representative in London in the early 20th century.
This history does much to explain the competition for this unusual 6in (15cm) tan leather jewellery case with lift out tray c.1900 that, estimated at just £20-40, took £1300 via thesaleroom.com. The plated metal clasp – locked via a keyhole to the handle – included the inscription Patent Ang Deutchland Oesterreich, Engl Frankreich H&B Russl. Amerika.
5. 1791 sampler – £1850
A mixed lot of needlework offered by Ramsay Cornish in Edinburgh on August 31 included a small oval sampler signed Mary Heseltine, York School 1791. It is typical Quaker work and from a well-known school.
The York Friends’ Girls’ School (also referred to as ‘the School in Trinity Lane’ and now known as the Mount School after a move in 1856) was founded by prominent local Quakers Esther and William Tuke in 1785. The school had 17 pupils in the first year with fees set at 14 guineas a year for ‘instruction, board and washing’. It formed strong ties among Quakers on both sides of the Atlantic.
The famous Ackworth School was nearby while a former York School student Elizabeth Bellerby became the first sewing teacher at the Westtown School in Chester County, Pennsylvania where similar samplers were produced.
The hammer price for this mounted but unframed sampler made in the first few years of the school’s history was £1850 (estimate £40-60). The winning bid came via thesaleroom.com.
6. ‘Stanley Spencer’ self portrait – £5600
Was this unfinished oil of a naked man in spectacles a self-portrait by Stanley Spencer (1891-1959)? The 2ft 6in x 20in (75 x 50cm) sketch offered for sale at Kent Auction Galleries in Folkestone on August 31 with a £100-200 estimate included an old typed label reading 'Studio Sale Stanley Spencer unfinished self portrait'.
It was not among the contents of the 290 lots Spencer's drawings, sketches, and unfinished paintings offered for sale by his daughters at Christie's in 1998 but may have formed part of an earlier dispersal. One internet bidder took a gamble at £5600.