1. Charles Jeffries concertina – £3000
The premier name in Anglo-German concertinas – hugely popular during the middle and late 19th century – is Charles Jeffries. An itinerant brush maker and an aspiring musician in his younger days, by the 1860s Jeffries had turned first to repairing and then to making Anglo concertinas.
His instruments – categorised according to the keys arranged in two, three or four rows – are much coveted by Irish folk musicians. The example, in its original leather case, offered by British Bespoke Auctions in Winchcombe on May 29 was estimated at just £30-40 but sold to an online bidder via thesaleroom.com at £3000.
2. Edward Bawden lithograph and letter – £9200
This version of Edward Bawden’s celebrated colour lithograph of Liverpool Street Station comes with a bonus. Not only is it signed, inscribed with the title, numbered 35/40 and dated 1961 but it was sold to together with a letter from the artist to the vendor's father.
Writing from Brick House in Great Bardfield, Essex, Bawden comments: “Thank you for your letter & for enclosing a cheque in payment for a print. The edition is very nearly exhausted because of the publicity the print has received. All the available printed copies have been sold, but another batch is now being printed & when this laborious operation has been completed, (each copy is printed by foot!) I will send you a copy. I trust you will not mind waiting for about three weeks as the operation is not only laborious but rather slow.”
Offered by Anderson & Garland in Newcastle on May 23, it sold to an online bidder at £9200 (estimate £2000-3000).
3. Longines Skin Diver wristwatch – £18,000
The original Longines Skin Diver wristwatch was the maker’s first bespoke diving watch. Relatively large for the time at 4cm across, it came out in 1959 shortly after similar releases from Omega, Rolex and other sports makers. The design has proved something of a classic (it was recently re-released as part of the Longines Heritage range) but vintage watches are rare.
This example that appeared for sale at Tooveys in Washington, West Sussex on May 23 was estimated at £250-350 but was pursued to £18,000. The winning bid came via thesaleroom.com. The watch lacked its black Bakelite bezel – a feature that proved rather fragile and often required replacement.
4. Doucai vase – £55,000
Discussions regarding the date of Chinese ceramics are commonplace in the market.
This 7in (18cm) wide doucai wall-mounted flower vase in underglaze blue and enamels was thought by Dreweatts of Donnington Priory, Newbury on May 23 to be a 20th century copy.
However, with some bidders believing it to be 18th century, it sold at £55,000 – many times the £200-300 estimate.
5. Rose Henriques bombsite painting – £12,000
The sale at Burstow & Hewitt in Battle, Sussex on May 22 included a small cache of oils by the storied Modern British artist and charity worker Rose Henriques (1877-1972). All improved massively upon estimates of just £100-200 each.
The most desirable of these works were those painted during the heat of the Blitz. Henriques, who worked as a warden of the St George's Jewish Settlement in Stepney for more than 40 years, served as an air-raid warden in the Second World War and oversaw and emergency feeding scheme for bombed-out Londoners.
Although not in the employ of the War Artists’ Advisory Commission, she completed a large number of drawings and paintings of wartime events in the East End.
As many of these are now held by the Museum of London (the basis of a 2013 retrospective in Tower Hamlets), relatively few examples of Henriques work appear on the market.
Fiercest competition in Sussex came for the 20in x 2ft (50 x 60cm) oil on canvas titled to the reverse There Goes Another, At Flying Bomb Incident. This evocative scene of searchlights illuminating a crane engaged in bomb clearance sold to an online bidder at £12,000.
As detailed in her autobiography, Fifty Years in Stepney published in 1966, Henriques went to Germany after the war to work with Jewish welfare groups at the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. It was only earlier this month that she was posthumously honoured by the British government with a British Hero of the Holocaust award.