1. c.1900 drinks stand – £1700
This unusual oak and electroplated tantalus formed as a coopered pail sold for £1700 (estimate: £80-120) at Criterion in Islington on September 9. The ice bucket, with its plated band inscribed Pass The Bucket, contains four decanters in a plated stand while below a tray swings out to reveal a dozen shot glass.
It probably dates from c.1900 – its aristocratic origins referenced via an engraved crest to the cover.
2. 1948 Olympic medal – £2000
A rare medal worn by an official at the 1948 Summer Olympics sold for £2000 at Piers Motley in Exmouth on September 9. The winning bid came online way above the top estimate of just £75.
The 1948 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XIV Olympiad, was held in London from July 29- to August 14, 1948. The first Summer Olympics held since the 1936 games in Berlin, the event came to be known as the Austerity Games. Rationing was imposed, there was no ‘Olympic village’ and no new venues were built.
Nonetheless a record 59 nations were represented despite the absence of Germany and Japan (not invited to participate) and the Soviet Union (that chose to send only observers rather than athletes).
This particular medal, with its blue enamel bar, has a ribbon attached inscribed for the Torquay Organising Committee. While most events were held in or around London the sailing events at the Games took place in Torquay. One of host nation Great Britain's three gold medals at the Games came in the Swallow class.
3. Doulton Lambeth character mug – £3800
While the general market for Doulton wares is at a low ebb, rarities buck the trend.
Rowley’s in Ely on September 7 sold this Doulton Lambeth stoneware character mug sold for £3800. The estimate was just £50-100.
The 4in (10cm) high model of a grinning figure with a pudding bowl hair style wearing a crown centred with a ‘C' (perhaps for Old King Cole) appears to be unrecorded. While a range of stoneware toby jugs was produced by Harry Simeon in the mid 1920s, this jug has some similarities to the range of wares designed by Leslie Harradine for the Lambeth factory in the years prior to the outbreak of the First World War.
4. Elizabethan witticisms – £4200
Estimated at £200-300 but sold for £4200 at Lawrences of Crewkerne on September 6 was this rare work by William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester titled The Lord Marques Idleness: Conteining manifold matters of acceptable deuise; as sage sentences, prudent precepts, moral examples, sweete similitudes, proper comparisons, and other remembrances of speciall choise.
Among Paulet’s witticisms are: ‘Men that reade much and worke little are as bells, which do sound to call others, and they themselves never enter into the church.’ And on 'Women' he advises: ‘I know not what justice this is, that they kill men for robbing and stealing money, and suffer women to live and steale men's harts.’
Published in London in 1586 and again the following year, this work dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I is considered by one author to be the first English book of essays. It is reputed to have been privately printed by the author and presented as gifts. This first edition copy, bearing the bookplate of Elwin Millar, was bound in 19th century half morocco boards.
5. Lonitz majolica owls – £11,500
Although the Hugo Lonitz factory in Neuhaldensleben in the east of Germany produced a range of domestic tablewares and small collectables, the factory is best known for its naturalistic majolica groups, particularly animal and bird groups modelled in lifelike size and detail. The factory mark is two fish within an oval.
Lonitz exhibited at several of the 19th century international exhibitions. A cataloguer to the 1876 International Exhibition in Philadelphia describes Lonitz’s majolica as follows: “Hugo Lonitz, Neuhaldensleben; near Magdeburg, Prussia. Exhibits a collection of animals and animal heads – some of them life-size, for wall and other decorations, as horses, dogs, deer, wild boar, etc.; yellow terra-cotta body of moderate hardness, painted in natural colours and fired at a low temperature. Some of these are artistically modelled and expressive, and coloured with judgment.”
Typical of the wares one might have encountered at the Lonitz stand is this pair of models of owls, each standing 15in (38cm) high. They emerged for sale at Mitchells in Cockermouth on September 6 where – despite some minor faults to the extremities – the pair took £11,500. The price was many times the estimate of £400-600 and compares to the price of a single figure of the long-eared owl that had sold for $15,750 when offered by majolica specialists Strawser Auctions in Wolcottville, Indiana in April 2013.
6. Russian jewelled icon – £16,000
This fine quality jewelled and silver gilt icon c.1910 sold via thesaleroom.com for £16,000 (£800-1200) at Holloways of Banbury on September 10. The 13 x 11in (33 x 28cm) icon depicts Our Lady of Kazan, representing the Virgin Mary as the Holy Protectress of Russia, overlaid with a riza or oklad (cover) set with cabochons and cloisonné enamel work.
It has Moscow marks for 1908-26 and the unattributed maker’s mark EA.