Chinese lacquer workbox
A mid-19th century Chinese lacquer workbox – £7000 at Clarke & Simpson.

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1. Early views of Singapore – £3400

Singapore drawing

One of four English School sketches of the island of Singapore – £3400 at Forum Auctions.

When Singapore was established as a trading post of the British East India Company by Sir Stamford Raffles (becoming a British colony in 1824) there were only about a thousand people living on the island, mostly indigenous Malays.

By 1860, the population had swelled to over 80,000, more than half being Chinese.

As reminders of a global hub in its embryonic years, early topographical views of Singapore (like those of Hong Kong) are avidly sought.

This pencil, brush and ink drawing titled New Harbour Singapore is one of four views of the colonial settlement sold for an unexpected £3400 at an online sale of Books and Works on Paper held by Forum Auctions in London on July 25. They sold to an internet bidder well above hopes of £80-120.

The four English School sketches, that included scenes of local residents, colonial buildings and a view from St John’s island (the site of Raffles’ anchorage before meeting the Malay chief of Singapore in 1819), were each inscribed and dated for 1849-1851.

2. Ceramic group with rare toby jug – £2200

English ceramics

A group of ceramics that included a ‘Thin Man’ toby jug – £2200 at Gardiner Houlgate.

In this group of predominantly Victorian ceramics are two 18th century pieces: a typical polychrome delft plate of modest value and a far more commercial early English toby jug.

The lot was offered for sale as part of a Vintage and General Sale by Gardiner Houlgate of Corsham near Bath on July 25 with an estimate of just £50-80.

The green and brown glazed toby jug is of the so-called Thin Man type made – perhaps by the influential potter Ralph Wood – in Staffordshire c.1780-90. Its condition left much to be desired (there were chips to his tricorn hat, a missing pipe and repairs to the base) but these are the most desirable of all toby jugs and many collectors would have loved to bought it anywhere close to the estimate of just £50-80.

In fact a number of buyers had spotted it and the lot sold to an internet bidder at £2200.

3. Gardner ballet dancer – €3200

Porcelain figure by Francis Gardner

A porcelain figure of a ballet dancer by Francis Gardner – €3200 at Fonsie Mealy.

Although catalogued as ‘Continental’ this mid-19th century porcelain figure of a seated semi-nude ballet dancer carries impressed marks for the factory established by the English entrepreneur Francis Gardner in the town of Verbilki, near Moscow in 1766.

Gardner is best known for its series of idealised ‘old Russian’ characters – typically peasants, vendors and tradesmen who lived in the empire. However, this 8.5in (22cm) figure on its rococo base is from a series of more unusual and more risqué subjects made in the 1840s and 50s.

Skinner of Boston sold a group of them in 2006 for prices between $5000-10,000. This ballet dancer came for sale at Fonsie Mealy in Castlecomer, Kilkenny on July 23 where, pitched at €80-150, it after attracted interest from buyers in Russia and the UK. It sold to a bidder using thesaleroom.com at €3200.

4. King James Bible – £7800

Second edition of the King James Bible

A copy of the second edition of the King James Bible – £7800 at Charterhouse.

Famously described as “the only literary masterpiece ever to have been produced by a committee”, the Authorised version or King James Bible was first printed in 1611 by Robert Barker. Although the text proved hugely influential – it is estimated that it is responsible for 257 idioms in English – the printing itself was occasionally substandard.

Its many mistakes which were corrected in subsequent printings.

The second edition (with a title page dated 1611 but issued c.1613) is best known as the ‘She Bible’ for the reading She went into the citie in Ruth 3:15 (the early version had said ‘He’). An error in Matthew 26:36 replaces the word Judas for Jesus.

Complete copies of the ‘She Bible’ in early bindings are among the most sought-after books in the English language and can make five or six-figure sums. This example was in poor condition with several missing, fragmentary and prepared pages. The title page of the New Testament is present but has been pasted down onto card.

It was, however, offered for sale at Charterhouse’s auction in Sherborne on July 18-20 with very modest expectations of £100. Two American collectors bid against each other live on the internet as it sold at £7800.

5. Chinese lacquer workbox – £7000

Chinese lacquer workbox

A mid-19th century Chinese lacquer workbox – £7000 at Clarke & Simpson.

The interior of this 15in (38cm) mid-19th century Chinese gilt and black lacquer workbox (shown open) includes two layers of 15 small interlocking boxes.

The central cruciform shaped box has a pin cushion incorporated in the lid.

Surviving in good condition, it sold via thesaleroom.com for £7000 (estimate £400-600) at the Suffolk saleroom of Clarke & Simpson in Framlington on July 24.