1. Qianlong copper-red and underglaze blue lantern vase
Hansons’ Fine Art Auction in Etwall, Derbyshire on December 7 included this once magnificent Qianlong (1735-99) copper-red and underglaze blue lantern vase. Standing 18in (45cm) high it is decorated with a herd of deer, including a red stag and blue doe, amid a mountainous landscape with pine trees and rock work. The neck of the vase has parallel bands of similar auspicious symbols of cranes, clouds, lingzhi, prunus, fruiting peach branches and ruyi head motifs.
Large lantern vases of this type were a creation of the Qianlong period (this vase was probably made in the imperial kilns under the direction of Tang Ying in the 1740s) with the size and shape allowing a broad ‘canvas’ for decoration. A similar vase (with a hairline crack) sold for £625,000 at Duke’s in Dorchester in February 2010.
Hanson’s vase was discovered in a private Leicestershire house: it had been acquired by a local industrialist working in the China trade in the 1870s. It was in poor condition having been broken and reglued at the rim in nine pieces. The damage was apparently the result of a hunting party in the 1950s. Estimated at £15,000-£25,000 competition between 11 phone bidders plus online bidders pushed the hammer price to £200,000. The winning bid came via a private buyer in China using thesaleroom.com.
2. International Watch Company Luftwaffe pilot's watch
Estimated at £800-1000 at Adam Partridge in Macclesfield on December 3 but sold at £10,000 was this International Watch Company Luftwaffe pilot's watch c.1940.
These watches have become known as the B-UHR style, abbreviated for Beobachtungs-Uhren or ‘observation watch’. The oversized crown, used to stop the centre seconds for precise time setting, could be operated with gloves on while the extra-long straps (this one a modern replacement) meant they could be worn over a flight jacket.
The IWC watch had two dial variations: this one with the standard outer minute track and large triangle at 12 o'clock is dubbed Type A. The serial number FL23883 to the side of the case identifies the watch as one used for navigation.
3. Meissen porcelain ‘chinoiserie war chess’ set
The rules of kriegsspiel (war chess), popular at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, were partly based on the much older game of chess. Typically, kriegsspiel was played across three boards, with players only knowing the position of their own pieces and an umpire officiating.
Bonhams’ Fine European Ceramics on December 3 included this Meissen porcelain ‘chinoiserie war chess’ set. This version of the game had its own rules: unlike the European game, the figures were placed at the intersections of the lines rather than within each square and the moves were different.
Very few of these sets are known. Dating from the end of the 18th century, this one comprising 16 white and 16 polychrome pieces was previously sold at Sotheby’s in 1964 as the property of the well-known Surrey collector Nellie Ionides (1883-1962) of Buxted Park. One of the two cannons that flank five soldiers in the front rank is replacement and other pieces have restoration. It was estimated at £8000-12,000 but, appealing to both porcelain collectors and collectors of chess sets, it took £30,000.
4. Novelty claret jug
This rare novelty claret jug was consigned to the sale at Trevanion & Dean in Whitchurch, Shropshire, on December 5 by a private Cheshire vendor who had inherited it. Marked for Sampson Mordan, London 1882, it is modelled as Punch and Judy’s dog Toby, the head hinging open at the ruff and snout.
Standing just over 9in (23cm) high and weighing 34oz, the estimate was £8000-12,000 but it sold at £30,000 to a private collector in the South of England.
5. Chinese brushpot
The Asian art sale at Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury on December 7 was topped by this large Chinese brushpot (bitong) made in the much-revered hardwood zitan inlaid to the rim with silver wire. Measuring an impressive 12in (30cm) across, it was estimated at £8000-10,000, but sold at £210,000.
Although dated to the Qing period the fine quality carving of birds perched amidst prunus and bamboo in a rocky landscape includes an inscription with a date for the second year of the Chongzhen emperor's reign corresponding to 1630 (the end of the Ming period). The inscription, signed Dong Qichang, refers to a Chen Meigong admiring this piece at the Xiang Yi An temple in the city of Jiaxing.