1. Kangxi blue and white dishes
This pair of textbook Kangxi period blue and white ‘narrative’ dishes sold to an internet bidder for £24,500 at David Lay in Penzance on February 20. Each measuring just under 8in (20cm) across, they follow woodblock prints of the popular epic poem Romance of the Western Chamber. The inscriptions reference the Jade capital (the celestial residence of the emperor of the sky).
The pair, that came with carved hardwood stands and an appealing estimate of £700-1000, were in near perfect condition with only a minute chip to count against them.
It emerged they had been purchased in the Far East approximately 85 years ago by vendor’s grandfather who, as one-time president of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, travelled in the region. The vendor had no idea of their value before they were spotted by Lay’s valuer Darren Ashley in a photograph of a crowded china cabinet.
2. Altar candlesticks – £3600
Estimated at £200-300 by Shaftesbury auctioneer Semley on February 22, this pair of Flemish brass pricket sticks sold for £3600 to a buyer using thesaleroom.com.
The 9in (22cm) altar candlesticks, with gothic styling and three crouching lion supports, are typical of those made in Belgium in the second half go the 15th century.
3. Constance Spry wall pocket – £2600
Responsible for the flowers at the Queen’s coronation, the society florist Constance Spry (1886-1960) is also credited with the ‘democratisation’ of flower arranging. She ‘married’ premium blooms with less celebrated plant materials (like kale and pussy willow) and collected unconventional vessels (from jam jars to attic curios) in which to house them.
Later in her career Spry created her own collection of flower containers with the Fulham Pottery Company.
Most of these 1950s vessels are priced in the low three-figures but others were produced in small numbers and are keenly sought after by decorators and Spry devotees.
This unglazed wall pocket, modelled as a swag of tassled fabric, measures a substantial (43cm) across and carries an impressed facsimile signature. It appeared for sale at TW Gaze in Diss, Norfolk on February 21 with hopes of £100-1500 but sold to a buyer using the saleroom.com at £2600.
4. Boxing-themed pottery – £2050
These two Georgian pottery vessels commemorative two of the best-known bareknuckle boxing matches of the era. The creamware mug is the earlier of the two pieces, dating from c.1790, marking the epic series of fights held between Daniel Mendoza (1764-1836) and Richard Humphries.
Mendoza, who did much to elevate the status of Jews in London during a period of significant antisemitism, is considered the first ‘modern’ boxer. He fought his former mentor and second Richard Humphries on four occasions from 1787-90. The two prize-fighters goaded each other in the British and the US press in the run up to each bout (trash-talking is not new in boxing) including two epic battles fought on May 6, 1789 (65 rounds) and on September 29, 1790 (72 rounds).
Mendoza, who favoured a defensive approach to pugilism, won them both for the middleweight crown.
The pearlware jug from c.1825 marks the clash between heavyweights Tom Spring (1795-1851) and the Irish fighter Jack Langan. The pair fought on two occasions – Spring winning both including the 77-round contest held in January 1824 at Witchcraft in Worcestershire. The fight for a purse of 300 sovereigns drew a crowd of some 40,000.
Pottery souvenirs relating to the early years of professional boxing are eagerly sought. This pair, estimated to bring just £60-80, sold for £2050 at Charles Ross in Woburn on February 14.
5. HMS Victory model cannon – £4200
The Fine Art Sale at Tayler & Fletcher’s North Cotswold Saleroom on February 20 included this fine quality bronze scale model of a 24-pounder cannon from HMS Victory's middle gun deck.
The model is stamped with the cypher of George III and stands, with ramrod and lead cannonballs as accessories, on a 19th century maple platform.
It carries a plaque with the date 1765 – the year that Victory was launched. Estimated at £150-250, it sold to a buyer using thesaleroom.com at £4200.