American silver-plated cocktail shaker
An American silver-plated cocktail shaker modelled as a lighthouse, $14,000 (£11,410) in Sotheby’s prohibition-themed sale. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

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Made by the International Silver Co in Meriden, Connecticut, the 15in (38cm) high model was based on the Boston Lighthouse, the first lighthouse to be built in America. It was raised to the ground by the English in 1776 and then re-built in 1783. This model was made in two sizes, the larger edition measuring 20in high.

Signed on the base, the example at Sotheby’s was in good condition for its age. Being an unusual item and making a rare appearance on the market, it outstripped a $3000-5000 estimate at the online timed auction that closed on May 21, bringing 14 separate bids and selling at $14,000 (£11,410).

With premium, the buyer will pay $17,500 (£14,260).

For the sale, Sotheby’s partnered with Alan Bedwell, owner of vintage accessories gallery Foundwell, to curate a selection of barware and related silver items. The auction was timed for centenary of the introduction of prohibition – when the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcoholic drink was banned in the US in 1920.

James Dixon and Sons flask

Double spirit flask with two drinking cups disguised as a pair of binoculars by James Dixon & Sons, $4200 (£3420) in Sotheby’s prohibition-themed sale. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Another lot that brought strong bidding was rare 1930s silver-plated double spirit flask disguised as a pair of leather covered binoculars. Made by the English silversmiths James Dixon & Sons, the lens caps can be twisted off and filled with an alcoholic drink while the objective lenses on the reverse conceal two removable cups.

The binoculars were estimated at $800-1200 and, after a number of interest parties left no fewer than 26 bids online, the lot sold at $4200 (£3420) – $5250 with premium.

The overall premium-inclusive total for the sale was $303,375 (£247,250).

The buyer’s premium at Sotheby’s was 25/20/13.9%.

£1 = 1.23