1. Scandinavian silver vase – £600
Svend Hammershoi (1873-1948), younger brother of painter Vilhelm, is best known as a ceramicist but he was also a silversmith. In 1925 Hammershoi and the Copenhagen craftsman Holger Kyster (1872-1944) was awarded a gold medal at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris for silverware.
This 5in (12cm) high heavy gauge silver vase c.1920 is marked SH for Svend Hammershoi and H Kyster. It formed part of a timed online sale of Scandinavian silver, jewellery and ceramics held by Burstow & Hewett (20% buyer’s premium) in Battle, East Sussex. Closing on May 8, it had reached its low estimate of £600.
2. Golden Jubilee 1887 coins – £11,000
Against the background of the Golden Jubilee in 1887, the Royal Mint issued a small number of full proof sets of the British coinage – the first since 1853. The engraver Joseph Edgar Boehm (1834-90) was chosen to create the obverse portrait of Victoria with his initials appearing on each specimen.
There were 11 coins in the 1887 set from the gold £5 piece to the silver threepence. A £2 piece made its first appearance in 56 years while the silver double florin was issued for the first time.
Relatively few full sets survive in original cases with the best examples retailing for over £30,000. This made the £2000-3000 estimate on a set offered by Hansons in Etwall on May 6 appear very attractive. So it proved when it sold via thesaleroom.com at £11,000.
3. Lake Huron letter – £3800
The sale at Forum Auctions in London on May 7 included a remarkable letter penned in Drummonds Island, Lake Huron by one F Austin to his brother Thomas in 1818. Across four pages he writes of his experiences in the Great Lakes region more than a decade before Michigan became the 26th state of the Union in 1837.
“I was ordered up to the Red River with the Commission who were appointed to investigate the late disputes between the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West [Company]. I took 40 men with me... The distance from this place is 1400 miles, and in part inhabited by Indians, we went in canoes. This is a most miserable place, we are entirely amongst Indians, and for six months have no communication with the lower country...”
It was sold together with another manuscript with the words of Death Song of the Cherokee Indians, a ballad in celebration of the ‘noble savage’ by Anne Hunter (1742-1821) that was first published in London in 1784. The lot was estimated at a modest £100-150 but bidding reached £3800.
4. Zhang Daquian leaves – £32,000
These two 21in (52cm) fan leaf paintings, one with a panel of calligraphy, the other with an ink and colour landscape, are by Zhang Daquian (1899-1983). Later in life he was renowned as a modern Impressionist and Expressionist painter but he was originally known as a guohua (traditionalist) painter, producing many works like these prior to the 1960s.
Ironically, for an artist deemed one of the most gifted forgers of the 20th century, Zhang’s own work is today much-imitated so provenance is key.
These two leaves came sale at Chiswick Auction’s Asian art sale on May 10 from the personal collection of the late Brian Morgan (1930-2018), formerly a director of London Asian art powerhouse Bluetts. Estimated at £10,000-15,000, the two leaves, framed together, sold at £32,000 via thesaleroom.com.
5. Cecil Beaton sketch – £1700
The sale of Modern British art held ’behind closed doors’ by Bonhams in Knightsbridge on May 12 included 22 pen and ink drawings by Cecil Beaton (1904-1980 used as part of Beaton’s The Book of Beauty published in 1930).
Sold to the owner as a single lot by Christie’s back in 1988, they were offered here separately with hopes of £400-£1800 apiece.
Selling at £1700 was this 15 x 13in (39 x 33cm) sketch of Daisy Fellowes (1980-1962), heiress to the Singer sewing machine fortune and a notable beauty and trendsetter in the 1920s and 30s.
In The Book of Beauty, Beaton wrote: “If the door is opened and the willowy Mrs Fellowes swishes in, all eyes are upon her and she completely vanquishes any other beauty who may be unfortunate enough to be present.”