1. William De Morgan red lustre jar – £9100
This 12.5in (31cm) red lustre jar and cover, a textbook piece from William De Morgan’s Sands End Pottery (1888-1907), was the standout lot from the sale held by Bowler & Binne in Dunfermline, Fife on June 13.
Estimated at £1200-1800, it sold for £9100.
Decorated with a bold design of stylised fish and waterweeds it carries a pull set of marks to the base plus the signature of Halsey Ricardo (1854-1928), the Arts and Crafts architect and designer who enjoyed a 10-year partnership with William De Morgan. Ricardo advocated the use of glazed materials to resist the pollution of urban Britain – his best-known project Debenham House in London’s Holland Park that is completely faced with impervious glazed materials, many of them made at the De Morgan factory.
2. 19th century footbath – £1700
Large, bold and decorative, transfer printed pottery footbaths have an appeal that goes beyond collectors of 19th century ceramics. A favourite with interior decorators they command sums way above the modest outlay required to own most Victorian toilet wares.
This agate ware example by Copeland & Garrett came for sale at Mendip Auction Rooms in Somerset on June 13. Despite a chip and a crack to the base it improved upon a guide of £80-120 to sell via thesaleroom.com at £1700.
3. Silverplated nutmeg grater – £1900
The house contents of Portobello Road market stalwart Joan Dunk (1930-2019) went under the hammer at Special Auction Services in Newbury on June 9-10.
Her stall, for decades an outside pitch on the corner of Westbourne Grove, was affectionately known as IDA – the trade name of an early 20th century German kitchen equipment manufacturer, which she adapted to mean ‘Interesting Domestic Appliances’.
Kitchenalia was one of several collecting passions (toys, dolls and teddy bears were another). This 3in (7cm) high late 19th century silverplated nutmeg grater with a milling mechanism was one of a number of nutmeg graters sold way over expectations.
Estimated at £80-120, it took £1900.
4. Vulcain Cricket wristwatch – £850
The original Vulcain Cricket was marketed in 1947 as the world’s first wristwatch with an alarm. Two challenges had to be overcome: fitting the complication into a small stainless steel case and then finding a way to make the sound resonate.
The Cricket name was chosen because the sound the watch made was reminiscent of a singing insect. Fully wound, the alarm could chirp for around 30 seconds.
Many dealers and collectors would have loved to own this 1950s example, offered on June 12 by Sutton Hill Country Auctions of Broughton Astley, Leicester at something close to the £30-40 estimate.
However, bidding reached £850.
5. Maltese modernism
Emvin Cremona (1919-87) is regarded as one of the best Maltese artists of the 20th century and the designer of most of the island’s stamps from 1957 to the 1980s.
However, his work rarely appears for sale in the UK.
Two signed and dated 1974 works were included in the sale of Modern British and 20th century at Sworders on June 10 including the mixed media painting of the harbour at Valetta titled Four Knights, A City Beyond.
The price of £6100 (estimate £3000-5000) is thought to be an auction record for the artist.