1. Mouseman powder bowl – £4800 at Tennants
Smaller decorative pieces by Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson (1876-1955) continue to excel in the saleroom.
Tennants’ June 19 sale included a number of prime period wares made for local Kilburn resident Patricia Kirk in the 1940s and 50s. They included a powder bowl with carved mouse trademark to the cover commissioned for her 21st birthday in 1948.
This 4in (10.5cm) vessel is similar to another sold for an unexpected £3100 at the Leyburn auctioneer’s equivalent sale in 2020 although it is octagonal and exhibited a more pleasing patination.
It was rewarded with a mighty mouse bid of £4800 (estimate £1000-1500).
2. Beilby armorial wine glass – £12,000
Faced with the prospect of no male heir to his Redworth Hall estate, the County Durham landowner Robert Surtees (1694-1785) engineered a match between his youngest daughter Jane (1751-1825) to her first cousin, Lieutenant Crosier Surtees (1740-1803).
The couple were married in 1769, the event marked by the commissioning of a set of rococo enamelled wine glasses from the celebrated Beilby family workshop in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Each was decorated with the Surtees family arms in a palette of red, yellow and white.
Four very rare survivors of this unrecorded set, known by the Surtees family as 'The Marriage Glasses', starred in Bonhams' Fine Glass and British Ceramics sale in London on June 23. Specialist Jim Peake deemed them “remarkable, not only because they can be so precisely dated and attributed, but also because they have remained together in the same family since they were commissioned in the 18th century, when other similar sets were dispersed or lost long ago.”
Offered individually, one glass estimated at £8000-12,000 sold at £12,000 with the remaining three glasses with condition issues, estimated at £5000-8000 each, sold at sums between £7500 and £8500.
The union between the Surtees cousins was not a happy one. Although it produced 11 children, by 1800 Crosier, a drunkard and a womaniser, had decamped to live with his mistress. He met his untimely end three years later falling off a horse into a stream on the moors one evening after banqueting with the Earl of Darlington, his frozen body discovered the following day.
3. Herbert Whone’s Glasgow Tram – £13,000
Growing collector interest in the work of musician-artist Herbert Whone (1925-2011) has seen his auction record price being beaten on an almost annual basis in recent years.
The previous high of £11,000 was bettered at McTears in Glasgow on June 20 when a well-known image Glasgow Tram, signed and dated 1962, sold at £13,000. It came for sale from the estate of the actor Johnny Beattie (1926-2020).
Whone was born in Bingley, West Yorkshire, where his parents were both employed in the cloth mill, but he moved to Glasgow in 1955, where he took up the position of deputy leader of the Scottish National Orchestra. He lived there for seven years where he painted a small but notable series of canvases featuring a city in transition. Of this body of work, trams and shipbuilding on and around the Clyde were two of his fondest subjects.
4. Commonwealth silver wine goblet – £9500
Mallams’ Jewellery, Watches and Silver sale on June 16 included this Commonwealth silver wine goblet. It carries marks for the maker IG above a star and for London 1655 and has the pricked initials L over WM.
Dating from the tumultuous period when Puritanism was the dominant form of religious expression in England, silver from this period is notably plain, typically lacking the decorative flourishes seen before and after the Interregnum.
As many pieces were subsequently melted down or reworked, survivors are rare. This piece, in relatively good condition with clear marks to both the bowl and the underside of the base, attracted a raft of phone bidders at its estimate of £300-500. The hammer price was £9500.
5. Coffee can from Nelson’s Baltic Service – £2000
A solitary coffee can from the Baltic Service was among the highlights of Hansons’ sale in Bishton Hall, Staffordshire on June 9 selling to a collector at £2000. Painted on Paris porcelain, it is decorated with an oak leaf border and a fouled anchor with the word Nelson above and 2nd April, Baltic beneath. The sides read: 14th February and Glorious 1st.
The origin of the Baltic Service is uncertain but it is generally believed to have belonged to Nelson himself. It is traditionally believed that the set – comprising both Copeland and Paris porcelain blanks embellished in a London decorating workshop – was part of a presentation of chinaware given to Nelson in 1802 by the Ladies of the City of London when Nelson was invited to ride in the Lord Mayor's Coach and attend a banquet in his honour.
A teaset was delivered to Merton, the house Nelson shared with Emma Hamilton and is listed there in a 1805 inventory but other family members are known to have owned elements of the service. By descent from Nelson's niece, Charlotte Nelson, Duchess of Bronte, the Lord Bridport's sale at Christie's in July 1895 featured many pieces.
Only occasionally do elements turn up for sale today. A teapot from the service sold for £28,000 at a ‘Waterloo’ theme sale held by Bonhams in 2015.