1. Chinese brush pot – £51,000
The cylindrical brushpot appears to have been introduced into the repertoire of Chinese ceramic forms in the late 1620s and continued to be produced in quantity into the late Kangxi period.
This 8in (20cm) example offered by Lindsay Burns in Perth on October 5 is likely from the Transitional period – made in the era (1620-83) when court patronage of the porcelain factory at Jingdezhen all but dried up. Instead, ceramics were made for merchants, scholars and for export with production far more diverse than during ‘imperial’ times.
Blue and white narrative decoration, often painted with episodes from China’s literary epics, was particularly popular.
This piece, with the incised ‘anhua’ bands often seen on Transitional wares, came for sale from a vendor whose family had owned a Glasgow shipping company. In good condition, save a small rim chip, it looked seriously undercooked at its estimate of £200-300. So it proved when it took £51,000.
2. Scottish penwork box – £2000
The vast majority of Mauchline items seen today are engraved transfer-printed wares or other types of 'fancy Scotch woodwork' from the Victorian era such as fernware or tartanware.
But in a different league to these later souvenir wares are the ink-decorated sycamore pieces from the first half of the 19th century. A good example was offered for sale at Sworders’ Homes and Interiors sale in Stansted Mountfitchet on October 11 – a 5in (13cm) snuff box with a named view of Kinfauns Castle and sides and base worked with a tartan pattern.
In addition to an ownership inscription for Peter Clark, Glasgow, the piece has an impressed mark to the interior reading W & G Milne, Lau-kirk. William and George Milne were apprentices to the better-known Laurencekirk box maker Charles Stiven and both held administrative roles in the Kincardineshire town.
This box, estimated at £100-150, sold for £2000 as part of the contents of 9 Phillimore Terrace, the Kensington house where art dealer Jack Baer lived with his wife Diana for more than 50 years. Sworders has sold an extensive array of pictures and furnishings from the estate across a series of sales.
3. Ben Enwonwu sculpture – £34,000
Born in Nigeria, Ben Chukwukadibia Enwonwu (1917-94) trained in Lagos under the art curator and teacher Kenneth Crosswaithe Murray (1903-72) before being awarded a scholarship in 1944 to study in the UK at the Slade.
His sculptural work, described as African Modernism, was embraced by both the British colonial government (who employed Enwonwu to create posters for their propaganda campaigns) and those who sought political independence.
The sale of Modern British and 20th century art at Roseberys on October 11 included two good examples of Enwonwu’s work blending the tradition of African wood carving with European modernism. Both wood sculptures had been gifts from the artist and came by descent with guides of £10,000-15,000.
Pictured here is Female Form II, standing 2ft 4in (69cm) high, which sold at £34,000 while another sculpture of a half-length nude titled Woman and Afele sold to a different buyer via the saleroom.com at £30,000.
4. Blue john perfume burners – £70,000
Topping the sale of Fine Furniture, Works of Art & Clocks at Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury on October 6 was this very fine pair of blue john and ormolu perfume burners by Matthew Boulton and John Fothergill.
Estimated at £15,000-20,000, they took £70,000.
Determined to challenge French dominance in the market, Boulton and his partner had created a department for the large-scale production of ormolu works of art at the newly built Soho Manufactory in Birmingham in 1768.
Polished stone vases with mounts satisfying the craze for the ‘antique’ accounted for the majority of the firm’s ormolu production – the most popular made from the Derbyshire purple, blue and yellow fluorspar known as blue john. In March 1770 Boulton visited the court and sold several vases of this type to Queen Charlotte while others were offered at sales held by James Christie in 1771 and 1772.
A number of variations on a ‘Roman’ theme are extant, most with reversible covers allowing the vases to function as either a candle sconce or as a cassolette to hold perfume or incense. Many are illustrated Volume 1 of the Boulton & Fothergill pattern book preserved in Birmingham City Archives.
The 10in (24cm) pair at Woolley & Wallis are a particularly pleasing model, with ram's head terminals to the handles and white marble waisted socles. A pair is pictured in Nicholas Goodison’s Matthew Boulton: Ormolu (2002).
5. Tooth whitening advertising plaque – £3400
Among the most desirable of all ‘Prattware’ transfer printed wares are the series of very rare and highly decorative advertising plaques produced for firms such as Crosse & Blackwell and Huntley & Palmers.
The example offered by KInghams in Moreton-in-Marsh on October 6 is by TJ & J Mayer, a commercial rival to F. & R. Pratt of Fenton, the leading manufacturer of pot lids and a huge range of related wares. Although not obvious from the image of three Victorian ladies enjoying the theatre, it promotes the merits of Rowland's Odonto, a tooth whitening product.
A similar 9 x 6in (22 x 16cm) plaque was sold by Berkshire specialist Historical & Collectable in June 2001 for £3000 so this Gloucestershire example – part of a collection of pot lids and advertising wares – attracted a huge number of admirers at its £60-100 estimate. It took £3400.
By coincidence, another Meyer plaque made for Rowland's comes for sale at Historical & Collectable this month guided at £300-600. It depicts a maid combing the hair of a lady and is titled Rowland’s Macassar Oil.