1. Edward VIII photos – £8500
This pair of portrait photographs of the young Edward VIII offered by Chiswick Auctions on October 10 are possibly unique. It was thought they were once owned by the English socialite Freda Dudley Ward, who had a long affair with the Prince of Wales before he met Thelma Furness and then Wallace Simpson.
The prints, signed by the Bassano studio of London with photographer's pencil marks along the margins, show the prince in mirror-like head and shoulders profile poses. Each image is signed and dated E.1919 on the front and David, Aug 1919 on the verso. They were consigned by a vendor whose grandmother was Freda Dudley Ward’s personal maid in the 1920s. Offered together with a full-length photograph of Freda Dudley Ward (1894-1983) holding her two Yorkshire terriers with an estimate of £1000-1500, they took £8500.
Although she married Dudley Ward in 1913, Freda had a relationship with Edward from 1918 until 1929. She was supplanted in his affections, first by Thelma Furness (1904-70) and then by Wallis Simpson.
2. Charles II wassail bowl – £28,000
Wassailing ceremonies on important feast days were a legacy of Anglo-Saxon culture. The ancient word ‘wassail’ meaning ‘good health’ was exchanged as a bowl of mulled ale was passed round the table for guests to share.
The bowl had become, by the Stuart period, a significant status symbol and grew greatly in size during the 17th century, thanks to the adoption of the Caribbean hardwood lignum vitae for turning around 1660. Given its remarkable durability, the timber was ideal for making large drinking vessels, especially as its resin was also considered to have healing properties (the name means ’tree of life’ in Latin).
The pinnacle in this production were the large bowls made in the Restoration era, such as the example offered at Woolley & Wallis on October 4-5.
The Salisbury firm has sold several Charles II examples in recent years including one that made £14,000 in 2017. The 11in (27cm) bowl pictured here did even better.
Part of the Adler collection of around 50 lots of treen, it had been purchased from London dealer Maria Baer. It includes a contemporary silver rim with the inscription Antony Rindo Exeter above an engraved border of foliate lobes. Appealing to a wide range of collectors, it made £28,000 (estimate £3000-5000).
3. Louis Wain ceramic cat – £3600
A single-owner collections of Louis Wain (1860-1939) ceramics was offered at Kinghams in Moreton in Marsh on October 6. The private collection, amassed by a Cotswold-based enthusiast comprised a vast array of Wain’s pottery and porcelain felines sold in 29 lots.
The collection included eight of the desirable Futurist or Cubist cats created at a time when the Futurism movement was burning at its brightest.
These feline characters were first exhibited in 1914 as part of a menagerie of geometric animals numbering nine cats, a pig, and a dog. Wain gave them names such as the Lucky Futurist Cat or the Lucky Haw Haw Cat.
None were produced in any great quantity (they were made in Europe and in England during two periods of production either side of the First World War). Famously, a shipment carrying some of the early output to the US was torpedoed by a German U-boat.
The examples offered here were made for the London ceramics retailer Max Emanuel & Co and measured around 6in (15cm) high. Against modest estimates of around £500 each, the Lucky Egyptian Cat with pointed ears and red and green stripes sold for £3600 and a Lucky Knight Errant Cat, modelled with shield and feathered helmet, brought £3000.
4. Cadbury’s enamel sign – £5800
The artist Cecil Aldin (1870-1935) was best known for his portraits of dogs and other animals, but his romanticised village and hunting scenes were also very popular. The picture of an Edwardian family in a landau carriage outside a shop selling Cadbury’s Cocoa was already looking anachronistic when created for the Bournville factory c.1900.
With the slogan Cadbury’s Cocoa, Do Your Shopping Early, this pictorial enamel sign is considered something of an all-time classic.
This 4ft x 3ft (1.2m x 90cm) example was in good unrestored condition with only chips to the edges and an area above the lady’s hat. It came for sale at Unique Auctions in Lincoln on September 23 it was guided at £1000-1500 but sold at £5800.
5. Italian pietra dure panel – £19,000
This Italian polychrome lava stone and pietra dure panel offered by Roseberys London on September 27 is of a distinctive type attributed to the Sicilian mosaicist Giovanni Battista Cali.
The central scene depicts the Hesiodic Cyclopes, the brothers Arges, Brontes, Steropes, forging the thunderbolt of Zeus, and is flanked on the left by a view of Mount Etna with Catania cathedral and with the Cyclopean Isles to the right. The whole (set into a later oak table) measures 2ft 1in x 2ft 1in (85 x 63cm).
Relatively little is known about Cali although, active in Naples in the second half of the 19th century, he pioneered the use of lavic stone in his compositions. A series of signed examples by the maker are in the Museum of San Martino, Villa Rosebery and the Royal Palace in Naples.
A marble and pietre dure panel signed by Cali with a scene of the eruption of Mount Etna and the port of Catania with a similar border sold Sotheby’s in April 2010 for, £15,000.
Given its setting, it was not possible to ascertain if Roseberys panel (in a UK private collection for more than a century) is signed but, estimated at £6000-10,000, it raced away to bring £19,000.