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Offered during two simultaneous sales at the Leyburn rooms, the 965 lots covering the range of dealing and collecting enjoyed an 82% selling rate, bringing a total of £1.6m with successes across the board.

Furniture

English furniture sold solidly enough, particularly the more practical pieces. Two mahogany dining tables from the third quarter of the 19th century were offered in time for big family gatherings over Christmas.

One triple-pillar D-end example with three extra leaves, giving a length of 12ft 11in (3.93m), nearly tripled the top estimate at £5800. The other, of rounded rectangular form extending to 15ft 10in (4.82m) with six extra leaves, took £4200 against a £2000-3000 estimate.

The sale stars, however, were 19th century French pieces reflecting the relative buoyancy of this area of the furniture market. Significantly, it was the trade doing the buying.

Two of the main attractions came from Le Pavilion, a mid-20th century house built in the park of the 18th century Shortgrove Estate in Essex. It was furnished in older, country-house style and provided about 40 lots to the sale (see Art Market p18-19).

Coming from a deceased estate, the consignment was given modest estimates with two lots performing far better than expectations.

One was a pair of Napoleon III ebony-veneered and parcel gilt meubles d’entrée deux, pitched at £1500-2000; the other a Charles X maplewood table de milleu estimated at £500-700. Neither was illustrated in the catalogue but online images alerted the trade.

The narrow twin cabinets, standing 3ft 3in (99cm) tall on plinth bases, had veined green marble tops above moulded cupboard doors and sold to a dealer at £8500.

The table, with a 3ft 6in x 2ft (1.07m x 61cm) Egyptian red porphyry slab top within a gilt bronze surround, sold at £28,000.

“It was in sleepy country house condition and there was a chunk missing from the marble top,” said auctioneer Jeremy Pattison.

“It went to a dealer from the south. Possibly he had, or knew of, a pair to it.” With restoration costs to come, plainly the dealer had considerable confidence in the table.

From a different source came a more decorative 19th century rosewood, tulipwood and ormolu-mounted breakfront cabinet in Louis XV style.

Illustrated above, the 5ft 2in (1.58m) tall cabinet featured five porcelain panels depicting 18th century figures and flowers.

Estimated at £2000-3000, it was another trade buy at £12,000.

Ceramics and works of art

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A c.1765 Chelsea vase – £8000.

Quietly encouraging results provided justification for the belief in the slow revival of the Japanese market.

A pair of 8½in (22cm) tall Meiji lacquer and shibayama trumpet-necked bottle vases illustrated with birds among flowers went to a continental bidder at an eight-times estimate £5800.

Two baluster-form vases signed Makuza Kozan Sei, the acclaimed potter working in Yokohama in the late 19th-early 20th century, left estimates of £600-800 behind.

One, 13in (33.5cm) tall featuring dragons on a yellow ground, was bought by a UK collector at £3800. The other, 14in (35cm) high and decorated with lilies on a green background, went to the London trade at £2300.

Best of the English ceramics was a c.1765 Chelsea urn-shaped vase and cover, painted with classical figures in a scene derived from Carl van Loo’s engraving of Aeneas Bearing Anchises from Troy.

With gilt-metal mounts, the 10½in (27cm) tall vase doubled the mid-estimate, selling to the London trade at £8000.

The strong demand for fine Italian micro-mosaic work was evidenced by two early 19th century Roman works.

A pair of 2½in (6.5cm) diameter plaques decorated with the tomb of Cecilia Metella and a ruined temple went to an Italian bidder at a six-times mid-estimate £6000.

Another, measuring 1 x 2in (3 x 5cm), decorated with Marcus Aurelius on horseback, was bought by a London dealer at £3500 against an estimate of £200-300.

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Early 19th century Roman micro-mosaic plaques – £6000.

Silver

Some healthy results for traditional silver included a pair of armorial sauceboats with flying dolphin handles by James Kirkup, Newcastle, 1747, which went to a collector at £7400. A cream jug, with a maker’s mark for John Hamilton, Dublin c.1730-40, took £6500 from a London dealer.

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Dublin c.1730-40 silver cream jug – £6500.

Both went at around seven times the mid-estimates.

The appeal of a 22½in (57cm) tall, 197oz candelabrum centrepiece by Robert Hennell, London 1853, was enhanced by the decoration of a detailed foxhunting scene to the base and the dedication to a Co. Durham master of hounds ....from his friends in Consideration of His Disinterested Preservation of Foxes. Estimated at £2000-4000, it sold at £7500.

Topping the section, as expected, was a 3in (8cm) wide continental gold and blue enamelled snuff box set to the cover back and sides with enamelled panels after Boucher.

Unmarked but catalogued as in the manner of Jean Ducrollay, possibly 19th century, the box was estimated at £5000-7000 and went to a continental bidder at £12,000.

Horology

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A c.1765 Pyefinch angle barometer – £9000.

The eye-catchers here were two barometers, one selling on its looks, the other on its specialist interest. First up was a c.1850 wheel barometer signed Gray, Strand Street Liverpool.

Generally, wheel barometers are the least fashionable of forms, but this 3ft 7in (1.1m) high example was distinguished by its case in the form of a fouled anchor. Against a £500- 700 estimate, it sold at £3100.

The second was a c.1765 mahogany angle barometer of the same height signed by the influential maker H[enry] Pyefinch, London. At around this time, Pyefinch, working with a Portuguese scientist with the splendid name Magellan, patented an instrument to measure the effect of the weight of the atmosphere and the variations caused by heat and cold.

The barometer at Tennants featured a perpetual regulation of time dial, apertures for the equation of days of the month, sun rises and sun sets, feast days, zodiac signs, and high water at London Bridge.

Illustrated above, the barometer needed a deal of restoration to the broken thermometer, cracked angle mercury tube, dial and missing adjustment knobs. Nevertheless, it tripled the top estimate, selling to a London dealer at £9000.

20th century design

As usual at Tennants’ tri-annual sales, a large selection of Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson furniture was offered – 94 lots, of which 88 sold, contributing more than £100,000 to the day’s total.

Top-seller was a 4ft 9in (1.45m) panelled sideboard bought new in 1942 for £21 which went to a private bidder at a top-estimate £5000.

As mentioned in the Gildings report on page 16, the market in Martinware grotesques – well served in recent years as prices peaked – has lost a little of its previous shine.

At Leyburn, an incised 1898, 9½in (24cm) stoneware bird jar and cover by Robert Wallace Martin, modelled as a sergeant-major standing stiffly with puffed out chest, sold on its lower estimate to a collector at £20,000.

Another familiar name at 20th century design sales is Ferdinand Preiss, who was represented at Leyburn by a typical cold painted bronze and ivory figure, Con Brio.

The dancing girl in a two-piece costume and cloche hat, balancing on one leg with arms outstretched, stood on a bronze and stepped green onyx base signed F. Preiss in the cast.

Estimated at £6000-9000, the 13in (32.5cm) figure sold at £11,000.