DESIGNATED a Special Christmas Sale, the December 20 event at the Cotswold Auction Company (20% buyer’s premium) included material for all seasons by men who made the word Cotswolds synonymous with Arts & Crafts furniture.
Ernest Gimson and Sidney Barnsley, who set up the Sapperton workshop in 1893, their associate Peter Waals and Sidney’s son Edward were all represented in pieces from the collection of their brewer friend, Arthur Mitchell.
Mitchell commissioned many of the pieces from the early years for his Cheltenham house.
Pick of the group consigned to this sale, suitably also in Cheltenham, by Mitchell’s descendants was a 6ft 1in tall x 3ft wide (1.86m x 93cm) oak cupboard by Sidney Barnsley (1865-1926).
It was typical of his output, with stepped field panels to the two doors, inset quadrant mouldings to the five shelves, visible dovetail tenon and mortice joints, the five open shelves and all with ovolo chip carving. Estimated at £4000-6000, it sold at £13,000.
This is a quintessentially English field and all the bidding, a good mixture of trade and private, was from home soil.
Another strong seller was an oak chest on stand catalogued as by Gimson (who died in 1919) and/or Waals. The 3ft 5in (1.04m) wide chest had a lift-up top with six raised panels and chip carving throughout, and sold at £9500 against a £4000-6000 estimate.
Among the more affordable pieces going within estimates were a 19in (49cm) tall table lamp by Gimson at £1800 and a figured walnut single bed with holly and ebony chequered stringing by Waals at £1100.
Top-seller was a rather different product from the Cotswolds workshops: an English walnut longcase made by Edward Barnsley housing a regulator movement by Dent & Co.
Standing 6ft 10in (2.07m) tall, with an octagonal glazed doors and fielded panels with holly and ebony chequered stringing, it had a brass label to the interior engraved: Sir William Waters Butler bequeathed certain monies to his friend Arthur Mitchell and this clock and case were commissioned therefrom, to commemorate 40 years friendship and work together.
The case was designed by Barnsley and made by him and his chief assistant H Upton in 1940.
Putting an estimate on it was something of a problem for auctioneer Elizabeth Poole as there is little around with which to compare – one known example of a longcase being in the Wilson Museum at Cheltenham.
Nevertheless, the £20,000-30,000 guide proved only marginally optimistic and it sold at £19,000.
Another longcase, a c.1925 macassar ebony work inlaid with mother-of-pearl by Waals, failed against a similar estimate – but it was lacking its weights. Should they be unearthed it will no doubt fare better at the next outing.