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This porcelain plate from the vast Raphael Service made for Tsar Alexander III of Russia comes under the spotlight at the Tamlyns auction in Bridgwater on March 8.

The service was commissioned in 1883 from the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in St Petersburg for the Tsarskoselsky Palace, and supervised by chief painter Leonard Schaufelberger with the direct involvement of Alexander III.

Its decoration was influenced by the designs of Raphael frescoes in the loggia of the Vatican. During the production of the service, which took 20 years, parts were annually presented to the tsar as Christmas gifts.

Consigned by a west Somerset family, this plate is brightly painted with ornamental designs and an allegorical composition. The reverse includes the imperial cypher for Alexander III and an 1886 date.

Estimate £4000-5000.


A selection of 18th and 19th century pistols and flintlock blunderbusses are included in the Militaria, Arms, Armour & Ethnographica sale on March 8 at Tennants of Leyburn in North Yorkshire. This 18th century firearm by Richard Wilson of London is estimated at £2000-3000.


This pair of inuit-type snow goggles with cross-shaped eye slits was used by Thomas Soulsby Williamson on both of Captain’s Scott’s voyages to the Antarctic.

Accompanying the snow goggles, worn to limit the effects of snow blindness, is a letter from Williamson to a Mr Frank Cork, written on notepaper bearing the Terra Nova logo. It reads: “These pair of goggles given by me to Mr Frank Cork as a mark of esteem were used by me on both of my Expeditions, National Antarctic Expedition 1901-1904, British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913.”

Williamson was an able seaman on board the expedition ship Discovery and served as petty officer on the Terra Nova expedition. He was part of the major sledging sortie that discovered the bodies of Scott and his men lying in a tent just 11 miles from their next food and fuel depot. The goggles are guided at £2000-3000 in Morphets’ March 2 sale in Harrogate, and have been consigned by a local family alongside a Terra Nova expedition Dunn Bennett plate (estimate £1000-1500).


Over 100 lots of books of Cornish interest from the collection of Harold Bowden feature in Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s antiquarian book auction on March 15 in Exeter.

Bowden, who was born and raised in Cornwall, amassed his collection from the mid-1970s until his death in 2009. He bought works by antiquaries such as William Borlase, Richard Carew and John Norden from auctions and shops in the UK and the US.

One highlight is Specimens of British Minerals, a scarce work of 1797-1802 by Philip Rashleigh, who owned the finest collection of Cornish minerals ever assembled.

Two volumes bound as one in period half moroco gilt, it features 54 handcoloured plates.

Estimate £3500-5000.