ASA on premiums
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) continued its scrutiny of the auction market with a ruling that a Christie’s advert was ‘misleading’. Responding to a complaint, the ASA criticised the auctioneer’s notification of fees, such as buyer’s premium, and said that the world’s largest fine art auctioneer must rethink how it displays fees next to estimates. The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) guidance is that fees should be clear on each page of any advert or catalogue. Even at Christie’s, it seems, the small print in the terms and conditions is not enough.
Spectacular sales emerged at Frieze Masters in London’s Regent’s Park topped by the 1493 Sforza Wedding Hours – a lavishly illuminated manuscript created as a wedding gift for Bianca Maria Sforza on her marriage to the Holy Roman Emperor elect, sold by Dr Jörn Günther Rare Books for a price of around €3m.
At the grassroots level of the trade changes were afoot. Arthur Swallow Fairs has announced its antiques and home fairs at the Lincolnshire Showgrounds would drop from six two-day to four one-day events.
These will run on a Wednesday, one day ahead of IACF’s two-day antiques and collectors’ fairs at the Newark Showground, thus giving buyers a straight run at both fairs with stand prices falling by around a third.
Exhibitors had rather less notice to respond to the cancellation of the Kensington Antiques Fair. Dealers scrambled to notify clients after they were informed by eleventh-hour email that the three-day event would not be going ahead.
In other fairs news, two antique arms fairs announced they were combining – the Antique Arms Fair at Olympia in west London will now incorporate the long-running Park Lane Arms Fair – while plans were announced to relaunch The New York Antique Ceramics Fair after the annual event was cancelled earlier this year. Spearheaded by the traditional ceramics dealers who have exhibited in the past, the fair runs from January 17-20 at the Bohemian National Hall.
Tributes had been paid to Islamic art dealer Oliver Hoare who died aged 73 after a battle with cancer. In reporting his death, many newspapers chose to centre on his alleged affair with Princess Diana, but Hoare had been an influential art world figure, setting up the first Islamic art department of any major auction house after joining Christie’s in 1967.
Doubtless he would have been delighted by a newly discovered Ottoman charger – deemed one of the most important pieces of Iznik pottery remaining in private hands – that became the toast of London’s Islamic Week, selling at Sotheby’s for a spectacular £4.55m (£5.4m including buyer’s premium).
Elsewhere at auction, the recently discovered pair to the famous ‘Bainbridge vase’ sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on October 3 for HK$130m (£12.75m).
The vase, included in the 1905 Yamanaka exhibition in New York, was acquired by a Japanese collector in 1924. The so-called Bainbridge vase – offered by auctioneer Peter Bainbridge in Ruislip in 2010 – posted the highest price ever recorded for Chinese art when it was hammered down at £43m but the transaction was never completed.
When you consider that pieces can be had for as little as £100, it opens up a new world to potential decorative and historic collectors
Martin Clist managing director of Charles Ede on the accessible appeal of antiquities
A mantel clock designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) for the last Viceroy of India c.1931-32 sold for a record £112,500 (plus 25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) at Phillips in London on October 18. A quirky design, its brass key finial is cast as a pansy – a pun on the French word penser and a reminder to wind it up. The oval face requires hands that expand and contract like tongs.
A collection of more than 30 pieces of Pilkington’s Lancastrian lustre from the contents of Kirkton House, a Regency manse near Montrose, excelled when offered at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh on October 10. The sale included this George and the Dragon charger with a Walter Crane design that fetched a record £32,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).
On October 30, Fellows sold this Omega Speedmaster ref 2998-1 for £69,000 (plus 23/15% buyer’s premium).
The ref 2998-1, produced from 1959-62, was the first Speedy to come exclusively with the black bezel. This watch was admired for its chocolate brown dial – a feature often replaced over time. The dial colour is simply a result of ageing but – as most Rolex and Omega ‘tropical’ dials were replaced under warranty or during servicing – the untouched original is the rarity.
Among the most desirable of all needlework samplers are those associated with pupils of the orphanages, asylums and charity schools of the Georgian and Victorian eras. Measuring just 4½ x 5½in (11.5 x 14cm), the diminutive needlework offered by Tayler & Fletcher of Bourton-on-the-Water on October 18 was worked with a repeating verse Die To Live Forever with the words Cheltenham Female Orphan Asylum to the border. Estimated at just £30-50, it sold at £14,000 (plus 18% buyer’s premium) to a UK private collector.
The ‘Armada Table’, dubbed one of the most important pieces of 16th century furniture in Ireland, made €360,000 (£327,000) (plus 20% buyer’s premium) at Adam’s sale at Townley Hall, near Drogheda on October 15.
Estimated at €100,000-200,000, the table was created from wood and sculptural elements from a Spanish Armada galleon shipwrecked off Ireland’s west coast 430 years ago. It sold to a phone bidder and will stay in Ireland.