The Byne Ladies originally belonged to Isabella Byne (1745-97), a reverend’s daughter from Northumberland who married into the wealthy Carr family at the age of 13 in 1758. It is probable that the dolls, variously dating from around 1760 to the 1780s, were purchased for her three daughters: Isabella (b.1760), Annabella (b.1763) and Harriet (b.1771).
They have passed by descent, residing in the Capel- Cure family home, Blake Hall in Bobbingworth, Essex, since the late 19th century.
Two dolls, with expectations of around £10,000, took £26,000 (plus 21% buyer’s premium) apiece.
The earliest c.1760, was perhaps the most unusual, including details such as carved ears, a face turned a little to the right and slight cleavage. She wore an eau de nil silk robe ‘à la Française’ with a full complement of silk and linen petticoats and quilted undergarments.
Missing legs and fingers but originally around 18in (45cm) high, it was sold with an original note from Frederica Capel-Cure dated February 18, 1867, in which she leaves the trio of dolls to her nephew.
The smallest doll at 13in (33cm high) wore a formal evening dress and a high-piled wool wig decorated with pearls, flowers and silk ribbons. She was in outstanding condition. A third doll, the largest at 2ft (61cm) high but the less well-preserved of the three, sold at £5000.
The collection – including three items relating to Isabella Byne’s wedding trousseau and a pair of Georgian dolls’ dancing slippers – will remain together after all were sold to a private collector in the room for a total of £63,500.
Blake Hall, requisitioned as an RAF base, was bombed by the Luftwaffe in September 1940, causing damage to one wing of the property. Proceeds from the sale of the dolls will be put towards the long overdue restoration.