Guy Schwinge has seen the market highs and low over his 35 years in the business and, even taking into account the resolutely upbeat attitude of most auctioneers (as opposed to the downbeat default mode of some buyers), his post-sale verdict will cheer the market.
It was backed up by two lots in particular at the February 22-23 sale at Duke’s (22% buyer’s premium) of Dorchester, where Schwinge is a partner.
First up was the George II breakfront bookcase. Standing 8ft 1in (2.46m) high, it was a fine example of its kind but the sort of bulky mahogany item which was among the hardest hit areas of the brown furniture slump.
Accordingly, the consignment from a Kensington house to the Dorset rooms was estimated at £3000-5000. It triggered a battle between a local private buyer in the room, a London dealer and a leading art consultant bidding for a client on the phones. It sold to the dealer at £18,500.
More was expected for the early George II, 7ft 11in (2.41m) tall giltwood mirror catalogued as in the manner of Thomas Johnson and having ‘elements of the carving which may be compared to comparable pieces by Thomas Chippendale and John Linnell’.
It was originally in the collection of Edward Cecil Guinness, First Earl of Iveagh at Farmleigh, Castleknock, Co Dublin. Although some bidders had reservations about its condition, “the illustrious provenance and the sheer scale of the mirror outweighed such concerns”, said Schwinge.
Certainly it did to the extent that it made the lower end of its £20,000-25,000 estimate, selling to an ‘anonymous international buyer’ on thesaleroom.com.