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This China Trade portrait above attributed to Lam Qua (1801-60) is one of a pair that comes to sale at Special Auction Services of Newbury on January 7. The two 23 x 18in (58 x 44cm) half-length oils of ladies in traditional costume, one holding a child, were last sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong back in 1973. At SAS the estimate is £3000-5000.

The sale will be the first at the firm’s new premises in Plenty Close, off Hambridge Road, Newbury.


This fine-quality calibrated silver steelyard c.1780 in an original shaped green-stained shagreen case, above, was made by John Joseph Merlin (1735-1803) – the Belgian engineer and inventor behind the silver swan automaton in the Bowes Museum and owner of Merlin’s Mechanical Museum.

His portrait, painted by Gainsborough in 1781, hangs in Kenwood House, depicting him with coin steelyard in hand. Estimated at £2000, the balance (one of only of a handful of examples known in silver) forms part of a large collection of scales and balances to be offered on January 8 by Sworders in Stansted Mountfitchet.

The 271 lots were assembled by John Barnett, who joined The International Society of Antique Scale Collectors in 1995.