Micro-mosaic depicting the Tivoli cascade – £9000 at Canterbury Auction Galleries.

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Firstly, a single consignment of three ‘Grand Tour’ marble micro-mosaics brought in to a Friday valuation day drew international bidding in the room, on the phone and online. All three went to different Italian buyers way above modest expectations at the June 11 sale.

Best was the 2 x 3in (5 x 7.5cm) panel depicting Cascade di Tivoli, near Rome. Estimated at £700-1000, it sold at £9000.

A similarly sized panel depicting The Roman Forum, Rome, like the first in a silver metal inner frame and rosewood outer frame with a brass hanging ring, took a triple-estimate £2800.

Biggest surprise of the day was a 1in (2.4cm) diameter circular mosaic of an antique vase included in a mixed lot. Pitched at £80-120, it sold at £6000.

Steam engine pioneer


1878 Paris Exposition gold medal – £6000.

English practicality was represented by three exhibition gold medals awarded to Wiltshire engineer John Fowler (1826-64) who pioneered the use of steam engines to plough and dig drainage channels.

They were also brought in to a valuation day and lived up to expectations. First up was 2¼in (5.5cm) diameter Royal Agricultural Society of England patron’s gold prize medal designed in 1840 by William Wyonn but presented to Fowler in 1863.

It sold mid-estimate to a Hungerford buyer who also took an 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle gold prize medal, designed by Francois Joseph Hubert showing a laureate bust of Napoleon III and inscribed to J. Fowler & Cie, which went within estimate at £1900.

The best of the three was a 2½in (6.8cm) diameter medal awarded to Fowler’s firm by the Exposition in 1878. Designed by JC Chaplain, it featured a laureate bust symbolic of France and, to the reverse, a figure of Victory flying above the Exposition grounds.

Inscribed Fowler John et Cie, it went to a buyer in Japan, long an important market for British and European coins and medals, at a mid-estimate £6000.