Eighty per cent of the 1081 lots got away to a total of £592,000 at the January 24-25 auction. It did include a single-owner collection of enamels but the traditional fields of silver and furniture provided some star lots.
Topping the day was a racing trophy: 124oz of silver by Paul Storr, London 1802, with a history which merited a 650-word catalogue monograph. The 18in (46.5cm) tall campana-form silver-gilt trophy was awarded to the winner of the fashionable 100-guinea race at Richmond.
The first annual trophy of this neoclassical form was designed by Robert Adam in 1757. A frieze is engraved with two galloping horses and another being fed outside a stable.
It had come to the vendors by the female line descendants of the winning owner and sold on its lower-estimate £20,000 to an Asian investor.
A bigger surprise among the silver was a George I (London 1717) strawberry dish estimated at £400-800 but sold at £3000 and destined for ‘a noble private collection’. Of the typical form, it measured 8¾in (22.5cm) across and was engraved with an armorial but with the maker’s mark rubbed.
Other silver successes to go above estimates included a pair of bellied-form wine coolers, probably by Robert Gainsford, Sheffield 1823, which sold to a collector at £6600, and a 222oz two-handled tray, possibly by William Elliot, London 1820, which went to the trade at £4300.
The furniture star was a 6ft 11in (2.11m) tall Italian ebonised and hardstone-mounted cabinet. It was a 17th century design, but while some thought it had 17th century elements, others believed it to be wholly 19th century.
Auctioneer Guy Schwinge did not print an estimate but was more than pleased when, against bids from the UK, the US and China, it sold to a Continental buyer via thesaleroom.com at £18,000.
On more familiar territory in terms of what they were, but surprising in what they fetched, were a George III Windsor chair and a Regency occasional table.
The 3ft 5in (1.04m) tall fruitwood and elm Thames Valley chair was, said Schwinge, a “stunning example” but pitched at a tempting £500-800. It raised considerable interest from the US before selling to a UK specialist dealer at £5200.
The rosewood and ormolu-mounted table was described as in the manner of leading London maker John McLean (1770-1825), but some thought that it could have been by the French émigré Louis Le Gaigneur who settled in London in 1815.
Little is known about Le Gaigneur’s life. However, writing tables by him are at Windsor Castle and in the Wallace Collection. Either way it was a quality piece and against a £400-700 estimate it sold to a UK private buyer at £3100.
Best of the glass at Dorchester was a 12in (31cm) tall lidded goblet with double-knop stem and dome foot and engraved with vines and classical scenes. The catalogue noted “we believe this to be 18th century” but by sale day it was classed as 17th century.
With five bidders competing on the phone the £200-400 estimate was quickly eclipsed and it sold to a Continental specialist in the room at £3600.
Schwinge’s favourite among the collectables was a George III pocket terrestrial and celestial globe ‘after Moll’ – the Dutch London engraver and publisher Herman Moll who made the first such globes c.1710.
The 2¾in (7cm) globe – made up of 12 hand-coloured engraved gores and two polar calottes, was in its original fishskin case and doubled the mid-estimate selling at £3800.
Enamels and rock crystal
Part of the larger sale, a single collection of 28 late 19th century enamels and rock crystal was, said auctioneer Guy Schwinge “the best I’ve seen in years”.
Bidders at the Dorchester saleroom concurred and against fairly strong estimates all bar three got away to a total of £36,300. Limoges enamels sold in three figures, outpaced by the elaborate pieces produced in Vienna around the turn.
This silver gilt and rock crystal bird-form box, applied with cabochon ‘jewelled’ silver gilt bands and featuring cartouches of Poseidon and Amphitrite and a mythical figure finial, the 11¾in (30cm) box sold at £4800.
A neo-classical style silver enamel and crystal-covered compote, 8in (20cm) high with a domed cover surmounted by a grape finial and on a cast stem modelled as Bacchus holding fish sold at £4000.