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A collection of fire marks which were previously on display at the Chartered Insurance Institute in London goes under the hammer at Special Auction Services in Newbury on November 12. The proceeds from the collection of more than 800 marks will benefit an insurance industry charity.

The practice of placing a metal mark on a building to indicate insurance against fire started in earnest after the Great Fire of London. Each insurance company had its own fire service and its own distinctive logo. Early marks were made of lead with later examples, made until production largely stopped in the 1840s, typically fashioned in copper and tinned iron.

This collection has been described as one of the most important to come on the market since the early days of fire mark auctions and collecting in the 1930s.

Around 300 marks are British and the remainder from countries operating similar systems including the US, Russia and others in continental Europe and the Middle East. Estimates will range from £50-2000. Among the rarities is the Athenaeum, the only ceramic UK mark made between 1852-56.

It has a guide of £1000-1500.


The Semley auction on November 9 will include a private collection of 35 cricket cages and related items.

Great care was taken to perfect the shape and finish of these gourds so that the insect’s ‘singing’ would resonate well. The gourd shown above is of moulded octagonal baluster form, the eight panels variously carved with prunus, peonies, chrysanthemums and other flowers, while the tall ivory cover is carved with nine squirrels among fruiting grape vines.

Measuring 6½in (16.5cm) high, it carries an estimate of £3000-5000.

semleyauctioneers.com or see this item on thesaleroom.com

This 1960s 18ct gold, enamel, diamond and emerald lion brooch above is by Kutchinsky.

It measures 4.5 x 4.3cm and features in the Fine Jewellery sale at Fellows in Birmingham on November 14. The auction house is offering free shipping on all its watch, jewellery and designer sales until the end of the year.

Estimate £2500-3000.