Three porcelain scent bottles from the Starr collection sold in New York (l to r): a 3in (7.5cm) high bottle modelled as cupid with a rose bush, Chelsea c.1760 – $3800 (£2970); a St James’s or Chelsea bottle c.1755, 3in (8cm) high modelled as a female hurdy gurdy player – $4800 (£3750); and a Chelsea gold-mounted bottle modelled as a youth catching birds c.1755, 3½in (9cm) – $7500 (£5860).

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The Starr collection included a number of examples of figural bottles variously catalogued as either Chelsea or from Charles Gouyn’s St James’s factory, pieces favoured by Lydia Fischer Starr and collected in the late 1990s and mid 2000s.

Pictured top is a sample of three.

The ceramics from a New York collector in Stair Galleries’ November 26-27 sale also attracted strong bidding for three group lots of scent bottles that had been offered with modest three-figure estimates and ended up selling for four-figure sums.


Five scent bottles sold for $7000 (£5470) at Stair Galleries.

Pictured above is one of the lots – a group of five catalogued as two Chelsea bottles, (one modelled as a double-stopped figure with a leopard, the other a shepherd inscribed J’en Joue pour Vous); a Meissen double bottle modelled as a monk smuggling a woman in a sheaf of wheat and two bottles catalogued as English porcelain, one also modelled as a monk smuggling a woman in a wheatsheaf, the other as a seated female. The lot sold for $7000 (£5470) against a $600-800 guide.


Meissen porcelain scent bottle from Sotheby’s sale of the Arnhold collection, sold for $42,000 (£32,812).

A high-flying Meissen porcelain scent bottle also featured in Sotheby’s sale of the Arnhold collection. This 4½in (13.5cm) gilt-mounted bottle from c.1725, decorated with chinoiserie scenes in the manner of Johann Gregorius Höroldt, excited plenty of bidding on the sale day and ended up making $42,000 (£32,812), far in excess of its $7000-10,000 guide.

“It had a lot of things going for it,” said Sotheby’s Christina Prescott-Walker, who singled out the quality of the painting and its earlier provenance (it had previously been part of the Rudolf Just Collection sold by Sotheby’s Olympia in 2001).