Best of the furniture was an early 18th century Italian tortoiseshell, ebony and coromandel architectural cabinet. The 2ft (61.5cm) high cabinet with gilt-metal mounts was fitted with drawers about a central portico drawer and various concealed drawers to the interior and the sides were inlaid with brass geometric lines and satinwood husks.
Together with its 3ft 11in (1.2m) wide, 19th century carved mahogany stand, it was estimated at £6000-8000 and sold at £15,000 to a private buyer active across the sale – “a strong whiff of a city bonus which saw off all the trade interest,” said auctioneer Nic Saintey.
A Chinese collector living on the Continent was another active contributor to the success of the January 21-22 Exeter sale at which 83% of the 894 lots got away to a £425,000 hammer total.
Among his estimate-eclipsing buys were a 16in (40cm) diameter Kangxi charger and a Republican Period porcelain panel.
The charger, painted with carp among lotus blossoms and, to the reverse, with four Buddhist emblems, carried the six-character mark within a double circle. A restored section and crack to the rim kept the estimate down to £800-1200 but it sold at £15,500.
The 14 x 10in (35.5 x 25cm) panel decorated in famille verte enamels with figures in a lakeside landscape bore a circular iron red seal, Puye-ting zhi hua, and was inscribed verso Liuyin chuidiao (‘Fishing with a rod in the shade of willow trees’).
It took £7200 against an estimate of £150-200.
The Russian element was an imperial silver and enamel charka bearing the maker’s mark for Ivan Khlebnikov, Moscow, 1882. Decorated with flowerheads and foliage, the vodka drinking vessel, 3½in (9cm) wide with its oval flat handle, bore the crowned initials OB.
Offered with a 2¼in (6cm) diameter imperial silver and enamel salt, with the maker’s mark for CK, Moscow, and a rubbed date letter, possibly 1893, it was estimated at £200-400. Competition between overseas bidders and a West Country collector ended in victory for the latter at £3200.
Also staying in Devon was an early-18th century, 8¼in (21cm) diameter Bristol blue and white delftware electioneering plate.
Inscribed Rolls for Ever, it referred to a powerful landowning family in Devon who, before the 19th century Reform Acts, chose the MPs for several of the county’s constituencies. The Exeter offering could have referred to John Rolls, who defeated three optimistic candidates in 1722, or to his son Henry, who stood for Barnstaple, unopposed, in 1741.
The charger had minor chips and glaze losses to the rim but with such strong local appeal it doubled the top estimate to sell at £2400.