Displayed by Hamilton’s nephew George Grenville, 2nd Earl of Warwick, in a bespoke Gothic revival greenhouse on the lawn at Warwick Castle, its rich ornament and Mannerist style had great appeal to the early 19th century eye in particular. The earl had denied permission to copy the vase until, at the special request of Lord Lonsdale, moulds were made by William Theed for the royal goldsmith Rundell, Bridge & Rundell.
Lonsdale did not follow through with his grandiose intention to have a full-size replica cast in silver but the project was the first of many that would replicate the famous vase in precious metal, porcelain, bronze and later in iron and concrete.
The vase was represented by no fewer than three silver works at the Fieldings (20% buyer’s premium) sale in Stourbridge on December 7. They all went above estimates, bringing prices in line with size and dates.
Topping the trio was a wine cooler with conforming liner by Paul Storr, London 1814. Storr had joined Rundell, Bridge & Rundell in 1807 and this 255oz behemoth, measuring 11in (28cm) high and 16½in (42cm) across the handles was engraved to the square base Rundell Bridge Et Rundell Aurifices Regis Et Principis Wallae Regent. Britannia.
It was estimated at £8000-12,000 and sold to the London trade at £28,000.
Vase in miniature
The other two, both going to UK bidders, were by Edward Barnard & Sons. One (London 1902) was a 62oz, 8in (20cm) tall study pitched at £3000-4000 which sold at £5900.
Smallest and latest of the three was a miniature version of the same study marked for London 1934. Standing 3¼in (8.5cm) tall and weighing 11.5oz, it was consigned by the grandson of the land agent for Warwick Castle itself where the original vase remained until it was offered for sale in 1978. (A deal was agreed with the New York Metropolitan Museum but, after an export licence was refused, it was bought for the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.)
In the Stourbridge auction this miniature was estimated at £150-250 but sold at £900.