1747 Dutch East Indies Company brass bell – £15,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

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The VOC, the world’s first formally listed public company, established colonies and trading posts throughout Asia, expanding their reach to Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka) in 1640.

The city of Jaffanapatnam (today Jaffna) on the north-west coast had been established by the Portuguese as their colonial administrative centre, but was taken in 1658 after a three-month-siege.

This bell, offered at Lyon & Turnbull (25% buyer’s premium) in Edinburgh as part of the Five Centuries sale on February 5, probably hung in one of the trade warehouses or company buildings and would have been used to announce ship arrivals or for administrative proclamations. It was estimated at £800-1200 but attracted plenty of Dutch bidding before it sold at £15,000.

With a headline-catching Ottoman saddle and a 16th century maiolica drug jar demolishing estimates at £56,000 and £7000 respectively (see ATG No 2429), the rich storehouse of imported treasures in Scottish homes brought plenty of overseas bidders.

Armour impresses

Two German lacquered suits of armour made c.1880 in the 16th century style more than lived up to hopes, selling to an overseas phone bidder against a rival in the room at £19,000. Although purely decorative, both were well made with impressed decoration, one carrying a halberd, its companion a pike.

An early-20th century Tabriz carpet from the noted Benlian workshop in the north-west Persian city prompted a multi-phone bidding battle. Measuring 21ft 4in x 15ft (6.5 x 4.54m), the Shah Abbas-pattern carpet had some staining and moth damage but was in basically good condition. It went to a private UK buyer at a five-times-estimate £18,000.


One of four Scottish armorial hall stools – £12,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

The top-selling furniture lot was provenanced to Taymouth Castle, the 19th century seat the Campbells of Bread Albane built on the Perth & Kinross site of 16th century Baloch Castle. A set of four 17in (43cm) tall Scottish oak hall stools carved with the armorials of the Earls of Breadalbane was pitched at £3000- 5000 but sold to a UK phone bidder at £12,000.

A set of three similarly carved shield back oak hall chairs also from that source went comfortably above estimate at £3000.