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Several featured among the auction’s best-sellers, including pencil drawings by Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914). These were offered as two lots, each comprising a trio of framed signed and monogrammed drawings for his illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.

They had a provenance to the philanthropist and socialite Bronson Winthrop, passing down by descent to the vendor, his great-great-niece.

The first featured drawings from Alice through the Looking Glass, titled Transformation!, Alice and Kitty and And It really was a Kitten After All which measured approximately 3¼ x 2¼in (8 x 6cm); 4½ x 3½in (11.5 x 9cm) and 3¼ x 2¼in (8 x 6cm).

These were offered at the auction on New Year’s Day together with a letter from Tenniel discussing one of the drawings featuring Alice in an armchair. Estimated at $25,000-40,000, the trio ended up selling for $60,000 (£44,445).

The following lot featured three illustrations to Alice in Wonderland. The left and right-hand drawings measuring 3¾x 4¼in (9.5 x 11cm) and 3¼ x 4¼in (8.25 x 11cm) depicted scenes from the poem You Are Old Father William. The centre drawing, 3¾ x3¼in (9.5 x 8.25cm), showed a fish dressed in livery delivering a large letter to a frog footman. These sold for $40,000 (£29,630), which was double the estimate.

A large 6ft 6in x 3ft 4in (2x 1m) oil on canvas by Scottish portrait artist James Guthrie (1859-1930) depicted Edward Martin dressed for fox hunting and was signed and dated centre right James Guthrie 1896. It came from the Park Avenue estate of Gloria Schiff, former editor of Vogue magazine, and sold for $15,000 (£11,110).

A much higher than predicted price was paid for a watercolour by Dutch artist Johann H Weissenbruch (1824-1903). The 13 x 20½in (33 x 52cm) landscape realised $24,000 (£17,780), well in excess of an $800-1200 guide.

The oil on canvas of Venice by Felix Ziem previewed in ATG No 2473 sold for $20,000 (£14,815).

Carpathia items salvaged

In Atlanta, Georgia, the three days of auction action at the Ahlers & Ogletree (21-25% buyer’s premium) from January 15-17 came from a varied, mixed-owner and mixed-discipline selection.

Opening events on the first day was a group of 94 lots that had been salvaged from the wreck of the RMS Carpathia, a British-built ship which famously rescued 705 survivors from the Titanic in 1912.

The Carparthia was herself sunk in 1918 after being torpedoed by a German submarine. These pieces were salvaged in an expedition in 2007 and offered with certificates of authenticity.

Among the items on offer were plates and various other tablewares, items of marine technical equipment and numerous pieces of coal (a Cunard liner would use 1050 tons of coal per day on average).

Among the lots which outstripped their estimates most dramatically were a brass/bronze framed glass porthole marked 89 with part of the wooden substructure attached which went for $13,000 (£9630) against a $700-900 guide; a deck light with a glass globe marked Diswan to the socket which made $12,000 (£8890) against a $300-500 estimate and a marine chronometer made by the London firm of Dobbie Son & Hutton sold at $9500 (£7040) against a $300-500 guide.

Following the Carpathia consignment were around 100 lots from the Jack Warner (and Warner Foundation) estate.

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Horses and a goat eating turnips by Charles Frederick Herring – $50,000 (£37,040) at Ahlers & Ogletree.

The top price in this section was a circular painting by John Frederick Herring (1795-1865), a specialist in the equestrian genre.

The 2ft 8in (81cm) diameter signed and dated oil on canvas from 1848 depicted horses and a goat eating turnips and had been acquired from the 1970s auction of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge at Sotheby’s. It was guided at $90,000-120,000 but ended up selling below that level at $50,000 (£37,040).

The 1000+ lot mixed-owner selection that followed on January 16-17 produced the top price of the auction.

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5. Cinnabar lacquer box – $65,000 (£48,150) at Ahlers & Ogletree.

A Chinese rectangular lidded cinnabar lacquer box attracted eager bidding that took it far above its $8000-12,000 guide. The box measured 11¾ x 13 x 9½in (30 x 33 x 24cm) and was carved in relief with sinuous dragons. Dated to the Ming dynasty, it had a character mark to a pearl which a dragon was chasing on the lid.

The hammer finally fell at $65,000 (£48,150) to a bidder in China.

£1 = $1.35