However, it was a late Victorian mahogany dining table that provided Derby auctioneer James Lewis with his most satisfying transaction.
The reason was not the piece (a good example stamped for Edwards & Roberts) nor indeed the price (a double-estimate £1400) but the buyers. It was bought by two newlyweds in their 20s who, currently furnishing their home throughout with antique pieces, enthused to Lewis about the table’s looks and price.
It provided at least one small piece of evidence – a wispy straw in a zephyr, perhaps – that a positive message is getting through to at least some of the new generation.
Furniture closed the October 14-18 sale with some decent results, albeit only among the better-quality pieces.
Some of the heat has gone out of the market for the mid-19th century marquetry furniture produced by Killarney craftsmen for upmarket tourists but it still finds buyers, as evidenced by two c.1850 hinge-topped tables featuring barber-pole stringing and inlaid ovals of Muckross Abbey. Both went back to Ireland.
One, a yew centre table with hinged rectangular top, 2ft 8in wide x 17in deep ((81 x 44cm) above a deep frieze, featured seven more local beauty spots and went above estimate at £3400. The other, an arbutus worktable with an adjustable cover on a ratchet, stood on a panelled column. Inlaid throughout with clover, it sold towards the top of the estimate at £2800.
Another piece of fine marquetry was one of Lewis’ favourite lots: a c.1820, 2ft 7in (79cm) tall, rosewood and brass marquetry teapoy (pictured top). The twin-handled caddy inlaid with stylised leaves, bell husks, and acorns enclosed three hinged removable canisters and an etched glass sugar bowl.
Like most of the sale, it was temptingly estimated at £400-600 but quality told. “The best I’ve seen in 40 years,” the Irish trade underbidder told the UK collector who bought it at £2400.
A 19th century mahogany extending dining table led the way – a radial extending model of the type made famous by Robert Jupe in the 1830s. This was a later model on four very Victorian turned supports but, expanding to 6ft 4in (1.92m) diameter that could seat eight, it was a commercial proposition nonetheless. It went to a local private buyer above estimate at £6500.
A Regency rosewood and brass marquetry bonheur du jour in the manner of John McLean doubled lower hopes at £4000 and a pair of 19th century mahogany Gainsborough armchairs went within estimate at £3000.
The niche field of needlework included both a William and Mary allegorical panel and a Renaissance appliqué embroidery.
The latter, probably made in Genoa c.1480-1500, was worked in wool and metal thread with a scene of an angel.
Housed in a later 2ft 3in (69cm) tall mount, it was in good condition having been conserved and cleaned at the V&A. Against a £300-500 estimate, it sold over the phone to a London bidder at £4800.
From c.1700, the English needlework worked in tent stitch measured 9 x 12½in (22 x 32cm) and depicted the figures of Justice, Time and Peace in an Edenesque landscape below a Biblical verse. It went to a collector at £1500, five times the estimate.
As reported in last week’s issue (ATG No 2518), there was plenty of bidding for a rare Chelsea Red Anchor figure emblematic of Touch, while among the silver strong competition developed for an 8½in (22cm) tall Gothic Revival diamond and sapphire-mounted Communion chalice.
Very much in the Pugin taste, it was marked for WFK Birmingham, probably for the Wellingborough goldsmith Walter Frank Knight (1885-1972). Knight’s ecclesiastical commissions included the 9ft (2.75m) gilt bronze cross and candlesticks on the High Altar at St Paul’s Cathedral dedicated in 1958 to the Commonwealth fallen of the two world wars.
Consigned from a church, the chalice tripled the mid-estimate when it went to another religious institution at £3800.
A George VI flatware service for 12 comprised 56oz of weighable silver but an extra attraction was its Art Deco burr walnut canteen table. It went to a local private buyer above estimate at £3300.
Sold at £2000 was a decent pair of cast table candlesticks, London 1774, at £2000, while a meat dish cover, London 1771, engraved with the arms of George III took £2800.