Bird’s-eye maple sewing box by Robert Russell – £3420 at Bleasdales.

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His long client list of Victorian aristocrats, headed by the Duchess of Kent, agreed and today admirers vie for examples from his fairly small workshop (fl.1849-73?), such as the bird’s-eye maple sewing box shown here, when they come to market.

The 10½ x 8½in (27.5 x 21.5cm) box led Bleasdales(20% buyer’s premium inc VAT) June 15 specialist timed online sale of all things needle-related.

Pitched at £500-1000, it sold to a UK dealer at £3420.

For Cleopatra’s needle?


Rare Tunbridgeware rosewood sewing box c.1820-30 – £3040 at Bleasdales.

The rare Tunbridgeware rosewood sewing box also pictured came close behind at the Heathcote, Warwick, auction.

Each face of the 9in (23cm) tall pyramid – dated 1820-30 and reflecting the ‘Egyptian Revival’ movement – is hinged, revealing the fitted interior.

It doubled the mid-estimate, selling at £3040 to a retired UK antiquarian book dealer.

Best of the many needle and thimble lots at the 960- lot sale, which enjoyed a 93% selling rate, was a rare Charles II silver cylindrical case. Decorated with flowers and strapwork, the 3½in (9cm) case went a shade above estimate at £1040 to a US specialist dealer.

Tunbridgeware table


Tunbridgeware table – £4800 at Golding Young & Mawer.

Victorian Tunbridgeware on a bigger scale came in the form of a tip-top table offered at Golding Young & Mawer’s (24% buyer’s premium) Lincoln auction on June 15-16.

With a 21½in (55cm) diameter top inlaid with birds and leaves, within leaf mosaic border, on an ebonised ground, it was rated at around £2000 by the valuer.

The tempting £600-800 estimate was at the vendor’s request and it sold in the room to a collector at £4800.