Examples of cartes de visite from a £1200 lot at Cuttlestones.

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The recurrence of the fashion which swept the Western world in the Victorian and Edwardian eras was triggered by a consignment of more than 3000 cartes de visite.

Named because these albumen prints were about the size of calling cards, they were produced in a cheap technique pioneered separately by two French photographers: Louis Dodero in 1851 and André Disdéri in 1854.

It was Disdéri’s creation of a set of cards depicting Napoleon III in 1859 that first ignited the craze for collecting and swapping cards depicting celebrities of the day.

Today they still have value. Offered in 20 lots at the June 30 Staffordshire sale they all sold, attracting collectors across England and, against a cumulative estimate of £850-1160, bringing a total of nearly £8700.

Best-seller was a group of 340 including world views and people from a veiled Peruvian woman to nannies in Regent’s Park. Estimated at £50-80, they sold at £1200.

Tribal tussle


Oceanic hardwood club – £1800 at Cuttlestones.

Top price of the day reflected a more recent surge of interest in a specialistic subject: tribal art.

Battles between a Home Counties buyer and an Australian underbidder took a briefly catalogued entry of mainly Aboriginal tribal clubs, spears and a fly whisk to £5500 (estimate £100-200) and a 2ft 4in (71cm) long hardwood South Seas club decorated with etched detail to a 10-times-estimate £1800.

The Australian won the third contest, however, bidding £1300 online for an Oceanic fighting club.


Tinworth Doulton Lambeth mouse group – £3800 at Cuttlestones.

The idiosyncratic work of Doulton Lambeth potter George Tinworth (1843-1913) featuring anthropomorphic small animals has a strong following in the US and an American bought a version of his well-known c.1886 group, The Cockneys At Brighton.

The 3½in (9cm) high group of a family of mice in a rowing boat signed with a monogram to the base was estimated at £1000-2000 and sold at £3800.