A c.1820 Viennese sewing and multifunction box – £6520 at Bleasdales.

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In a specialist sale dominated by boxes the stand-out lot at Warwick-based Bleasdales(20% all-inclusive buyer’s premium) November 23 timed online auction was a Viennese walnut and paper-decorated example.

Dated 1802, the 9in (23cm) box was used for sewing, games, toilette and writing, although its fine condition suggested its primary function was to be admired.

It featured three secret drawers, a comprehensive sewing kit with ivory thimble, miniature playing cards, mirror, miniature rouge box and brush, toothbrush and a small pocketknife with tortoiseshell guards.

The box was guided at £500-1000 but, after competition between an avid Australian collector and a rival from London, it sold to the latter at £6520.

Distinguished collection

This piece came from a ‘distinguished collection’, one of four major private sources including the published authority on Tunbridgeware, Dr Brian Austen.


Tunbridegware sewing table – £1020 at Bleasdales.

His entries, the first tranche of four to be offered by Bleasdales, were led by a work from Tunbridgeware’s pioneering Burrows dynasty, a rosewood sewing table labelled twice H. Burrows Manufacturer Tunbridge Wells, although made by family member William.

The 2ft 8in (81cm) high table was held back a little by some restoration but sold to a London collector against the UK trade a shade over top estimate at £1020.

Resting rabbit


Sewing companion in form of Brighton Pavilion – £2280 at Bleasdales.

Tunbridgeware has become a feature of these bi-annual sales. There were 260 lots of the souvenir woodwares in the 920-lot, £140,000 sale.

Among them was a rare early c.1820, painted and decorated whitewood sewing companion in the form of Brighton Pavilion. The 3½in (9cm) diameter, 8in (20.5cm) tall piece unscrewed at the base and dome to reveal a complete sewing kit including the original pin cushion. It sold a UK dealer against a collector just below top hopes at £2280.


Silver seated rabbit pin cushion – £1320 at Bleasdales.

Sewing items pure and simple were led by a silver pin cushion in the form of a rabbit at rest.

By Adie and Lovekin, Birmingham 1908, the 2¼in (6cm) long cushion pitched at £150-250 was an impressive Christmas present for the buyer’s mother-in-law, selling at £1320.


Bimini buttons – £1180 at Bleasdales.

Appealing to another closely related collecting passion was a lot comprising 52 Bimini and Bimini-related glass buttons. Bimini always raises the possibility that the buttons were designed by Lucie Rie who worked at the factory during the War. In July 2018 at Bleasdales 43 of her own buttons sold at £3800.

No links to the great ceramicist in this year’s offering, but Bimini is collectable in its own right and, against a £100-200 estimate, these sold at £1180.