Charles Vyse figure – £3000 at Canterbury Auction Galleries.

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Charles Vyse (1882-1971), a protégé of Henry Doulton who served an apprenticeship in Burslem, is today best known for the wares made at the studio he and his wife, Nell, set up in Chelsea.

It was at Cheyne Walk in 1919 that the couple first produced the popular slip-cast figures of everyday street scenes that was the firm’s stock in trade.

Twelve of these figures were offered on April 9-10 at Canterbury Auctions Galleries (25% buyer’s premium) by the family of a Kent collector.

They included several rarities made in the late 1930s shortly before the studio was destroyed in the Blitz.

Best of these was a 12in (30cm) tall In Petticoat Lane or The Pedestrian Bazaar introduced in 1938. Modelled as an Arab selling scarves and shawls out of a suitcase, it was incised Vyse, Chelsea. In good original condition apart from fine overall crazing, it doubled the top estimate in selling to a UK collector at £3000.

Going to the same collector was an 11in (30cm) tall, 1936 group The Dancing Gypsies – a man playing a squeezebox and a colourfully clad woman holding her skirt as she danced.

It had a firing crack to the side of the base and minuscule glaze chips to the woman’s hat along with overall crazing but general condition was good and original and, against a £1000-1500 estimate, it made £2300.

Both figures had been bought at West Sussex auction house Toovey’s in 2016 where they made £3300 and £1600 respectively.

London clocks


James Clowes longcase – £12,000 at Canterbury Auction Galleries.

Another area of interest that gripped the same Canterbury collector was London clocks, most notably a mid- 18th century bell-topped walnut table clock by William Poulton.

In excellent, original condition the 17¾in (45cm) tall case had only some slight cracking to the veneers while its eight-day, two-train movement, now with anchor escapement and later pendulum, striking on seven bells, was in full working order having been fully restored some years ago.

Pitched at £4000-6000, it sold to a local private buyer at £9000.

The top clock, however, consigned by another vendor, was a late 17th or early 18th century marquetry longcase by James Clowes of London, a member of the Clockmakers’ Company from 1671-1705.

The 6ft 5in (1.97m) tall walnut and ebonised case had some historic restoration, mostly to the base, and lacked a pediment to the rising hood which three distinct holes indicated was once there.

The eight-day, two-train, five-pillar movement striking on a bell had been restrung recently and the mechanism seemed intact and functioning correctly.

All in all, as the catalogue said, ‘an honest example that may have seen some refreshment over the years’.

Estimated at £4000-6000, it sold to a private buyer at £12,000, top price of the day and pipping a Chinese star to the spot.

This was a six-character mark and period Kangxi blue and white porcelain bowl painted with lotus flowers. The 6½in (16.5cm) bowl, in good condition with no obvious restoration, more than doubled the top estimate, selling to a UK-based buyer at £11,500.