A quality offering including a collection of 18th century drinking glasses plus the input of international bidders benefiting from cheap sterling produced what auctioneer Charles Hanson described as ‘our strongest fine art sale for five years’.
The auction at Hansons (25% buyer’s premium) Etwall rooms on October 14-17 attracted bidders from Vietnam, China, Australia, Germany, the US and the Netherlands as well as the UK and Ireland. “Its success showed global demand for antiques has never been higher”, said Hanson. “In tough economic times tangible assets are an attractive investment.”
The major focus was on the 60 lots of glassware from a single Stourbridge collection.
Many of the drinking glasses were well-chosen examples with good condition on their side.
A c.1765 cider glass engraved with apples and leaves on an opaque twist stem doubled mid-expectations, selling to the UK trade at £4800 (pictured top), while £4400 was bid for an engraved blue and white colour twist stem wine glass of a similar date.
A typical glass from the Beilby enamelling workshop in Newcastle upon Tyne came in the form of an opaque twist wine or cordial painted with swags of leaves and flowers.
In excellent condition apart from wear to the rim gilding, it sold to the UK trade above estimate at £3200.
Soaring beyond hopes was a late 17th or early 18th century glass with a diamond-point engraved scene of violinist and dancing lady. Probably by renowned Nuremberg engraver Herman Schinger (1640-83), it was guided at £300-350 but the winning Amsterdam bidder had to go to £3200.
To Dr Thomas and ML Solon
Best of the ceramics was a late 19th century, 9in (23cm) diameter Minton pâte-sur-pâte blue, black and gilded plate depicting Justice. It was inscribed to verso To Dr Thomas and ML Solon.
As the leading exponent of the pâte-sur-pâte technique who moved from Sèvres to Minton in 1870, Marc Louis Solon scarcely needs an introduction. Dr Henry Thomas, however, a Llandudno homeopath who was Solon’s sometime doctor, is less well known.
The plate was offered together with a framed 4in (10cm) diameter plaque by Solon depicting his doctor friend in profile that was presented to him in 1884, along with three letters. It sold to a UK collector for £5000.
Top of the overseas lots came, predictably, from China: a 3ft 6in x 3ft 2in (1.07m x 97cm) imperial yellow silk panel featuring two dragons chasing the cosmic pearl.
Swapped in Shimla by the vendor’s great-grandfather, an Indian Army officer, for his dress sword, it took £10,000 from a London bidder.
Another far-travelled star in the 640-lot, £270,000 sale was a South Pacific, probably Solomon Islands, paddle or club.
The haft of the 3ft 10in (1.17m) long paddle featured intricately chip-carved decoration while the shoulder and leaf-shaped blade carried later scrimshaw carvings of a sailing ship and a female bust along with a doggerel verse recording that in 1830 one William Murray had picked up the paddle ‘in a conoa at vavooa’.
It sold within estimate to a Derbyshire collector against French interest at £3100.