Launching mallet and silver casket from RMS Empress of Ireland, £10,000 at McTear’s.

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The historic maritime lot was guided at £10,000-15,000 in the Fine Furniture & Works of Art auction on July 20 and took its low estimate.

Commissioned by Canadian Pacific Steamships for transatlantic crossings, the Empress was built at Govan Shipyards by the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company and launched in 1906.

Tragically, on May 29, 1914 – only two years after the sinking of the Titanic – the Empress went down in the St Lawrence River following a collision with the Norwegian collier SS Storstad.

The disaster claimed the lives of 1012 passengers and crew members, making it the worst peacetime marine disaster in Canadian history.

'Outstanding' values

The carved, turned and inscribed ivory launching mallet and Edwardian silver casket by Robert Stewart (Glasgow 1906) was gifted at the time to the wife of Sir Alexander Gracie, a member of the Fairfield board of directors. They come by family descent.

The mallet is one of a relatively small number of solid ivory items that have come to auction in the UK since the Ivory Act was implemented in 2022.

It had been granted an exemption on the grounds of ‘outstanding artistic, historical or cultural value’.