Byron DeWitt Miller (1875-1960) had the ultimate retailing career: He was the errand boy from Portland, Maine, who became the president of Woolworths.
Miller’s big break had come in 1908 when he was chosen by Frank W Woolworth to launch the firm’s first transatlantic stores.
Between 1909-20 he oversaw the opening of more than 80 Woolworth stores across the UK. His first in 1912 were in Brixton (which he considered to be the British equivalent of Brooklyn, New York), and in Bristol (which he compared to Atlantic City, New Jersey). He became the third president of the company in 1930.
Like many industrialists of the pre-war era, Miller was an ardent collector of American, European and Oriental works of art.
Items from the family collection were sold by The Benefit Shop Foundation (24% buyer’s premium), a charity that holds regular fund-raising auctions, as part of a September 27 Red Carpet Auction.
A trio of exceptional Tiffany ‘paperweight’ vases flew past expectations.
It was under the aegis of Louis Comfort Tiffany that the Tiffany Studios began exhibiting ‘paperweight’ objects alongside other elements of the Favrile glass range around 1900. Using the hot glass, caning and encasement techniques mastered in 19th century France, in the first two decades of the new century Tiffany’s artists pushed the medium further to create new effects.
A series of ‘paperweight’ botanical vases that appeared to trap flowers and water within the glass became the signature product.
The three vases here, all signed, numbered and retaining original paper labels to the base, represented a good cross-section of the paperweight medium.
And, with estimates in the hundreds, they attracted more than 100 admirers each on the LiveAuctioneers platform.
Ultimately all three sold to internet bidders at the sort of five-figure sums similar pieces have fetched at showpiece sales in Manhattan.
The largest at 8in (20.5cm) high was worked with a design of stylised poppies (pictured top). It hammered for $16,000 (£13,200) against an estimate of $200-500.
Sold at $11,000 (£9050) against a similar guide was a 12.5cm (5in) squat form vase with marbled botanical leaf and vine decoration while a particularly sophisticated vase with red and marbled green tomato vine decoration raced away to bring $21,000 (£17,300).
A fourth Tiffany Favrile glass vase demonstrated a different (but again scarce) form of decoration of the type popularised by the glassmakers of Nancy, France.
This 8in (20.5cm) cameo vase in a dark red and yellow opaque glass carved as a floral bloom sold at $4000 (£3300).