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All a far cry from Mr Capes’ initial foray into auctioneering when he hired a room over the Royal Exchange in 1826. The town was beginning to make its fortune from the textile mills and the auction business courted the bourgeoisie with weekly chattels and books sales. Capes Dunn established their reputation nationwide with the sale of a giltwood throne and other furnishings that had been commissioned for Queen Victoria’s visit to Manchester in 1851. But as auctioneer Michael Perry took the rostrum at this anniversary sale, and opened the bidding on an enormous canteen of silver cutlery for the owners of a grand Victorian house in Middleton, it was almost like the old days again.

The 233 pieces included the basic
implements – 24 table spoons, dessert spoons, dessert forks and teaspoons, 36 table forks and 48 bone handled and stainless steel knives – but the presence of a dozen oyster forks and the choice of sugar spoons – moist or sifting? – announced its protracted service at the high tables of formal hedonism during the late Victorian and Edwardian period.

Struck for the prestigious firm of Hunt and Roskell (successors to Storr and Mortimer as silversmiths to the Queen) mostly for 1881, and totalling an approximate weight of 350oz, the canteen was contested by the London trade to £17,000.

A 6ct circular cut diamond solitaire in a platinum ring brought £14,000 (bottom end of estimate) to lead out the jewellery, but it was a collection of Victorian jewellery from a Bolton estate which attracted widespread interest. A gold bangle with a half hoop of eleven diamonds graduating from a larger, centrally set stone, weighing approximately 3.5 carats and consigned in its original case, brought £2100, a gold barlink necklace hung with seven floral pendants inlaid with seed pearls and diamonds took £1450, while a gold brooch set with a heart-shaped moonstone in a surround of seed pearls sold at £700. Pearls were joined by turquoise for the other prominent jewellery – a Victorian 15 carat gold bracelet pave set with a domed central cluster of turquoise spheres and tiny pearls, circa 1879, which attracted £750 and an 18ct gold ring centred by a single turquoise, surrounded by 16 diamonds and 10 small pearls, sold at £380.

The morning session opened with an array of clocks and works of art, where a Nicole Frères cylinder musical box (no.2067) playing four overtures attracted the highest bid. The Geneva maker is a byword for quality manufacture, and despite woodworm and further damage to the rosewood case, this orchestral machine was sold to the Continental trade at £6200 against telephone underbidding.

Collectors' choice was a Regency satinwood and penwork tea caddy of sarcophagus form, 91/2in (24cm) wide, painted in colours with chinoiserie scenes of figures among flowers against a black lacquer ground. Rectangular painted caddies may not be as popular with collectors as the tortoiseshell and hardwood varieties in more unusual formats, but this example was helped by exquisite decoration and fine condition to a hammer price of £2700.

Capes Dunn, Manchester, May 22
Number of lots: 2192
Lots sold: n/a
Sale total: n/a
Buyer’s premium: 11.75 per cent