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There always seems to be some elements from one of the many branches of this famous family of banker/collectors on the market somewhere. These pieces had all come from the English branch of the family, having belonged to the 3rd Lord Rothschild, the late Nathaniel Mayer Victor, who died in 1990. He inherited them from his grandfather Nathaniel, who lived at 148 Piccadilly and at Tring Park, Hertfordshire.

Although the collection was reasonably well received, in that all bar nine lots sold, not all the entries flew away and the final total of £1.14m, compared pretty closely with the pre-sale predictions of in excess of £1m. The top lot of the day, for example, was the 7in (18cm) high parcel-gilt silver figure of King David by Christoph Lencker, c.1610, pictured here, which came in at the low end of its £250,000-350,000 estimate.

Christoph and his brother Johannes came from the distinguished family of Augsburg goldsmiths who were the leading practitioners in the city when it was at the height of its fame, working in the late Mannerist style and renowned for their technical virtuosity. Only around a dozen pieces by Christoph are known, all of them in institutions except this newly-discovered figure of David, although last June Christie’s sold a silver-gilt ewer by his brother Johannes, which had been restituted to the heirs of Fritz Gutmann in 2002, for £950,000.

Like most of the main Rothschild pieces, the David figure was acquired by a private purchaser. It was a private collector, too, who carried off the collection of Rothschild neoclassical cameos and intaglios. These had been catalogued as 59 different lots to be offered first individually, but, as a result of pressure to keep the collection intact, were then to be re-offered as one lot with a reserve based on the aggregate of their individually realised ‘prices’. The successful purchaser was prepared to top that aggregate at £135,000 to secure the entire group.

The sale also included 17 lots of gem-set jewellery, a mix of Renaissance period and Renaissance-style pieces. A revival of interest in the field of Renaissance works of art prompted a great deal of this material to be manufactured in the 19th century and, although not all the goldsmiths and jewellers who created it were necessarily intending to deceive, it does seem that by the time it entered the holdings of wealthy, keen collecting families like the Rothschilds and the Wernhers, such pieces may well have been purchased by their new owners as period pieces. Sotheby’s dated only four of the pieces as of, or possibly of, the Renaissance period, the rest were firmly set in the 19th century and in some cases the auctioneers had even been able to identify from moulds or drawings the revivalist jeweller who had designed them.

Thirteen of these lots found buyers in the sale and the remaining four went privately afterwards. Top price of £20,000 was paid for this enamelled gold, emerald-mounted dragon brooch, described as Spanish, possibly late 16th century. It was followed at £19,000 by a 5in (13cm) high 19th century gold casket with pierced scrollwork enamelled and set with gems in the style of the 17th century.