1. Portable Microscope
This rare brass simple microscope is signed to a silvered tablet for the instrument maker George Lindsay, numbered 16 and dated 1742. Made to a patent filed that year for a 'Portable Microscope', an identical example bearing the serial number 22 and complete with all the accessories is illustrated G. Turner’s book The Great Age of the Microscope 1989. Although lacking accessories and box, this example, long in local private ownership, sold for £8000 (plus buyer’s premium) at Mellors & Kirk, Nottingham, November 29. The winning bid, arriving via thesaleroom.com, was way over the £800-1200 estimate.
2. Japanese style sword
Swords made in the Japanese style were popular in Siam (Thailand) during the 17th-19th centuries and often served as diplomatic gifts. A similar sword to this splendid example, worked in niello and silver gilt, was presented to President James Buchanan by King Mongkut of Siam in 1861.
This sword, with a silver scabbard and mounts in imitation of a Japanese kurikata and kashezuno, dated from the 19th century. It prompted an extraordinary bidding contest at arms and armour specialist Thomas del Mar in west London on December 5 where, estimated at £700-900, it sold via thesaleroom.com for £42,000 (plus buyer’s premium).
3. Renaissance revival ewer
This large 19th century Italian faience ewer decorated with arcaded scenes and modelled with grotesques in the Renaissance revival taste is an exhibition quality piece. Standing an impressive 2ft 3in (67cm) high, it took €9500 (plus buyer’s premium) at Paris auctioneer Estim Nation on November 29 selling to buyer via thesaleroom.com way above the €300-400 estimate.
4. Cameo glass scent bottle
Although once dubbed the ‘crystal king of England’ the Victorian output of Thomas Webb & Sons is perhaps best remembered for its cameo glass. As interest in classical Greek and Roman glassworking methods surged, the ancient process of etching and carving through layers of opaque white and coloured glass was studied, revived and then perfected at the Dennis glassworks. This 9in (23cm) scent bottle or flask, of torpedo form, sold via thesaleroom.com for £8000 (plus buyer’s premium) at Gorringe’s of Lewes on December 4 is an outstanding example. A layer of milky white glass has been cut away - via acid-etching and hand carving on a wheel - to give a design of a dragonfly, butterflies, a moth, beetles and a bee. Like most of these bottles it is fitted with screw-top silver mounts by Birmingham makers Sampson Mordan & Co with the hallmark for 1887 giving an accurate date.
5. Vodka drinking figure
Among the most popular ranges made by the Gardner Porcelain Factory in Verbilki, near Moscow during the early to mid-19th century was a series of figures of ordinary Russians including peasants and street characters. As the Russian Empire swelled in size, these ethnographic figures – and a similar ‘Peoples of Russia’ series made by the Imperial Porcelain Factory – served as a visual reminder of its far-reaching power. Since the days of break-up of the Soviet Union, Russian porcelain collecting has experienced a great revival. This 8in (19cm) high figure of a man pouring vodka sold for an unexpected £7400 (plus buyer’s premium) at Bentley’s in Cranbrook, Kent on December 1. The buyer, using thesaleroom.com, went way over the £150-200 estimate.