1. Delft caudle cup – £13,000
The sale at Ramsay Cornish in Edinburgh on December 7 included this very rare 5in (12cm) London delft caudle cup. A textbook survivor from the mid 17th century, it gains enormously from the addition of the motto Be Merry and Wise and the date 1650.
It had been entered for sale alongside some routine silver as an afterthought by a vendor who had inherited it from his uncle. Despite its obvious imperfections, the piece had no substantial missing elements.
Estimated at just £200-300, it took £13,000 (plus 20% buyer’s premium) from the London trade.
2. Louis Vuitton Explorer – £30,500
Remarkably this rare late 19th century cabin trunk sold for £30,500 at Toovey’s in Washington, West Sussex on December 6 was the second to be sold in as many weeks.
Louis Vuitton Explorers are rare beasts. Made in zinc, copper, brass or aluminium, the flat-topped ‘malle cabine’ was designed to meet the requirements of intrepid travellers to tropical climes.
Easily stacked, the hardwearing, air-tight form was invaluable for keeping the contents free from water, insects and dust.
This example in zinc and brass had the paper manufacturer’s label inside, numbered 33525, with Vuitton’s Oxford Street address erased and changed to 454 Strand where the firm moved in 1888. It came for sale from a consignor who read Toovey’s blog on the sale of a similar trunk two years ago for £26,000. This example was estimated at £20,000-30,000.
Another Louis Vuitton Explorer, this one with a similar label numbered 44685, had been offered at Thimbleby & Shorland in Reading on November 23 where it was hammered down at £27,000.
3. Early watercolours of New Zealand – £3500
Born in Plymouth, John Skinner Prout (1805-76) may have been just another decent Victorian watercolourist had he not chosen to emigrate to Sydney in 1840. Accompanied by his wife, their eight children and a lithographic press, he pursued a career in the Australia colonies as a professional artist and printer. He worked for four years in Sydney and then in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) before returning to England in 1848.
In the 1850s – when it is thought he possibly returned to the Southern hemisphere – he produced illustrated handbooks and gave lectures detailing his travels in Australia. He was been described by Australian art historian Bernard Smith in European Vision in the South Pacific 1768-1850 as “the first itinerant painter in the colonies whose work ceases to be dominated by the requirements of topographical accuracy”.
The two small watercolours signed for Skinner Prout and dated 1850 offered for sale by Cuttlestones in Wolverhampton on December 6 were thought to depict New Zealand subjects. Both were described as such to the mounts.
While there is no record of Skinner Prout visiting the southwestern Pacific, it may be that the small topographical scenes, one 17 x 11cm, the other 7 x 11cm), shed light on his travels after his return to England.
Worthy of further research, the two finely worked sketches were estimated at just £100-150 but found a buyer via thesaleroom.com at £3500.
4. Hans Coper 'Cycladic' vessel – £23,000
Peter Dingley (1923-2018), whose gallery in Stratford-upon-Avon ran from 1966-91, is a name synonymous with British studio pottery. Although Dingley did not consider himself a ‘collector’, he acquired many good pieces that were sold to benefit two charities for living potters and artists by Oxford auction house Mallams on December 5.
Estimated at £10,000-15,000, this 6in (15cm) Hans Coper (1920-81) stoneware 'Cycladic' vessel sold for £23,000 via thesaleroom.com.
The 55-lot Dingley collection was led by another Coper vessel from the same (early 1970s) period. A slightly larger ‘sack’ for vessel with a disc rim estimated at £15,000-25,000 took £34,000.
5. Silver candlesticks – £16,355
This impressive and rare pair of silver table candlesticks with cluster columns, square bases and drip cups, had no visible hallmarks but are probably Dutch and late 17th century in date.
Much admired at Carlo Bonte in Bruges on December 6 the pair, standing just under 12in (30cm) high, sold for €19,400 (£16,355) against an estimate of €2000-4000.