1. Tiffany tiger orchid brooch – £36,000
This gold, enamel and diamond tiger orchid brooch offered by Haynault in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Belgiumon June 15 was made by Tiffany c.1890.
A series of 24 very similar orchid brooches were designed by George Paulding Farnham (1859-1927) for exhibition at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. The Paris Herald commented: “It is simply marvellous, the stamens being only the thinness of a hair, yet having two colours in enamel, while even the smallest part of the flower is reproduced”.
In addition to impeccable workmanship, these brooches are remarkable for their botanical accuracy. Farnham would have had access to the Tiffany library which contained an impressive collection of illustrated botanical journals, as well as an array of dried and pressed botanical specimens.
With only a slight chip to the enamel to count against it, the hammer price, bid via thesaleroom.com, was €41,000 (£36,000), close to four times the estimate.
2. ‘Champion vase’ – £31,000
The term ‘champion vase’ appears in Western writings in reference to vessels such as this, popular during the middle and late 18th century, that have two narrow vertical compartments connected by a mythical bird and a stylised bear.
The name is a loose translation of yingxiong bei, or hero's cup that combines the words for bird (ying) and bear (xiong).
They were made manufactured in different media, including jade, rhinoceros horn, gilt bronze and cloisonné enamel as in this 13in (32cm) example offered by Anderson & Garland in Newcastle upon Tyne on June 18. It had a four-character Qianlong mark but was not thought to be of the period.
Estimated at £5000-8000, it sold to an online bidder at £31,000.
3. Sycamore oval settling bowl – £1600
This handsome 19th century sycamore oval settling bowl was much admired for its considerable 2ft (60cm) size, a pleasing sculptural form and its excellent wear and patination.
It came for sale from Clynog farmhouse in North Wales and was offered at Trevanion & Dean, Whitchurch, Shropshire on June 15.
The hammer price, bid via thesaleroom.com, was £1600 (estimate £50-80).
4. Emigrate to New Zealand poster – £1500
Pictured here is one of two posters issued by issued by the High Commissioner for New Zealand, London, c.1912 sold for a surprise multi-estimate sum at Brown & Turner, Jedburgh on June 15. The hammer price, bid via thesaleroom.com, was £1500 (estimate £30-50).
At the time around 1m lived in New Zealand in 1907 but cities such as Auckland and Wellington were growing rapidly as the government bought large tracts of land from the Māori and large estate holders for subdivision by small farmers.
The 2ft x 17in (59cm x 44cm) posters affixed to a card backing promote New Zealand as ‘The Ideal Country for the Farmer’ and a place that ‘Wants Domestic Servants’. The fare from London or Liverpool was £2.16s.0d.
5. Chinese ‘official's hat’ chairs – £63,000
This pair of Chinese huanghuali armchairs are of a type often called ‘official's hat’ chairs or guanmaoyi. The form is associated with the Ming period but was much copied in later eras.
This pair, pitched at SFr2500-5000 at the Asian art sale at Dogny Auction in Lausanne, Switzerland on June 18, were sold to an online bidder at SFr80,000 (£63,000).
6. George Chinnery drawing – £4300
The English painter George Chinnery (1774-1852) spent most of his life in Asia, especially India and southern China. This 18cm x 11cm pencil and ink sketch of Chinese locals in traditional dress provided a surprise at Reeman Dansie of Colchester on June 18 when it sold to an online bidder at £4300 (estimate £150-250).
In addition to the subject matter, a key to its appeal may lie in the inscription to the reverse reading ‘A Study for a Picture in the National Gallery of Ireland’ and a pedigree indicated by a Victorian label for the venerable dealership Thos. Agnew & Sons.