1. Mahatma Gandhi handwritten note – £5600
A handwritten note by Mahatma Gandhi sold for £5600 (estimate £800-1000) at Mullocks of Church Stretton, Shropshire. The winning bid came via thesaleroom.com.
Inscribed 'I want world sympathy in this battle of Right against might, signed MK [Mohandas Karamchand] Gandhi and dated 27.9.31, the note came for sale from the family of former councillor and mayor of Darwin William 'Bill' Knowles. Gandhi signed it for him during his famous visit to Darwin where he met cotton workers in 1931. The auction took place on February 23.
2. Early 1850s chess set – £2250
By the early decades of the 19th century it was clear that the ancient and cosmopolitan game of chess would require pieces of standardised size and shape as it entered the era of international competition.
And it was one Nathaniel Cook, editor of the Illustrated London News, who on March 1, 1849, registered the distinctive design that would achieve that aim.
Cook's Ornamental Design for a set of Chess Men was daring in its relative simplicity and utility (its trademark pieces the knight carved as a stallion's head from the Elgin marbles and the bishop with a diagonal cut to indicate a mitre) and it was quickly embraced by both a Hatton Garden purveyor of fine games and the era's leading player.
The combination of John Jaques, keen to embrace a design that could be produced at relatively low cost, and the endorsement of the product by the English chess master Howard Staunton (1810-1874), proved unstoppable.
According to adverts in the Illustrated London News dated September 8, 1849, the first Jaques Staunton pattern sets were available in "the finest African ivory (5 guineas), boxwood and ebony (£1/15 shillings or club size (£2/5 shillings) and Wedgwood's Carrara (£2/12/6 shillings)".
All sorts of minutiae are involved in the dating of these early issues (size, signatures, weights, materials, construction, box types etc). The form of the knights and the 9cm high king mark the rosewood and boxwood set that emerged at Adam Partridge in Macclesfield on February 21 as a rare tournament size set from the early 1850s. One of the black pawns was associated and there were condition issues to a number of pieces but bidding via thesaleroom.com reached £2250 against an estimate of just £60-100.
3. Chinese ‘champion’ vase – £7500
Chinese ‘champion’ vases, derived from archaic bronze vessels, take the form of two cups united by an eagle (ying) standing on a bear (xiong). Together the two words create the auspicious rebus champion.
They became particularly popular in the Qing period and an important part of marriage rituals, with the two compartments of the vase symbolising the union between bride and groom. This 4in (10cm) example, considered 19th century, sold via thesaleroom.com for an unexpected €8200/£7500 (estimate €100-200) at Uccle, Belgium auctioneer Haynault on February 25.
4. Suffragette archive – £15,000
On February 27 at Farleigh Court Golf Club, Selsdon in Surrey, Catherine Southon offered a collection of ephemera relating to Isabel Seymour, a secretary for the Women’s Social Political Union (WSPU).
The archive, contained within a large scrapbook, included resolutions signed both by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, a handwritten draft for a Votes for Women speech delivered at a rally in Inverness, propaganda pamphlets and even printed paper hankies portraying the suffragettes on hunger strike in Holloway Prison.
It was found by the owner in a garage about 30 years ago.
“This previously unseen personal archive gives an insightful look into the day-to-day administration of the WSPU as well as a valuable historic insight into both the Suffragette movement, its members and its administrative workings,” said Southon.
Seymour was hospitality secretary to the movement, arranging accommodation for visiting Suffragettes so they could attend events in London. Later, she organised bail for those who had been arrested. After some years in Canada she returned to England and went on to become a county councillor in Hampshire.
Estimated at £3000-5000, it generated plenty of bidding before selling via thesaleroom.com at £15,000.
5. Singapore artist’s abstract painting – £15,500
This abstract oil, thought to be by the Singapore modernist Cheong Soo Pieng (1917-83), sold for an unexpected £15,500 at Etwall, Derbyshire. The estimate was £300-500.
Signed and dated 1961, the 20in x 2ft (50 x 60cm) canvas post-dates the period when Cheong was exhibiting in England.
The winning bid at the auction on February 22 came via thesaleroom.com.
6. London Transport ticket machine – £8500
This London Transport Gibson ‘long ticket’ machine, serial no 5886, is thought to be the only survivor in original condition. Other examples of this once common model were converted and renumbered in 1956 but this one retains fares ranging from 1d to 1/- and the original 'A' & 'B' values.
It also has its original box and a number of spare ticket rolls and is in working order. It came for sale at Transport Auctions in Croydon on February 23 from the estate of the last superintendent of London Transport’s Ticket Works.
Estimated at £2500-3000, it sold to an online bidder via thesaleroom.com at £8500.