1. Johann Marti Levien table – £12,000
The occasional table shown above is made in totara knot and hinan woods – a clue to its exotic origins. A label to the underside reads: ‘This wood imported from Wellington, New Zealand and manufactured GDM Levene, New Zealand House, New Broad St, London’.
Born in Prussia where he took his cabinet-making apprenticeship, Johann Marti Levien (1811-71) is today best known for his associations with New Zealand where he worked for a number of years in the early 1840s and later used to supply exotic timbers to his London workshop. His clients included Queen Victoria, from whom he received a royal appointment, and Baron Rothschild, who requested an entire room made of totara and hinau.
This table, estimated at £1500-2000 but sold to a buyer via thesaleroom.com at £12,000, dates from around 1845. It formed part of a showpiece sale conducted by Dreweatts from Donnington Priory saleroom this week: the private collection of the architect Sir William Whitfield (1920-2019).
The 570 lots, sold across two days on March 10-11, came to Newbury from St Helen Hall in County Durham, the Palladian house that Whitfield purchased in 1967 and restored and furnished with high quality objects over 40 years.
2. Tiger textile – £7400
This large Regency silk and woolwork picture was among the most popular lots in the single-owner sale conducted by Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood in Exeter on March 10. Bursting with naive charm, the 72 x 82cm textile worked with a tiger walking with head lowered across a landscape, was estimated at a modest £800-1200 but sold for £7400.
The 481-lot sale comprised furniture and works of art displayed by Roderick and Valentine Butler at their home, Marwood House in Honiton. Roderick joined his father Noel in the family antiques business at Marwood in 1957 and met Valentine when she came to work for the Butlers as a restorer in 1969.
The bulk of items bought and sold by the firm – and those the Butlers chose to keep – were acquired in the West Country, testimony to the huge range of goods that was readily available in the pre-internet days.
The Butlers are not moving home and the family antiques business will continue from the showrooms adjacent to the house.
3. Ottoman governor’s portrait miniature – £1900
As inscribed to the back in Turkish, the subject of this 19th century oval miniature portrait on porcelain is the Ottoman field marshal and governor Omar Pasha Latas (1806-71). It was probably painted shortly after the Crimean War where victories at Silistra and Eupatoria brought him great popularity.
He still has many admirers today.
Measuring 9 x 7cm in a gilt metal frame, it came for sale at Wokingham Auctions in Berkshire on March 7 with hopes of £80-160 but found a buyer at £1900.
4. Duleep Singh’s hawking bell – £5500
Objects with a close personal connection to Duleep Singh (1838-93), the last maharaja of the Sikh Empire who was exiled to Britain at the age of 15, carry a particular resonance in the Sikh community.
This white metal hawking bell is inscribed HH Prince Duleep Singh, Mulgrave Castle, Whitby, Yorkshire, £2 reward. Mulgrave is where Duleep Singh lived from 1858 until 1862 with this bell perhaps belonging to one of the pet hawks he brought with him.
It came for sale at Evesham saleroom Kingham & Orme on March 5 with an estimate of £80-120 but sold for £5500.
5. Howard & Sons three-piece suite – £16,000
This three-seat sofa and pair of armchairs that came for sale at Morphets in Harrogate may look a little tired but they carry a series of marks identifying them as by the most desirable name in upholstered furniture – Howard & Sons of London.
The firm established in 1820 by John Howard is known for its exceptional quality upholstered furniture that won awards at multiple international exhibitions and earned the patronage of exclusive clients throughout the 19th and early 20th century. Most of their work is marked – in this case with stamps to the brass casters, paper labels to wood bearers and original initialled ticking.
Very much to current fashion, this lot was also unusual as a matching set.
Estimated at £2000 at the auction on March 5, it made a very punchy £16,000.