1. Catherine the Great seal
Charles Brown (1749-95) and his brother William were gem-workers, both exhibiting at the Royal Academy. From 1786-95 they received numerous commissions from the court of Catherine II, Empress of Russia.
Approximately two hundred cameos and intaglios remain in the Hermitage, St Petersburg. The seal pictured here, on offer at Ilkley saleroom Hartleys on December 7, is one of two sold directly to Catherine. Hartleys says ‘an outside expert has suggested that this may be the original stone and the one in the Hermitage was the second to be carved’.
It is a cornelian oval seal, intaglio carved with George Stubbs’ (1724-1806) famous work Horse Frightened by a Lion (1770), and is signed in the stone C. Brown F. In a gold scroll mount with plain frame, 4 x 3cm overall, it has been owned by a private family for at least four generations – but found by a valuer ‘in a biscuit tin with assorted bits and bobs, so mucky you could hardly tell what it was’.
2. Constable drawing
John Constable’s drawing of a tree overhanging a stream near East Bergholt, Suffolk, comes for sale at Halls of Shrewsbury on December 7 with an estimate of £8000-12,000.
Dated April 20, 1821, this was the same day he wrote a detailed letter to his wife Maria in Hampstead describing the countryside of East Bergholt, his impression of some hot cross buns purchased in London and a visit to the local squire, Edward Godfrey.
The tree study, measuring just 4½ x 3½in (12 x 9cm), was once in the Constable collection of Dr HAC Gregory and formed part of both the Wildenstein Constable centenary exhibition in 1937 and the Arts Council exhibition of the artist’s works in 1949. It was inherited from a collector who bought it at London dealers Agnew’s in 1979.
3. Cedric Morris cat drawing
This silverpoint Study of a Cat by Cedric Morris (1889-1982) signed and dated 1924 was gifted to the vendor by the artist.
It is estimated at £800-1200 at the sale of Modern Art & Design at Mallams Oxford on December 7.
4. Martin Brothers character jug
The Design Since 1860 sale at Roseberys London on December 7 includes a RW Martin & Brothers double-sided character jug that comes with some remarkable documentation.
The 6in (15cm) jug, dated 1903, comes for sale by descent from Australian George Swinburne who purchased it directly from the studio at Southall in 1914 through his agent, Rev WG Beardmore.
Alongside two early 20th century Martin Bros brochures is a letter from Beardmore to dated June 26, 1914 in which he laments recent changes at the Martin studio and the recent closure of its Holborn shop.
He writes: “They are very unworldly and unpractical men in relation to business. Moreover, two of the brothers are now dead. One died very suddenly; and unfortunately with him died some of the most important secrets of the production. The eldest one (Wallace) is fairly well but getting old. He is the one who makes the face jugs. But I fear they will never again do work equal to that of the former days.”
5. Alan Ball’s 1966 medal
The 1966 World Cup winner’s medal won by England’s Alan Ball comes under the hammer at Tennants in North Yorkshire on December 9 with a guide of £80,000-120,000.
Also on offer will be cup final No 7 shirt (estimate £30,000-50,000), and his 1966 World Cup cap (guide £15,000-25,000).
Ball sold his medal and cap at auction in 2005, when they were purchased by the owner of Bolton Wanderers, businessman and philanthropist Edwin ‘Eddie’ Davies (1946-2018).
Lancashire-born midfielder Ball was the youngest and least experienced member of the 1966 World Cup-winning team at just 21 years old. However, he received widespread acclaim for his energetic and passionate performance that was fundamental to the 4-2 win over West Germany victory.
As well as playing as a midfielder for clubs such as Blackpool and Everton and winning 72 caps for England, Ball went on to manage several clubs including Manchester City and Southampton.