Miniature penknife

Exceptional 19th century gold mounted miniature penknife for royal presentation by Joseph Rodgers & Sons of Sheffield, £11,000 at Olympia Auctions.

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1. Miniature penknife – £11,000

It was with dazzling exhibition pieces like this that Joseph Rogers & Sons made its reputation as Sheffield’s foremost knife maker.

Made in the third quarter of the 19th century for royal presentation, it measures just 0.75in (1.9cm) but comprises over 48 folding blades and accessories with the fillets works in gold and mother-of-pearl. The 4.5in (11.5cm) ivory and gilt copper stand carved with neo-gothic foliage includes the letter A beneath a royal coronet suggesting that it was presented by the makers to one of Queen Victoria’s children: either Princess Alice (1843-78), Prince Alfred (1844-1900) or Prince Arthur (1850-1942).

Rodgers presented George IV with a minute specimen of cutlery with 57 blades, which occupied only 1in (2.5cm) when closed securing the firm its first Royal Warrant in 1822.

It came for sale at Olympia Auctions as part of Thomas Del Mar’s December 6 Antique Arms, Armour & Militaria auction as one of 16 lots from the second tranche of the David Hayden-Wright collection. It was pictured in Hayden-Wright’s book The Heritage of English Knives (2008) where it states that the knife was part of the celebrated displays at Joseph Rodgers & Sons showrooms at 9 Norfolk Street.

Estimated at £3500-5000, it was finally knocked down at £11,000.

2. Royal Doulton advertising figurine – £6500

Royal Doulton advertising figure

Sentinel, a rare Royal Doulton advertising figurine dated September 1921, £6500 at Hansons.

In the early years of the HN collection in the 1920s several companies commissioned Doulton figures to advertise their products. The best known of these are probably the Sketch Girl, created for Sketch magazine and the Beefeater holding a copy of The Illustrated London News.

A larger and rarer advertising figure is the 18in (44cm) high Sentinel based on the company logo of the Sentinel Waggon Works. The firm, once celebrated as a leading maker of steam wagons and railway locomotives, commissioned the figure in 1921 after recently opening an assembly plant at Shrewsbury, with a flow line based on the Model T Ford factory in Michigan.

Its trademark of a standing knight with the legend Every Watchful and On the Alert, was applied to its vehicles until the firm closed in the 1950s. Only a handful of these are known although one took £7000 at Potteries Auctions in 2015. Another that came for sale at Hansons in Etwall, Derbyshire on December 12 was not in perfect condition (it had restoration the base) but nonetheless brought £6500 (estimate £2000-3000).

None of the Doulton figures were assigned HN series numbers but carry typical backstamps and impressed dates, in this case September 1921.

3. Harry Clarke watercolour – €70,000

Harry Clarke watercolour

The Colloquy of Monos and Una (1923) by Harry Clarke, €70,000 (£60,300) at Adam’s.

The Colloquy of Monos and Una was one of a series of Art Deco-influenced watercolours created by Harry Clarke (1889-1931) for an expanded edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s collection of stories, Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

Clarke had provided some images to the London publisher George Harrap for a 1919 edition with black and white illustrations. However, the 1923 printing included many more illustrations including eight colour plates for which Clarke was paid a further £100 by Harrap.

The Colloquy of Monos and Una was conceived by Poe as a dialogue between two lovers reunited after death (when he wrote it his wife was suffering from the tuberculosis that would eventually kill her). Clarke chose to depict the protagonists floating together in the underworld in theatrical dress of the period.

In 1924, a year after the book was published, Harry Clarke sold several of the illustrations he created for Tales of Mystery and Imagination to the Crawford Art Gallery. However, this 16 x 12in (40 x 30cm) pencil, ink and watercolour was not among them and it recently became the best-contested work at Adam's Important Irish Art sale in Dublin on December 6. A detail was used on the front cover of the catalogue.

Coming by descent to the vendor from the barrister Albert Ernest Wood (1873-1941) who lived at Marino, Killiney, it was guided at €20,000-30,000 but sold at €70,000 (£60,300).

4. Andrew Grima watch – SFr50,000

Andrew Grima watch

An Andrew Grima watch from the Omega About Time collection, 1971, SFr50,000 (£45,600) at Piguet in Geneva.

At the peak of his fame in the 1969, the Anglo-Italian jewellery designer Andrew Grima was invited by Omega to create what would become the About Time collection. An archival photo c.1969 survives of Grima, pipe in mouth at his home in Sonning-on-Thames, designing watches for the collection that ultimately consisted of 55 different timepieces.

All display the ‘signature’ elements of the Grima style – the use of textured gold and unconventional stones – and featured the novel use of a gemstone as the watch ‘glass’. Launched in 1970 at Goldsmiths’ Hall in London, within days half the watches were sold out.

An exceptional example was offered by Piguet in Geneva on December 7 – a gold bracelet watch with a dial concealed below a faceted pale sapphire lens and a diamond surround. Sold well above hopes for SFr50,000 (£45,600), it was followed to the rostrum by a pair of matching Grima earrings and a ring sold for SFr7500 (£6800) each.

A number of watches from the About Time series have come to market in recent years. A single-owner collection of Grima jewels offered by Bonhams in September 2017 included both a Cerini watch set with a large oval-cut citrine ‘glass’ within a bezel of gold ‘matchsticks’ and baguette-cut diamonds and Greenland, a gold and pink tourmaline watch bangle. These sold for £28,000 and £36,000 respectively.

In 2016 Sworders in Essex sold a ‘Pinkerton’ bracelet watch, bought by the consignor at the Grima store in Jermyn Street in 1970, for £19,500. It included a tourmaline lens, baguette cut diamond highlights and an 18ct bracelet with a bark finish.

5. Civil War relics – £5000

A 19th century glazed wooden case containing musket balls, ceramic fragments, and three complete clay pipes carries a raised plaque that is inscribed: Civil War Relics from the siege of Newark 1645-1646 found at the site of the camp of troops of the Earl of Lincoln nr. Clay Lane Newark.

Measuring 2ft (60cm) across, it came for sale at TimeLine Auctions in Harwich Essex on December 5 where it was eagerly contested from its guide of £200-300 to £5000. It was part of an old collection of antiquities and relics collected by the Gilstrap family, who were wine merchants in Newark.

The Third Siege of Newark began on November 26, 1645. Charles I's army had been destroyed at the Battle of Naseby and Newark was one of the last Royalist towns capable of resisting a Roundhead army of 17,000 soldiers. The siege lasted six months of great hardship before surrender on May 8, 1646.