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This early 19th century gold snuff box pictured above was reputedly given as a gift by Tsar Alexander I of Russia.

The recipient was the French mineralogist Abbé Rene-Just Haüy, regarded as the founder of the science of crystallography through his discovery of the geometrical law of crystallisation.

Incidentally, his brother Valentin Haüy founded the Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, which was attended by Louis Braille in 1819.

The box has blue enamel decoration and is engraved with L’Empereur Alexandre A L’Abbé Haüy. It is estimated at £3000-5000 in Stroud Auctions’ sale in Gloucestershire on December 6-8.

Peter Francis’ online-only Fine Wines, Spirits & Cigars sale will include a scarce bottle of Royal Welsh Whisky.

Made in c.1900 from the Welsh Whisky Distillery, it bears a label stating that the distillery supplied whisky to the Queen and the Prince of Wales, and is distilled with the greatest possible care from malt only and is absolutely pure.

This bottle carries an estimate of £2000-3000 in the sale which concludes on December 11.

A mysterious ‘automatic drawing’ of human heads and a blue lizard by the Edwardian occultist and painter Austin Osman Spare (1886-1956) will feature in Roseberys’ sale in London on December 6-7.

The signed 7 x 9½in (18 x 24cm) pencil and coloured crayon drawing dates to 1945, and is typical of the sketches Spare was producing while living in poverty during the Second World War.

Spare started experimenting with automatic drawing in 1900 – two decades before the Surrealists in Paris – using the technique as a means to bypass the conscious mind and unlock the art of the subconscious.

Estimate £2000-3000. or see this item on

A watercolour and pencil work by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe (1901-79) has been consigned to Rogers Jones’ Welsh Sale on December 2 in Cardiff.

The signed 2ft 5in x 19in (74 x 49cm) study of a grey heron had been in the ownership of the artist’s neighbour for at least 30 years before it was inherited by the vendor.

The Cheshire-born artist moved to a house on the estuary of the Afon Cefni on Anglesey in 1947, where he lived until his death in 1979.

Estimate £1500-2500. or see this item on