According to data from thesaleroom.com, the following 10 items sold at auction for more than 100 times their top estimate as bidders spotted their real potential or speculated on a possible discovery.
Typically, UK provincial auction houses would account for just three or four such ‘mega sleepers’ a month so March proved exceptional.
A collection of gouache miniatures catalogued as Indian School 19th-20th century and estimated at £250-350 was hammered down at £50,000 (25% buyer’s premium) at a Woolley & Wallis picture sale in Salisbury on March 6. The stand-out item was an Indian goddess blessing a union.
This violin was offered at Reeman Dansie, Colchester, on March 12 with an estimate of £40-60. With an internal label reading Antonius Pelizon Fecit Garitiae 1837 for Antonio Pelizon (c.1763-1850) of Gabria/Gorizia, it sold to an online bidder at £7800 (plus 20% buyer’s premium).
A collection of late Qing and Republican period Chinese coins including a number of silver Hong Kong dollars was estimated at £50-£80 at Bourne End Auction Rooms on March 6. The hammer came down to a bidder using thesaleroom.com at £13,000 (plus 15% buyer’s premium).
Catalogued simply as ‘mid-20th century school’ and estimated at £30-40, this 17 x 22in (44 x 54cm) oil on board still-life sold to an online bidder at £4550 at Franklin Browns in Edinburgh on March 16 (plus 15% buyer’s premium). Both the style and the signature Chen suggest a connection with the Western-trained Singapore artist Georgette Chen (1907-92).
A Chinese blue and white bowl
Estimated at just £20-30, a Chinese blue and white bowl with a Chenghua (1464-87) reign mark sold to an online bidder for £8500 (plus 18% buyer’s premium) at Shouler & Son of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, on March 21. The 6in (15cm) diameter bowl, with a substantial hairline crack, had been turned down during a house clearance by a better-known firm. It was thought to be a Kangxi (1661-1725) copy of a Ming palace bowl.
A Marklin locomotive
A Marklin HO gauge T 700B locomotive with box was offered at the Rogers Jones auction in Cardiff on March 2 with a guide of just £40-70. The model was in a collection of Marklin which came from a local private collector.
After it sold to a bidder using thesaleroom.com for £8000 (plus 18% buyer’s premium), it was suggested it was a rare brass prototype possibly made in the immediate pre-war era 1937-38.
An Italian school drawing
This red chalk on laid paper drawing was catalogued simply as ‘Head of a young man, Italian School c.1600’ and estimated at £250-350 at Chiswick Auctions on March 20.
Hammered down at a speculative £58,000, the artist’s hand remains unknown but there is consensus among the dealing community that the 12 x 8in (30 x 20.5cm) portrait is the work of an Italian late Renaissance Mannerist artist.
A follower of Jacopo da Pontormo (1494-1557) or Parmese artist Parmigianino (1503-40) is a possibility.
A box of linen
A box of linen and clothing, including an Arts & Crafts table cover with hunting scene, was offered at Anderson & Garland of Newcastle with an estimate of £50-80. Bidders were keen on one object within the box and the hammer fell at £8500 (plus 20% buyer’s premium) on March 6.
Estimated at just £40-60, these two finely worked early 19th century samplers sold to a bidder using thesaleroom.com for £6200 (plus 24% buyer’s premium) at Philip Serrell, Malvern, on March 7. Key to their appeal is that they are a true pair created by siblings: one is named Mary Ann Rollings aged 14 years 1806, the other Christian Rollings aged 10 years 1806.
A baluster vase
Catalogued as 19th century and estimated at £100-£150 but sold to an online bidder at £16,000 (plus buyer’s premium), this 17in (43cm) baluster vase sold by Wright Marshall in Knutsford on March 27 belongs to a group of Kangxi (1661-1722) mark and period wares with a mixed palate of blue, copper red and celadon ‘carved’ decoration. Condition issues included a crack to the base and the probability that the rim had been ground.