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The sardonyx cameo ring – £39,000 at Tennants of Leyburn.

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Key to the appeal of the 1in (2.5cm) ring offered by Tennants of Leyburn, North Yorkshire, on January 12 was the presence of the signature Marchant for Nathaniel Marchant (1739-1816), the noted English engraver of cameos, intaglios and medals. The subject was a classical female bust.

Commissioning a Marchant intaglio was expensive and subject to a waiting list. In 1792 he published the Catalogue of One Hundred Impressions from Gems engraved by Nathaniel Marchant – listing the various subjects in his oeuvre and the names of the social elite who commissioned them.

The successful buyer won their prize against an internet underbidder on thesaleroom.com

While Tennants’ price exceeded those paid for most Marchant gems, a Marchant carnelian intaglio ring of the Apollo Belvedere, estimated at £4000-6000, sold at £100,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) as part of a single-owner collection at Sotheby’s in 2018.

Many Marchant glyptics (like those of his tutor Edward Burch) are signed in mirror writing but this example uses conventional capital letters.