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The ensemble had been put together relatively recently, over a 10-year period up to around 2014, aided by specialist dealer Alison Davey of AD Antiques and at major auctions such as Rago itself, Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury and Skinner in Boston.

But with a change in direction of interest towards animal welfare projects, Furer had decided to sell his collection, hence the Rago auction.

Of the 27 lots offered on September 21, all bar six found buyers, although prices did not always keep up with what they had cost when purchased.

Several factors probably account for this. Furer – a relatively big player in this field – had done much of his acquiring at the height of the market and was returning it back relatively quickly, within the past five years in many cases. This was also virtually all one category: Martinware birds.

A further factor, felt Davey, was the weakness of sterling against the dollar which deterred British buyers.

Topping the list was the 16½in (42cm) high single bird signed and dated 11-1899 to the head and base. A purchase from Woolley & Wallis in June 214 at £40,000, in this Rago sale it realised $50,000 (£40,000).

Two other birds also purchased from the same W&W auction followed at $48,000 (£30,400) apiece. One was a 14in (35.5cm) bird incised Martin Bros London + Southall 9 – 1898 to the head and base that had cost £75,000 in 2014, the other a 14in (35.5cm) bird marked R W Martin + Bros London + Southall 2 1899 to the head and Martin Bros London + Southall 2 1899 to the base which had cost £70,000.

Some pieces did not show the same dip in price levels. A 12½in (32cm) high bird inscribed R W Martin + Bros London + Southall 9-1911 had formerly been part of the famous Harriman Judd collection sold at auction in 2001. Purchased by Furer from AD Antiques in 2013 for £30,000, it made a hammer price this time around at Rago of $40,000 (£32,000).


While virtually all the pieces in the Rago auction were Wally birds there were a handful of exceptions. One was this double sided face jug incised 1-1900 R W Martin + Bros London + Southall which realised $6500 (£5200) at Rago Auctions.