The Order of Merit of Marahaja Ranjit Singh contains a portrait of Ranjit, the first Sikh maharaja of the Punjab (1801-39), who introduced European-style presentation and service medals to his court.
This 2in (4.5cm) diameter example on a later pearl rope was dated c.1830 and is similar to an emerald-set example in the V&A. Estimated at £5000-7000, it sold at £24,000 at the auction on October 22.
In a highly selective market, only the best quality or keenly priced items got away. A 5in (13cm) 3600-year-old Egyptian blue faience hippopotamus figurine sold at the lower end of a £15,000-20,000 estimate.
Dated to the Middle Kingdom or Second Intermediate Period, it shares similarities with other figurines found in international museums including William, the famous faience hippo that serves as the Met’s informal mascot. The piece was first recorded in the Adda family collection formed in the 1920s-30s, and here was part of a consignment of nearly 100 lots from ‘the property of a lady.’
Medieval Iran was a rich area for bidders, including a c.1220 Kashan pottery bowl. The 6½in (17cm) diameter bowl on a short foot, painted in blue, black and white under a transparent glaze, was decorated with a radial design of stripes and flowers and featured Persian pseudo inscriptions. It sold at £4400, ten times the mid-estimate.
The biggest surprise of the day, however, was a 2¾in (7cm) agate cup catalogued as Roman-style but 20th century.
Pitched at £100-150, it aroused a clamour of interest from China and finally sold at £14,000. In Chinese culture agate symbolises longevity and is believed to elevate the mood and boost confidence.