A 2¼in (5.75cm) medieval walrus ivory tableman or backgammon piece, c.1150-80, sold at £40,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) to a Continental European dealer at Lawrences of Crewkerne on January 14. It belonged to a set of tablemen with scenes from Aesop’s Fables, with the carving here depicting 'The Fox and the Stork'.
The medieval walrus ivory tableman or backgammon piece, pictured above, dated from c.1150-80. It sold for £40,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) to a Continental European dealer at Lawrences of Crewkerne.
A house record was set at Adam Partridge in Macclesfield on February 22 when a marble bust of Alexander the Great soared above a £600-1000 estimate to bring £320,000 (plus 20% premium). The sculpture had once been part of the garden furnishings at Sutton Place, the Italianate Tudor mansion in Guildford owned in modern times by John Paul Getty and Stanley Seeger. The vendor was Seeger’s former personal assistant who had been given the bust after it was discovered during garden restoration in the 1980s.
The £120,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) highlight of Dreweatts’ auction of the Sir William Whitfield (1920-2019) collection was this monumental 13ft (4m) high Flemish historical tapestry. The scene depicts the Triumph of Mark Antony over the Parthians in 33BC. It was part of a group of tapestries based on the life of Mark Antony and Cleopatra thought to have been designed in 1621 by the Dutch Golden Age painter Karel van Mander the Younger (1579-1623). Others in the cycle are variously attributed to the workshops of Pieter de Cracht (in Gouda and Schoonhaven) and Jacques Nauwincx (Schoonhoven).
This Tiffany tiger orchid brooch sold to a buyer in France for £50,000 (plus 22% buyer’s premium) at Elstob & Estob in Ripon on April 18. Dating from c.1890, the gold, enamel and gemset brooch is similar to a group of 24 brooches that were part of Tiffany’s sensational display of hyper-realistic brooches and hair pieces at the 1889 Paris 'Exposition Universelle'. “It was really a case of a buyer sat at home surfing his computer during lockdown and finding something he had always wanted,” said auctioneer David Elstob.
An original set of bagpipes believed to have been recovered from the Somme battlefield sold to an Australian collector for £4600 (plus 18% buyer’s premium) at Ipswich saleroom Lockdales on May 13. They were believed to have belonged to Private William Alexander Scott of the Tyneside Scottish regiment (21st battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers), who was among the 20,000 British troops killed on the fateful First Day of the Somme. As with other the Scottish units, the soldiers of the Tyneside Scottish regiment were led into battle by the wail of bagpipes as they went over the top.
Key to the appeal of this relic from the early days of telecommunications is the wording to the case LM Ericsson Co. Stockholm. The phone was a model made only for the Swedish market. Patented in October 1895, it features the same magneto technology as the better-known Ericsson ‘skeleton’ (or Eiffel Tower), but in this case the mechanism is hidden inside a decorative metal case. Estimated at £60-80 at Wessex Auction Rooms in Chippenham on June 27, it sold for £10,500 (plus 17% buyer’s premium) and was bought by a collector via thesaleroom.com.
This 3in (7cm) square clay tablet, recording beer production in Sumerian city of Uruk in modern-day southern Iraq, dates from c.3100BC. It contains the name of the Sumerian scribe Kushim (the symbols to the top-left corner are the sounds for ‘Ku’ and ‘Sim’) that claim to be the first recorded personal name of any human in history. The tablet, sold at Bloomsbury Auctions on July 8 by Norwegian businessman and collector Martin Schøyen, doubled the low estimate to sell to a US collector at £140,000.
Salisbury saleroom Woolley & Wallis sold a bountiful crop of consignments from Exbury House, former New Forest home of Lionel de Rothschild, across the year. On August 11 this pair of Louis XVI white marble and gilt bronze mounted vases was knocked down at £95,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) to the French trade. Made in the final days of France’s Ancien Régime, c.1790, they were 18in (45cm) high copies of the famous Borghese vase, a massive Roman krater acquired by the Borghese family shortly after its rediscovery in 1566 and displayed in the Louvre since 1811.
The bedside cabinet by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928), the pair to another in the V&A, sold to a private British collector at £200,000 (plus 25% premium) at Lyon & Turnbull’s Decorative Arts: Design since 1860 auction on November 2-3. It was made c.1916 for 78 Derngate, Northampton, the home of Wenman Joseph Bassett Lowke (1877-1953), founder of the tinplate toymaker of the same name.
This rare novelty claret jug was consigned to the sale at Trevanion & Dean in Whitchurch, Shropshire, on December 5 by a private Cheshire vendor who had inherited it. Marked for Sampson Mordan, London 1882, it is modelled as Punch and Judy’s dog Toby, the head hinging open at the ruff and snout. Standing just over 9in (23cm) high and weighing 34oz, the estimate was £8000-12,000 but it sold at £30,000 (plus 24% buyer’s premium).