The auction calendar has been much changed by Covid 19 restrictions but with auction houses in England able to reopen premises to the public since June 15 a new normal is now emerging.
Auction houses that follow government guidance on matters such as hygiene and social distancing can welcome people in for viewings, valuations, consignments and collection. Some may also decide to allow a small number of bidders to be present in the room on auction day but it is likely that many will continue to hold live online only sales.
Check with the auction house to understand how its sales will be conducted as well as its latest terms for storage and delivery. Remember that different devolved nations within the UK may take a different approach with regard to when auction houses can reopen premises as well as the hygiene procedures they should be following.
When specialist Tim Harper from Kent saleroom C&T recently took a call for a valuation of some silver trophies that had been found when a property was cleared it turned out that they related to renowned early aviator Thomas Sopwith.
The example shown here was presented by the Aero Club of New York, engraved Bomb Dropping Contest Won by T.O.M.Sopwith at Nassau Boulevard Aerodrome. It was manufactured by Reed and Barton of Massachusetts (producer of the Oscar statuettes), is believed to be of silver gilt and measures 8½ x 7½in (22 x 19cm).
Sopwith won the award in July 1911, while flying his new Howard Wright Biplane – which he wrote off shortly afterwards. He was both an accomplished pilot and founder of the Sopwith Aviation Company at Brooklands in June 1912 at the age of 24.
In the July 8 auction the trophy is estimated at £1000-2000. Also pictured is a fine-quality silver aircraft model with the same guide.
The Summer Auction at Duke’s of Dorchester on June 25-26 includes a group of five famille rose enamelled glass snuff bottles with Qianlong (1735-96) marks that come from ‘the collection of a Swiss private jeweller’. They are deemed ‘probably of the period’.
This example, finely decorated with panels of quails, has a guide of £4000-6000. Much admired in China for their courage and fighting spirit, pairs of quail, shuang an, are a homophone for ‘peace and prosperity’.
The sale of entertainment memorabilia and guitars at Gardiner Houlgate in Corsham, near Bath, on June 25 includes several early James Bond posters.
This original 1965 Robert McGinnis-designed UK quad for Thunderball (with small losses and period tape repairs) has a guide of £1800-2200.
A three-day sale at Martel Maides in St Peter Port, Guernsey, on June 30-July 2 includes this Georgian 18ct yellow gold fancy guard chain, c.1820, with a clasp in the form set with a ruby and an emerald. It comes in its original fitted case with expectations of £6000-8000.
A timed auction of pictures ending on June 28, held by Milnthorpe, Cumbria, firm 1818 Auctioneers, includes this original Lake District pen and ink sketch by fell walker and guidebook author Alfred Wainwright (1907-91). Striding Edge, Hellvellyn, measuring 7 x 5in (17 x 12cm) is estimated at £400-600.
A large collection of New Hall porcelain is being sold by Elstob & Elstob in Ripon on June 27-28.
Comprising around 50 separate lots, from complete tea services to individual rarities, the pieces were acquired by the late Tony Allen from some of the UK’s top dealers.
One of the stand-out entries is a plate decorated with figures on horseback in a rural landscape by the celebrated ceramics painter Fidelle Duvivier, c.1787-90. Purchased from Charnwood Antiques, it carries an estimate of £2000-3000.
New Hall holds an important place in the history of English porcelain. Active between 1781-1835, it was a cooperative between several Staffordshire earthenware makers, who were offered the use of the Bristol porcelain licence in return for financing a factory together. Over a period of 50 years, the factory produced over three thousand patterns.
Reeman Dansie’s East Anglian fine art sale in Colchester on June 30-July 1 features an early pencil sketch depicting ships in an estuary by John Constable. This is one of around 120 sketches made during his excursion up the Thames and Medway aboard the merchant ship The Coutts during the spring of 1803. This marine scene, one of two Constable works in the sale, is estimated at £15,000-20,000.
This Arts & Crafts brass and enamel crucifix is by leading metalworker William Bainbridge Reynolds (1855-1935). Standing 2ft 7in (77cm) high, it is inscribed verso Hac Xmin Gratiam, Henrici Irvingi, Becket AD MDCCCXCIII, Inventit Atqve Fabricavit W Bainbridge Reynolds.
The inscription is a reference to the actor-theatre manager Henry Irving (1838-1905) who played the title role in Becket by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, at the Lyceum Theatre in 1893. By descent from Irving’s estate, the estimate is £1200-1800 at Dreweatts of Newbury on July 6.
The Montrose Ladies Golf Club Driving Course Medal (1895) comes for sale at Huntly Auctions of Turriff, Aberdeenshire, on July 28.
The gold medal, featuring a late-Victorian golfer, is now housed in a Mappin & Webb case with numerous silver plaques remembering previous winners of the annual tournament from 1896-1939. The Ladies Club at Montrose, also called the Montrose South Links Golf Club, was founded in 1889 and wound up in 1951.
The sale at Rowley’s in Ely on June 27 includes this Doulton Lambeth group of a pair of parakeets, 8in (19cm) high, estimated at £200-300.
Appearing in 1937, a couple of years after the locomotive itself was launched, Princess Elizabeth was the biggest 0-gauge locomotive that Hornby ever made. This example, powered by a 20-volt electric motor, is among the highlights of the Glorious Trains sale at Special Auction Services in Newbury on June 30-July 1. It is offered showing very light wear ‘in substantially original condition’ in original red leatherette box with the supplier’s label of Gliddon & Son, Sidmouth.
The Jewellery sale at Chiswick Auctions on June 30 includes this coral necklace and bracelet suite, c.1850, offered in a fitted vase with an estimate of £1500-2000.
This rare Air Ministry Military issue pilot’s wristwatch by Longines, c.1939, includes the Second Setting system invented by Philip Van Horn Weems (1889-1979). By adding a rotating 60-seconds bezel which could be locked in place, Weems created a simple way of allowing troops to align their watches’ seconds hands with each other and thus co-ordinate separate military actions to the second.
At Tennants of Leyburn on June 27, the estimate is £1200-1500.
London-based studio ceramics specialist Maak holds an online sale titled Form Over Function: The Abstract Vessel that closes on June 25. This 9in (22cm) stoneware vase with mottled green and brown matt glazes, c.1985, by John Ward (c.1938), has an estimate of £1500-2000.
This pair of Qing lapiz lazuli, polished hardstone and gilt bronze models of elephants carries expectations of £20,000-30,000 at the sale of Chinese Paintings and Works of Art at Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury on July 1. Similar to another pair illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Treasures of Imperial Court, they stand around 23in (57cm) high on elaborate pedestals decorated in coral, turquoise and other jewels.
Not only is the elephant symbolic of peace and stability but the image of one with a vase represents the rebus taiping youxiang, which carries the sentiment of wishing for peaceful times. Live elephants carrying vases featured in processions celebrating the emperor's birthday.
These models have a Rothschild provenance. They are among a group of objects consigned for sale (across a number of different auctions) at Woolley & Wallis by the Trustees of Exbury House, Hampshire, home of Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942), and Edmund de Rothschild (1916-2009).