Hansons’ (25% buyer’s premium) Derbyshire Fine Art Sale in Etwall on December 7-8 included an exceptional piece of Victorian silver: a sculptural group by Hunt & Roskell.
Marked to all elements for London 1880, the subject, modelled by George A Carter (1841-1918), depicts King John signing the Magna Carta in front of three barons, the Archbishop of Canterbury and two pages.
According to the presentation plaque, which includes a vignette of the Tower of London, it was given to the marine engineer Liberal MP Joseph d’Aguilar Samuda (1813-85) in 1880 by a large number of his friends and former constituents in the Tower Hamlets in recognition of the important services he has rendered to the borough.
The walnut stand on which it sits is carved with the Samuda coat-of-arms.
Exhibited at the South Kensington Museum (later the V&A) in 1884, it was sold by a descendant together with an eight leaf illuminated presentation manuscript and a guide of £20,000-30,000. It did rather better, selling at £56,000.
Warwick vase style
Unlike January (deprived of two major specialist sales following postponements at Woolley & Wallis and Lawrences of Crewkerne), December offered plenty for the silver buyer.
Silver in the sale of Fine Decorative Arts 1200-1900 at Bonhams (27.5/25% buyer’s premium) on December 18 was topped at £50,000 by a pair of Paul Storr wine coolers (London 1821) modelled in the form of the Warwick vase. They weighed 216oz and stood 8in (20cm) high.
However, alongside its set-piece of Georgian and Victorian plate, this sale was also memorable for an 8in (20cm) 17th century Dutch silver beaker by the Delft silversmith Pieter Groen. Its theme is education.
Dated 1667, it was made at a time when the Dutch education system was becoming secularised. The underside of the base is engraved with a scene of a teacher and his pupils.
Translated into English, the inscriptions read The School Orders in the City of Delft were published on 29 July A[nn]o 1663 and (alongside six names) These are the promoters of our exams and orders whereby this city will create good school teachers, under the wise guidance of our Magistrate who are good enough to enter into their new job for the benefit of society.
Groen became a master of the Delft silversmiths’ guild in 1646, and was four times appointed assayer, the last time in 1668. This fine example of his output was guided at £3000-4000 but sold at £28,000.
Storr soup plates
The sale at Dreweatts (25% buyer’s premium) in Donnington Priory on December 8 included a set of twelve 10in (25cm) silver hexafoil soup plates by Paul Storr.
With clear marks for London 1813, these also had crisp crests of an eagle preying on a partridge (the same design as a crest used by the Biss family). The hammer price was well above hopes at a healthy £17,000.
Unexpected levels of competition arrived for an early Victorian silver shaped oblong inkstand made in the Dutch naturalistic taste by the Barnard family (London 1840).
The design, measuring 15in (38cm) across the handles, includes a central detachable taperstick and it seemed to have gained further admirers for a presentation inscription reading The Gift of the Rev’d Cr. Wordsworth, Master of Trinity Col. Cam. to E&D Quillinan July 6, 1841.
Christopher Wordsworth (1774-1846) was an English divine and scholar and the youngest brother of the poet William Wordsworth. Edward Quillinan (1791-1851), himself a poet, was William’s champion and (after marrying his daughter Dora) his son-in-law. This inkstand is thought to have been a wedding present.
Estimated at an appealing £400-600, it took £4200.
Of particular interest for its marks – those of George Gordon who traded from 18 Popham’s Broadway in Madras from 1821-45 – was an Indian colonial tureen and cover. Standing 8in (20cm) and weighing just over 32oz, its nulled decoration was punctuated by a finial cast as an armorial. In very nice condition, it took £2600 (estimate £300-500).
However, few pieces in the sale could compete with the timeless draw of early 20th century Cartier.
As noted in a presentation inscription, a 4½in (11cm) high silver, gold and onyx desk accoutrement was given as a gift by British industrialist, financier and Member of Parliament Henry Mond (1898-1949), the 2nd Baron Melchett, to his long time personal assistant PW Cushion after 45 years’ service. It came by direct descent.
With import marks for 1912, to each of the four sides was a dial comprising clock, thermometer, barometer and perpetual calendar. Although it had been poorly maintained (and the box and travel case are not by Cartier), it sailed over a guide of £2500-3500 to bring £24,000.
Georg Jensen tableware is similarly a market of its own.
Aberdeenshire firm Huntly Auctions (15% buyer’s premium) of Turriff quickly ran out of phone bids for a rare silver mazarine and cover that was offered on November 24 as part of the effects from a Highlands estate.
Measuring over 18in (46cm) across, its most striking feature was a stylised finial formed as a bird feeding on a branch of berries. The scarce design is by Harald Nielsen (1892-1977), with London import marks for 1937 underlining this was a pre-war piece rather than a later issue.
Much admired by all who viewed it in Turriff or online for its size, style and condition, it provoked a bidding contest that began around the low estimate of £1500 but ended at £37,500.
Tapersticks burn bright
Silver at Roseberys’ (25% buyer’s premium) Fine and Decorative sale on November 25 enjoyed a 95% selling rate.
Estimated to make £1000-1500 was a pair of 8in (20cm) Queen Anne tapersticks with marks for Thomas Merry, London 1709. Made in the Britannia standard silver compulsory at the time, these were in very nice condition and went on to take £4600.
Merry, who was active from 1701-24, appears to have been a specialist candlestick maker, with many assuming this model with an octagonal base and baluster stem.
Sold at £2600 was an impressive George II twin-handled cup decorated to both the lower half and the cover with scroll and foliate motifs. Standing 12in (30cm) high and weighing 66oz, it had rubbed maker’s marks for London 1737.
Mannerist and more
Kingham & Orme (23% buyer’s premium) dedicated the first sale day of three from December 3-5 in Evesham to nearly 500 lots of silver and jewellery.
Two early Continental pieces of silver gilt were of particular note. An 8in (20cm) high cup and cover of typical Mannerist form and decoration was marked for the Nuremburg silversmith David Lauer or Laue, c.1590, while an Austrian tumbler cup engraved with three pastoral vignettes was struck for Johannes Sottenreich, Vienna 1712.
The former sold just shy of the low estimate at £5700, while the latter, with a provenance to SJ Phillips, made £1200.