18th century swivel gun – £4100 at Barbara Kirk.

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Topping Barbara Kirk’s (15% buyer’s premium) 950-lot September 28-29 sale was an 18th century bronze swivel gun.

Designed to sweep an enemy’s decks with small shot, it had been recovered from the wreck of HMS Association off the Isles of Scilly where, along with three other warships under the command of Sir Couldesley Shovell, she sank in 1707 in one of the worst maritime disasters in Royal Navy history.

Salvage operations began after the Association was located in the 1960s and this gun was finally raised by Cornish salvage expert Richard Morris in 2010. Among the 30 lots in the Kirk sale consigned by collector Steve Welsh, it went a little above estimate to a Devon buyer at £4100.

Other items from the Association included a squat malletshaped wine bottle which quadrupled the top estimate at £820.

Lifeboat heritage

Rescuers rather than wreckers – a calumny blamed on Jamaica Inn by daughter of the county Daphne Du Maurier – featured as Cornwall’s history of lifeboats surfaced in a couple of lots.

One was three copper ingots which doubled the top estimate, going to a local collector at £820.

They were recovered from the Cunard steamer SS Malta which ran ashore near Cape Cornwall in 1889. All aboard were saved by the Sennen lifeboat. Sennen lifeboat’s history of heroism was evidenced by an RNLI Silver Medal inscribed Mr Silvester Morrison. 5th Nov’r. 1868.

Morrison, a Sennen Cove coastguard, joined the lifeboat to help save the crew of the wrecked brig New Commercial, carrying out the first rescue from a moving vessel using the ‘new’ rocket apparatus. Guided at £400-500, the medal sold online at £1300.

Mining memories


Bronze tin smelter’s stamp – £2400 at Barbara Kirk.

Tin mining was remembered in a bronze tin smelter’s stamp for the once huge Mellanear mine by St Ives Bay.

Measuring 8½in x 5¼in (21.5 x 13.5cm) including the mahogany mount, it sold to a Cornish buyer at a 10-times-estimate £2400.


Bernard Leach tile – £320 at Barbara Kirk.

Cornish craftsmen were represented by a 9in (22.5cm) long copper pencil box embossed with a fish, shells and seaweed and stamped Newlyn which tripled expectations at £400, while top seller among a host of West Country studio potters was a tile by the first of them all, Bernard Leach.

The 4in (10cm) square tile decorated with a well and the painted personal monogram and pottery mark, it more than doubled top hopes in selling online at £320.

Top fishing item in the Cornish cornucopia sale came from 10,000 miles away: three South Sea tribal fishing hooks, one in abalone shell labelled from Fiji, one in mother of pearl from the New Hebrides and one in horn from the Society Islands.

Estimated at £150-200, the hooks caught the eyes of Australian bidders but went via to a UK gallery at £2500.