Bidders with Christmas gifts on their mind were set a royal example when an Aesthetic-taste pepperette was offered at Rogers Jones’ (24% buyer’s premium) Cardiff sale.
The 3½in (9cm) piece was stamped to the base Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver and Other Metals and, probably more importantly, engraved Given By TRH Prince & Princess of Wales, Xmas 1879.
The Tiffany Blue Book - the first direct mail catalogue in the US, showcasing the firm’s delights, launched in 1845 - recorded that the pepperette with copper knop, strap handle and pierced grill was order No 9720 bought by Prince Edward for Princess Alexandra in 1879 and that its making had cost £10 and the engraving £14.
Over the years it had acquired a small ding to the base and the top had become slightly skewered but - as a valuation day consignment - it came in for sale with what proved an attractive guide of £1800-2500. Accompanied by copies of the relevant Tiffany archival material, it sold to a US bidder at £8000.
Big names are a feature of Rogers Jones’ tri-annual Selections & Collections sales; the November 19 offering comprising just 138 lots for a hammer total of £131,400.
They attracted interest from across the globe - “more countries than at the World Cup,” said auctioneer Charles Hampshire.
A pair of silver and silver-gilt candlesticks by Stuart Devlin (1931-2018) sold online to China at a top-estimate £3000. Hallmarked for London 1973, they were trademark works with about half of the 13in (34cm) overall height comprising textured cagework shades.
It was only silver plate but a toast rack designed by Christopher Dresser (1834-1904) for James Dixon and Sons took £2200. Dated c.1885, the 6¼in (16cm) long rack, with a double row of hexagons and openwork frame, had some slight rubbing and bent end bars but tripled the estimate selling over the phone.
Dresser also featured among the ceramics with an 1890s vase impressed Ault England, the Derbyshire pottery the designer worked with after the Linthorpe pottery folded. The 15in (38cm) tall red, yellow and green cylindrical vase, with moulded clouds and stars to the body and moulded owls to the flared neck, sold online to the US at a top-estimate £800.
Topping the ceramics was a 7in (17.5cm) Royal Worcester ginger jar and cover painted with fallen fruits within gilt borders. It was signed John Freeman, who joined the factory aged 14 in 1925 and worked there all his life, becoming known as ‘the fruit machine’ to his younger colleagues. His mid-20th century jar doubled expectations when it sold to a Welsh collector at £1750.
Grand Tour souvenir
Best of the bronzes was the 18th or 19th century Grand Tour group after the antique model of Laocoon and his sons in the Vatican.
The model has been reproduced by sculptors ever since the Hellenistic marble original was discovered in a Roman vineyard in 1506.
This 6½in (17cm) high cast on a 3in (8cm) pedestal was estimated at £800-1200. It attracted strong London trade interest and action in the room before selling to a collector at £8000.
Another sculptural work to sell at 10 times the lower estimate was a 9in (23cm) diameter marble bas-relief tondo depicting the profile of a man in classical robes. It was signed A. Simonetti F.in Sydney 1876 for Achille Simonetti (1838-1900), an Italian who moved to Australia in 1871 where he enjoyed a successful career and completed some important commissions.
Four Australians, two online, two on the phone, competed this modest work way beyond the £300-500 estimate before it sold to one of the internet bidders at £3400.
Jewellery generally gets a lift in the run-up to Christmas and a 2ct diamond solitaire ring in gold and platinum setting more than doubled top expectations at a sale high of £8500.
More eye-catching and more personal were a Victorian bangle and a c.1700 gold posy ring. The c.1870 hinged unmarked metal bangle had three blue enamel domes set with coral and diamond star motifs.
With an inner diameter of 2in (5.5cm), it tripled the estimate in going to an online buyer, underbid by a London dealer, at £2800.
The lobed posy ring was engraved to the interior Not for riches but for love but still had its price. Pitched at £700-1000, it was another Welsh private buy at £2000.
Black Forest bear
If there was a bit of pre-Christmas spirit to this bijou sale, it’s always open season on Black Forest bears.
A 19in (49cm) Swiss limewood example was carved seated with open mouth and with painted tongue, teeth and nose, glasses eyes and well-defined fur detailing.
Against expectations of £1500-2500 the bear was bought by a Black Forest enthusiast well known to the saleroom at £5500.