The New Genuine Horse Race, a Britain’s toy from c.1890, sold at £1150. It was one of several gyroscopic toys made by the firm using the hollow lead casting process that would later lend itself so well to the production of toy soldiers.
There are two variants: one with four horses, the other, such as this, providing a two-horse race. The text to the original box reads: Wind the string round the pully and draw off gently holding the race steady by the handle to the centre. The inside horse may be pushed forward or backward to start the race. The Winner is Positively Uncertain.
All of these toys are very rare. A four-horse version in good original condition but without its packaging took £1300 at Bury St Edmunds’ Lacy Scott & Knight in 2016. Another ‘two horse race’ minus its box but also retaining much of its original paint was offered at Special Auction Services (25% buyer’s premium) in Newbury on September 21 where, estimated at £150-200, it took £210.
Suck it and see
Leech jars are perhaps the most desirable of all pharmaceutical ceramics. They make a strong decorative statement and speak loudly of the era before modern medicine. They are also avidly collected by several modern-day leech farmers: leeches have seen a therapeutic resurgence over the last few decades, less as blood suckers than for therapeutic compounds in their saliva.
The early Victorian Staffordshire pottery example offered in Chichester was a typical waisted ribbed shape standing 13in (33cm) high (a type associated with Samuel Alcock) but was unusual for its blue and white transfer printed decoration. It was in poor condition. The lid, with perforations to allow for the flow of air, had received a riveted repair and the foot broken and reglued.
However, it leapt past its guide of £40-60 to bring £3400 from an online bidder.
Estimated at 400-600 but sold at £6200 was a rare Irish four-barrel percussion pistol with a lock inscribed Mark & Jno Pattison, Dublin.
Fitted with a screw in blade for extra protection, it uses the so called ‘Rigby system’ as invented by William and John Rigby of Dublin in c.1825.
Instead of turning the barrels and having two cocks, there is a small disk with a hammer nose which has to be turned by hand after each shot. The system was in use only for a short time but guns such as this are evidence that it was copied at the time by at least one other Dublin maker.