A late entry and therefore cursorily catalogued group of banknotes with a token face value estimate of £40-60 was a major eye-catcher at Mallams’ (25% buyer’s premium) biannual Oxford Library Sale.
Bidders were advised to contact the rooms for condition reports on the dollar bill, three ten shilling notes, one pound note and a £50 note from the 1981-96 issue featuring Sir Christopher Wren.
When inquirers learned the Wren note was a very early example, number A01 00004, interest soared and the lot went to a UK buyer at £8400.
Gueridon thought to be period
This made the notes the most expensive paper offering in the 700-lot sale on February 8-9, nearly half of which comprised a successful books offering (see Books and Works on Paper), but it was not the only surprise.
The biggest was supplied by a Louis XVI (1774-92) gueridon.
Although pitched at £1000-2000, it was reckoned to be a period rather than a revivalist piece. A Natural Le Coultre Geneve label for the fine art storage facility at the Swiss freeport established in 1869 indicated that a previous owner had valued it highly.
Featuring a pierced ormolu border to the 22½in (57cm) diameter serpentina verde marble top and standing 2ft 6in (76cm high on three bronze supports), its condition was described as ‘moderate to good’. It sold at £21,000.
A to Z bidding route
Also going at more than 10 times top estimate was a 1981 work by Leonard ‘Jonah’ Jones (1919-2004), the carved slate alphabet encapsulating much of the artist-sculptor’s life.
At infant school in Co Durham, Jones would have learned to chalk the alphabet on a framed piece of slate. The stone is almost synonymous with Wales, his adopted country, and this 15in (38cm) square work reflects his skill as a calligrapher. Dated 1982 and in good condition, it was estimated at £100-200 but sold to a collector at £2600.
Other eye-catchers included a pair of George III-style side tables and a naval officer’s dirk.
The 3ft 7in (1.1m) wide satinwood demi-lune tables were 19th or early 20th century pieces but met today’s demand for strong visual attraction with segment veneered tops and inlaid decoration. They had some surface marks and water marks but, against a £400-600 estimate, sold at £3400.
The dirk with foliate-engraved 12in (32cm) curved blade had a lion’s head pommel and crocodile cross guard and was catalogued as possibly having belonged to a member of the Egyptian Club, formed by Nelson’s captains after the admiral’s victory at the 1798 Battle of the Nile.
Estimated at £1000-2000, it sold at £3000 to an online bidder.