The 8½in (21.5cm) goblet painted with the arms of George III was the highlight of the Durrington collection offered in 60 lots on November 15 in Bond Street. It sold towards the top end of the estimate at a price that with premium was £178,200.
The previous auction record for Beilby glass was a light baluster decorated with the arms of Prince William V sold by Bonhams as part of the Hubbard collection in 2011. It had been an after-sale at £90,000.
The Durrington collection was assembled between 1984 and 2004, mainly through Asprey, and on loan at Broadfield House Glass Museum until 2004.
This goblet belongs to a group o of stately glasses all decorated with the royal arms by William Beilby (1743- 1819) at his famed workshop in Newcastle upon Tyne.
It is unclear just how many were originally produced but they are thought to have been commissioned to commemorate the birth of the Prince of Wales (the future king George IV) on August 12, 1762.
It has been suggested that some may have been intended as diplomatic gifts perhaps commissioned by fieither Thomas Pelham-Holles (1693-1768), first duke of Newcastle, or Charles Watson-Wentworth (1730-82), second marquis of Rockingham. Ten goblets and a decanter survive, with no two identical either in form or decoration. Four goblets are signed including that in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
The unsigned Durrington goblet was formerly part of the Kenneth Alexander collection and the celebrated 100 British Glasses exhibition held by Asprey at the Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair in 1985. Many of the pieces in the exhibition were acquired at the time for the Durrington collection.
The only equivalent goblet to sell at auction in recent memory was also offered in 1985. The so-called Whitehaven goblet - chosen as the front cover illustration to James Rush’s book A Beilby Odyssey (1987) - is similarly decorated with the royal coat of arms but (instead of the Prince of Wales’ feathers on the reverse) has the legend Success to the African Trade of Whitehaven. It commemorates a slave ship, The King George, launched in 1763. Sold at Christie’s at the time for £52,000, it was subject to an export ban and is now in the Beacon Museum in Whitehaven.
The Durrington collection, sold in 60 lots, was focused on early balusters, Jacobite glasses, enamelled glass and coloured glass. As they were brought into the UK for sale, the lots were subject to import VAT of 5% on hammer price.
Two other glasses from the Beilby workshop brought the sale’s second and third highest sums.
The ‘Buckmaster’ goblet, measuring 7in (18.5cm) and painted in polychrome with an elaborate coat of arms sold above its £40,000-60,000 estimate at £80,000 (£112,160 with premium). The arms are ffiunrecorded (and unlikely to have been officially granted) but were once thought to represent the Buckmaster family of Lincolnshire.
When last sold by Sotheby’s in December 1997, it set a record auction price for a Beilby enamelled glass at £60,000. Its pair is in the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery in Bedford.
The 6½in (16cm) Providence ‘privateer’ wine glass is also one of two recorded. Decorated with a three-masted ship in white and red enamels it is inscribed The Providence and Jon Elliot 1767. The unusual colour twist stem includes threads in white, red, translucent cobalt-blue, canary-yellow and translucent jade-green. The pair to this glass was sold by Bonhams as part of the Hubbard Collection for £24,000, This example pitched at £20,000-40,000 took £50,000.