Sampson Mordan silver pheasant mounts for a glass claret jug, sold by Thomson Roddick Callan for £3400.

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And they continue to be voguish today (in ATG No 2626, for example, we reported on a Crichton parrot jug sold by Harper Field in December last year for £5600).

So much so, in fact, that even when just the fragments or components of a jug come up for sale prospective purchasers consider it worth buying to repair or to replace the missing glass elements.

Such was the case on January 4 this year in Edinburgh when Thomspon Roddick Callan (20% buyer’s premium) offered the attic contents of a local country house.


Sampson Mordan bird’s feet mount, £600 Thomson Roddick Callan.

Along with the paintings, furniture, ceramics and household effects, a selection of silverware was available that included the bones of three glass novelty claret jugs silver mounted as birds.

Two of these were by Alexander Crichton and the same or very similar to the 1880s parrot jug sold by Harper Field. The engraved glass body of the example that sold for £850 against a £100-200 guide was broken and the head and one of the coloured glass eyes was detached (but still there along with the head and neck). The other still had the glass body but this was detached from the head and feet. It realised £800.

The most expensive was a lot containing silver mounts for a head and neck and tail of a pheasant by the firm of Sampson Mordan & Co. This was marked for Sampson Mordan II – the son of Sampson Mordan who inherited his father’s business in 1843 – and was dated to 1882.

Both mounts were described as a close match and they easily outpaced a £150-250 guide to take £3400.

The fourth lot was a pair of bird’s feet also by Sampson Mordan & Co. They featured a design registered mark to the underside where they were also detailed as being retailed by Thornhill & Co of New Bond Street (Sampson Mordan supplied silver novelties to many of London’s fashionable retailers).

These could have either come from a separate piece or perhaps, given that the feet look very similar to those on a complete example of this firm’s pheasant jug sold by Christie’s in 2019, may have been related to the previous lot.

Either way, the feet alone realised £600 against a guide of just £40-60.