Carved coral pendant with original case, £6800 at Clevedon Salerooms.

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A tiny carved pendant thought to be Trapani work came with a very attractive provenance when it appeared at Clevedon Salerooms (22% buyer’s premium) near Bristol.

Dated to the 18th or 19th century, the 1½in (4cm) high piece was carved as a kneeling tonsured monk or saint, perhaps the Carmelite Albert of Trapani (c.1240-1307), shown with arms outstretched. It was applied with a yellow metal belt and enamelled armlets connected to a short part-enamelled chain to serve as a pendant.


Detail of the matrix base of a carved coral pendant sold for £6800 at Clevedon Salerooms.

The base had an enamelled sunburst matrix to form a seal and it has the original fitted hinged cruciform case.

The pendant had passed down by descent from Sidney John Alexander Churchill MVO (1862-1921), who was British consul in Palermo (1898-1909) and consul-general in Naples (1912-18).

Churchill researched the history of gold and silver work in Italy, especially the Two Sicilies, and wrote a number of reference works on Italian goldsmiths in both English and Italian.

Offered on December 7 with a guide of £500-800, it sold for £6800.

Festive display


Group of nine presepio or creche figures, £2500 at Clevedon Salerooms.

From the same source came a group of nine presepio or creche figures. These are the realistically modelled figures of the Holy Family, shepherds and other Nativity characters and village figures used to create large-scale displays in Italy, especially in the south, in churches at Christmas time.

Each modelled with a terracotta head, wooden body and period costume, one of the nine was inscribed Ludovico Vaccaro (possibly in a later hand) who was a member of the 18th century Caltagirone workshop specialising in these figures.

Thought to probably date from the late 18th century, they were offered together with a carved alabaster figure of the Christ child in a manger.

Offered with an estimate of £3000-5000, the figures sold after the auction for £2500.