Friday 15th December, 2017
One of the UK's principal Fine Art Auctioneers, with General Sales, 
Fine Art Sales, Collectors Sales and Sporting Sales


Lawrences’ last major catalogued sale of the year took place in Crewkerne on December 8th and comprised books, letters, manuscripts, maps and photographs.

Highlights were many and an early success was for a unique copy of Francis Bacon’s `Of Gardens`, embellished with original watercolour illustrations by Allan Vigers in 1904. The exquisite and painstaking craftsmanship lifted the price to £3050.  An album of 73 mounted photographs of Persia and India dated from c.1880 and made £2680; Rudolf Ackermann’s `History of the University of Cambridge..` from 1815 included 79 hand-coloured aquatints and made £3050; Adam Smith’s seminal `Wealth of Nations` (1778) in two volumes, a major analysis of economic principles, had belonged to a distinguished professor at the London School of Economics and soared to £15250; and Simeon Solomon’s `A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep` (1871) was  bid to a double-estimate £3660.

Two particular surprises came towards the end of the 500-lot sale. A charming 1893 letter by Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, to a Miss Ruby Paulson expressed regret that `Sherlock has become very lazy..` but noted nonetheless that the eminent detective had judged intuitively that the girl’s father would be about 45 years of age, that the girl’s hair was brown, that she was a clever girl `with a turn for everything except mathematics`. Offered with its envelope, the informal letter with its kindly and avuncular tone attracted many bids before being bought for £9000.

Three lots related to Oskar Schindler (1908-1974) and to his wife, Emile. The Schindlers were credited with saving the lives of over 1000 Jewish holocaust victims, commemorated in Thomas Keneally’s `Schindler’s Ark` (1982) and Steven Spielberg’s film `Schindler’s List`. One lot comprised a small personal archive of correspondence, photographs and personal effects that had belonged to Emile Schindler (`thank you ..for having restored my faith in mankind`); a second lot was an Omega gold automatic wristwatch, reputedly Oskar’s own; and the final lot included a lady’s 18ct gold watch with other small items of jewellery. Against hopes of £1900, these three lots reached £20900, each bought by the same determined bidder.


Our forthcoming auction of jewellery on January 18th includes a collection of nine superb lots that had been stored in a safe deposit box in the bank for about thirty years.  “The West Country vendor is selling the jewels, which belonged to her mother and grandmother," explains Lawrences’ jewellery specialist, Miranda Bingham. “Many of the  banks are now discontinuing their safe deposit box facility for jewellery and valuables, which is one of the reasons why the collection has come to us for sale. In addition, we have had some remarkable results in our sales in 2017 and feel optimistic about the market for fine quality jewellery, especially if it has not been seen at auction before.”

Highlights include an Art Deco ruby and diamond bracelet with exceptional quality natural Burmese rubies (£3000-5000); an Art Deco sapphire and diamond bracelet with no evidence of any heat treatment, the sapphires totalling 24 carats (£6000-8000); a three stone diamond ring set with stones weighing approx 4.5 carats (£6000-8000); and a Victorian diamond riviere necklace, set with 61 brilliant-cut stones (£10,000-15,000, see illustration). The nine lots are expected to make £50,000.

The jewellery is one section of a 2600-lot sale of Fine Art that spans four days. In addition to jewels and watches, there will be 1100 lots of silver (including two notable private collections), Decorative Arts and ceramics, Oriental items, pictures, clocks, furniture, works of art and carpets with estimates from £50 to £15000.


This rare Dunhill table lighter is known as an Aquarium Lighter and they were made by Dunhill from the 1950’s onwards. They have lucite panels on both sides with the interiors hand painted showing fish and underwater foliage. It measures 8cms high and 9.5cms across, and comes in very good condition.

These were expensive items to purchase at the time and continue to be highly sought after.

Auctioneer Simon Jones said, ‘We have sold a couple of these lighters in the last couple of years, and they are always very popular with collectors, so we are expecting a great deal of interest’

This lighter will be sold in Lawrences’ Winter Fine Art Sale on Thursday 18th January. It is expected to make £1000-1500 at auction.

For further enquires about this sale please contact Simon Jones on 01460 73041. Entries invited until the end of the month.


A mass of eager bidders online and on telephones ensured that our autumn Fine Art sale was a great success with over 80% of the pictures finding buyers, many of whom were forced by keen competition to bid over the estimate to secure what they wanted.

A watercolour by William James Muller, exhibited in Brussels, Bucharest, Vienna, Prague and London, doubled its estimate to make £3900 whilst an Edwardian gem entitled `Between School Hours` by Charles Edward Wilson did likewise by taking £3600. A charismatic 1760’s portrait of fifteen year old John Helyar by Dorset artist Thomas Beach was appearing on the market for the first time and made £7560. Two high Victorian works by Thomas Sidney Cooper and Louis Bosworth Hurt depicted cattle in Kent and in Ross-shire. They made £8000 and £7300 respectively.

A superb pair of Venetian view by Carlo Grubacs, consigned for sale from a collector in the Channel Islands, performed strongly and made £10,000. A seasonally apt oil by Elizabeth Adela Stanhope Forbes, entitled `Autumn Breeze`, was bought for £9000. A small oil study on paper by Sir Stanley Spencer was bought for £10000. The day’s top two prices were paid for a brace of rare pastels by celebrated Scottish Colourist Samuel John Peploe, consigned for sale by descendants of the artist. These works dated from c.1895-1905, shortly after the artist’s return from Paris. Showing the clear influence of Edgar Degas, one showed a dancer fixing her shoes, the other depicted a lady fixing her hair. The former made £19500, the latter £30000, each doubling hopes. The sale exceeded £330,000.


Some outstanding prices for carpets led a strong auction of furniture and works of art. 

A mahogany longcase clock struck the right note at £1890 and the £6460 paid for a large Regency convex mirror with decoration of an eagle and serpents reflected the keen interest shown in it. A Chinese lacquered cabinet on stand, thought to be 18th Century, was bought for £3000 whilst a black lacquered Chinoiserie cabinet on stand (c.1700) reached £4880. A carved stone pug, roughly life size at 37cm long, was judged to be mid-18th century and scampered to £17000.

The exceptional carpets came from the collection of George Moffatt MP and his descendants, owners of Goodrich Court in Herefordshire. The house, now demolished, was described by Nikolaus Pevsner as a “fantastic and enormous castellated tower-bedecked house” and was occupied until the Second World War when it was used as a school by evacuees from Essex. A contemporary account records that `the house was furnished with amazing furniture and paintings (with) armour everywhere. I remember one boy got stuck inside a Jacobean helmet and had to be rescued by the headmaster`.

The items then passed by family descent and were most recently housed at Crowcombe Court, Somerset from where a group was sold as part of the Somerset auctioneers’ autumn Fine Art sale. Highlights included a Feraghan rug from West Iran, a rare Isfahan silk souk rug (£5000) and a similar silk souf prayer rug. The top prices were paid for a fine Amritsar carpet from Punjab, 4.7 x 3.6m, that soared to £14000 and a pair of Agra runners from North India that were bid eagerly to £20,700. “The combination of good provenance, fine quality, good condition and realistic estimates ensured that we had plenty of bids, “commented Lawrences’ Director, Neil Grenyer. “The results show that we can attract international bidders for lots that are so desirable: we had telephone bidders – some private, some trade -  from Italy, Turkey and Iran, in addition to many London bidders. Not surprisingly, our vendors are delighted with the outcome.”


Our recent auction of Decorative Arts was a resounding success with remarkable results for two consignors in particular.

A large private collection of modern Moorcroft pottery had been assembled by a Somerset lady over two decades and was offered as 62 lots, comprising over 120 items in total. Although a vase in the `Sunshine Chandelier` pattern sold for £130 to show how relatively affordable some Moorcroft can be, the higher prices proved just how desirable much of it has become. The top price of £1280 was for a large vase from 2007 in the `Timbavati` pattern. The collection realised £24,700.

Other successes included £1200 for a rare Minton `Chinese` lidded box from 1872 painted with Royal Persian turquoise glaze; a similar price for twenty plates by Herend in the Rothschild Bird design; a Lalique vase from 1937 in the `Pivoines` design that was bought above expectations at £2250; and a cold-painted bronze, ascribed to Franz Bergmann, of a camel rider with a lady attendant that was bid to £1460.

The sale’s top price, however, was paid for an Arts & Crafts oak settee designed and made by the celebrated craftsman Sidney Barnsley (1865-1926). The 2.18m (86 inch) long oak settee had passed by descent through the family of close associate Ernest Gimson until about thirty years ago, whereupon it was given to Sir Anthony Denny Bt, latterly of Muchelney. The serviceable, rustic style of the piece was inspired in some respects by wagon construction and the pegged and jointed construction methods reflect traditional joinery methods that celebrate `honesty` of design. There was delight for its Dorset vendor as the lot exceeded its £6000-8000 estimate to be bought for £40,000.


There was a broad mix of ceramics and glass in our recent auction  and collectors from far and wide were showing a keen determination to buy.

A pair of Royal Worcester plaques by Harry Davis were barely 10cm across but typified Davis’s style and made £4270. A `Friendship` glass rummer from c.1800 was engraved with the inspiring motto `May the Wings of Friendship Never Loose a Fether` and was bid above the estimate to £460.

However, successes with Chinese works of art dominated the sale and prices included £4270 for a large blue and white , probably Kangxi; £4880 for a bottle vase from the middle of the 20th Century; and £3780 for an interesting album of twelve pith pictures showing the various stages of tea cultivation. A Thai gilt bronze Buddha from a collection in Nova Scotia was bid to £5000 whilst the sale’s top price was paid for a 60cm high Chinese famille verte vase and cover depicting a tiger hunt. This was chased down at £8500.


Over 500 lots of silver went under the hammer to start our three-day Autumn Fine Art auctions and strong prices in each section of the sale showed that demand is strong for silver – and the more unusual the better.

A large quantity of Hanoverian pattern silver cutlery and flatware, weighing over 228 oz, was bought for £5120 and an elegant, finely made Chinese silver tea service, produced for the export market in c.1900, was bought for £3780. Other highlights included £820 paid for a `castle top` snuff box showing Warwick Castle, made by the celebrated Birmingham silversmith Nathaniel Mills in 1838; and £1950 for a very fine portrait miniature of a Yeomanry officer by Samuel Shelley (c.1805).

The day’s top prices were paid for a George I Irish flagon by Thomas Williamson of Dublin (1718) that made £6580 for its owner in Bath; there was keen interest in a rare Maltese coffee jug by Giovanni Lebrun (c.1775-1780), consigned for sale by a Dorset vendor, that made £7560; and a steaming £12300 was paid for another Maltese coffee jug without even a maker’s mark that nonetheless made over ten times the estimate for its Gloucestershire owner.

“Although the keen demand for Irish silver has been established for years, the growth of the Maltese market is more of a surprise for relatively little of it is to be found in Britain,” says Alex Butcher, Silver specialist. “When rarity, quality, good condition and collectability combine, we often see remarkable results like these.”

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