Monday 18th June, 2018
One of the UK's principal Fine Art Auctioneers, with General Sales, 
Fine Art Sales, Collectors Sales and Sporting Sales

October Fine Art Sale Preview

Lawrences in Crewkerne are finalising their Fine Art Auction for the autumn (to be held on October 13th-16th)and, with over 2000 lots across four days of sales, the auctioneers hope that there will be something to catch the eye of any collector.

A good consignment of furniture from a Dorset vendor includes a handsome wine cooler from the George III era. "These coolers stood on the dining room floor and kept wines, water and cordials cold within an insulating lead case inside the elaborate wooden carcase," explains Lawrences' Richard Gold. "Chilled water or ice would keep the drinks at the correct temperature and pairs of coolers were especially desirable as they attested to both the wealth and the generous hospitality of the owner. In addition, a skilfully made cooler reflected the owner's patronage of the best cabinet makers of the time. Our oval example is boldly designed with fluted paterae to the lid, wrythen (sinuous)fluting and large lion mask handles on the body and it is set on bold hairy paw feet. No doubt it has held some very fine wines down the years." The estimate is £3000-5000.

A hint of the approach of autumn is evident in a little picture coming up for sale at Lawrences in Crewkerne in their October sale. It is a study of six autumn leaves by the celebrated artist Eliot Hodgkin (1905-1987) who tried to depict things "exactly as they are, yet with some of their mystery and poetry, and as though seen for the first time." Unusually, it is painted in tempera which is a medium composed of egg yolk mixed with pigment that gives fine clear colour and dries to a smooth matt finish. Hodgkin was a writer, a keen religious thinker and a collector of all periods of art from Rubens to Graham Sutherland. Hodgkin's work is collectable today for his meticulous observation of nature, his painstaking technique, the subtle but uncontrived balance of his compositions and the photographic clarity of the colours he used. This little picture, painted in October 1972, measures just four inches by six and carries an estimate of £3000-5000.


Lawrences' largest ever sale in Crewkerne too place over three full days last week and over 3500 lots went under the hammer.

The first day comprised over 1000 lots and saw some strong bidding for militaria, coins and medals. Highlights included £1310 for a Japanese sword called a Shin Gunto Katana from about 1940, whilst a silver mounted presentation Rifle Officers sword made £1970. A Paget's Flintlock Carbine rifle made £2330 and a German flier's watch from the second World war exceeded its estimate to make £3220. A 22ct gold medallion from 1966 commemorating Padraig Pearse and his role in the 1916 Easter uprising sold within its estimate to make £2210 and the rare Oliver Cromwell halfcrown from 1658 (featured previously on these pages) made £2030 against hopes of £800-1000. Medal groups sold well: a group of six awarded to the coolheaded Major Harold Noel for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty under heavy enemy fire in August 1918 made £2210 (see illustration).

In the Collectors' section that followed, a collection of Penny Reds with Irish associations made £1610; a fascinating 1909 autograph album containing the signatures of cricket greats such as W. G. Grace, C. B. Fry and E. W. Dillon was bowled out at £1010; a fine cased violin by Keith Prowse made beautiful music for its vendor when it was bought for £1490; and a Polyphon Disc Player in a walnut case stood over 5 feet high and was the Victorian equivalent of a CD player: it made £4060. The polar bear automaton, also featured in this magazine a few weeks ago, was contested to £775. Cricketing items and other lots of sporting interest from the family of Somerset umpire Bill Alley took over £2100.

Highlights from the 400 lots of Sporting items that followed included £1195 for a dramatic watercolour of a sparrow hawk capturing a partridge by Andrew Ellis; £2390 for a more serene watercolour by George Lodge of a pheasant; £2990 for a lively bronze by Joseph Gayrard of monkeys on horseback; and a small bronze figure of a fox got away at £570. There was keen private interest in the numerous smaller lots of hunting silver and jewellery, books and prints, taxidermy, tack, hunting attire and fisihing rods and reels

A large selection of rugs and carpets ended the day: a Kazak rug made £1195 and a Heriz carpet made £2390.

The second day of Lawrences' recent Fine Art Sale in Crewkerne saw silver, objects of vertu and jewellery go under the hammer. Over 1000 lots were on offer in one day and some of the buyers went home as exhausted as the auctioneers after nearly eight hours of auctioneering. However, all agreed that the long day had been worth it and the even distribution of highlights throughout the sale ensured that there was always a good crowd in the room.

The day began with 500 lots of silver, overseen by Lawrences' newly-appointed specialist, Alex Butcher. There were 220 lots of collectors' spoons, flatware and cutlery to start the section and the top price was £5500 paid for a good canteen of Old English Shell pattern items from 1915. A Charles I Apostle spoon by Daniel Carey dated from 1635 and took £3940, followed by £2500 for a single caddy spoon by the celebrated Art Nouveau designers Omar Ramsden and Alwyn Carr from 1908. This section alone contributed over £63,000 to the day's takings.

Amongst the more mainstream items, a good set of four George III candlesticks by Ebenezer Coker dated from 1762 and made £9560; a suite of six modern (1928) reproductions of early 18th Century wall sconces made £7650; a Maltese hot milk jug (£5250) and a Maltese sugar vase and cover (£2500), both from c.1741-1773, showed the strong demand for good Continental pieces; and there was a surprise when a scarce pair of Old Sheffield Plate coach lamps were bid determinedly up to £9200. The biggest price came with the last lot, the exceptional pair of Armada Dishes that formed part of the service belonging to Sir Christopher Harris (c.1553-1625), now in the British Museum. These two dishes (along with 29 others) were made in 1600-1602 and were found in a cave near Plymouth in 1827 after being hidden during the Civil War. Historical interest in this famous service is intense and the dishes realised £161,000, over double the bullish estimate of £50,000-70,000

Amongst the objects of vertu, a small micromosaic paperweight made £1490; an Austro-Hungarian silvergilt singing bird box, with elaborately chased decoration, made £1430; a Limoges enamel triptych depicting processional figures made £2150; and a small musical snuff box from 1814 took £4300.

With gold prices strong and the enduring appeal of diamonds for investment as much as decoration, jewellery was well received. A gold wristwatch by Cartier made £3220; a ruby and diamond cluster ring made £2150; a ruby and diamond bow and feathers brooch skipped up to £2990; a three-stone diamond ring made £4780; a sparkling solitaire diamond made £4900; a pink topaz and diamond brooch made £4060 and a garnet and diamond brooch in the form of a clover leaf proved lucky for its vendor when it made £3700. The day's total was over £550,000, including buyer's premium.

A selection of Decorative Arts began the final day and top price was the £2600 paid for a Moorcroft MacIntyre Florian Ware Jardiniere in the desirable "Landscape" design. A rare Doulton figure of "The Sketch Girl" made £1300 whilst the equally scarce "Bather" took £1250. A large variety of glassware was well received by private collectors and dealers alike. Amongst the pottery and porcelain, a 20cm wide fragment of a 16th Century Maiolica tazza was contested up to £2150; a Meissen group of Bacchus and Ariadne made £1300 and another group of card players made £1550; a jade box and cover was bought for £980 and a 92cm long articulated bone and ivory dragon breathed sufficient fire into two bidders to make £2500.

In the Picture section, a private collection from Dorset of 19 military watercolours by Orlando Norie of The Royal Scots Greys totalled £18,000 and a sunny, breezy watercolour of ladies on a beach by Sir William Russell Flint was bought for £13,100. A misty twilight view of St Ives by Sir William Llewellyn made a probable world record price for the artist when it was bought for £16,700 and the portrait by Francis Cadell, saved from being painted over by its owner when he was an impecunious art student, made £25,000. It had cost his mother just sixpence in 1957.

Highlights in the furniture section included a mantel clock with a bronze Classical maiden alongside (£3460); a 17th Century oak court cupboard made £3460; a fine George III mahogany serpentine commode of rich colour made £6090; the superb George III mahogany wine cooler, featured previously on these pages, took £8120; whilst a suite of three mahogany stools by T. Dodge in the manner of Charles Tatham attracted no fewer than a dozen telephone bidders before being bought for £16,700

The day's total was £473,700 bringing the total for the week to a record-breaking total in excess of £1.1million including buyer's premium.

October Fine Art Sale Preview

Lawrences Auctioneers of Crewkerne will be auctioning a pair of Elizabeth I silver dishes 8" diameter, hallmarked London 1601, in their October Fine Art Sale.

 It is said that a Sir Christopher Harris had a suite of 31 different sized dishes made - he was a Devon man and a friend of Sir Walter Raleigh. During the Civil War (1640's) his place was going to be ‘sacked', so fearing for his life he buried his silver and fled to the East. He died and the secret of their (the dishes) whereabouts was lost in history.

 In 1827 some labourers unearthed the dishes. As they had an engraved coat of arms and they were ‘Treasure Trove' ie. put in the ground to be reclaimed later, the coroner got involved and eventually they were re-united with a branch of the family. Here they remained until the family sold them by auction, having fallen on hard times - some 60 years later, but only 26 were sold - 5 were missing. The 26 were again sold in 1911 by the new owners at Christies for a world record price of £11,500. The 26 are now in the British Museum - known as the ‘Armada Service', they were made from looted Spanish silver.

 Lawrences Silver Specialist, Alex Butcher said "It is still a mystery why these dishes were separated from the orignal set of 31. The Vendor believes that they were purchased in an estate sale somewhere in the Southern States of America. It would be great to re-unite them with the other dishes and be fantastic if the missing 3 should come to light".

 The pair of dishes will be sold in the Crewkerne Salerooms on Thursday 15th October and will have an estimate £50,000 - £70,000. For further details, please contact Alex Butcher on 01460 73041.


Collection of Toby Jugs......

Collection of Toby Jugs to be auctioned.......

This collection of Toby Jugs and Staffordshire Pottery will be sold in the weekly sale on the 14th of October.
The items can be viewed on the 13th of October, and coincides with the October Fine Art Sale.
For further details, please contact Simon Jones on 01460 73041.

Wedgwood Collection to be sold......


A wonderful collection of modern Wedgwood Pottery is to be sold at Lawrences Auctioneers in Crewkerne. The collection includes Vases, Jugs, Caskets, Candlesticks and various other items. As well as the usual Blue Jasper Ware, there are items in more unusual colours : terracota, lilac and green.

Lawrences Auctionneer Simon Jones explained "Wedgwood has alway been a popular name both selling, buying and collecting. This pieces were collected by a gentleman in the Taunton area, who chose good quality and unusual modern Wedgwood items."

The Wedgwood items will be included in the General Sale at the Crewkerne Salerooms on Wednesday 14th October.

For further enquiries, please contact Simon Jones on 01460 73041.

Bill Alley Cricket Memorabilia to be sold


A wonderful collection of Cricket memorabilia is be sold by Lawrences of Crewkerne. They originally belonged to Bill Alley, one of Somersets best known cricketers of the 20th century, who completed 400 first class matches for New South Wales, Somerset, and a Commonwealth X1.

Born in 1919 and originally from Australia, Bill began his career with New South Wales, where he was tipped by Don Bradman as a future Australian player.He eventually left to join the Lancashire leagues in England where he became the only player to score 1000 runs in five successive seasons in the leagues history.

He joined Somerset at the age of 38, and continued to the ripe old age of 49, and completed 350 first class games for the county. His best season was his testimonial season in 1961 when he compiled over 3000 runs.

Not content with a lengthy cricket career, he then became a first class umpire for 16 years and stood in 10 test matches. He so loved the West Country area, that he chose to remain there after retirement rather that returning to Australia, and remained there until his death in 2004.

Items include a signed Australian cricket bat,with Don Bradmans signature amongst others. A huge number of personal and cricketing photographs from the 1930's onwards, including his tour of India, Pakistan and Ceylon with a Commonwealth side. Team photographs of Australian and Somerset sides, and a wonderful autograph album compiled in the 1950's with County signatures.

The items will be sold at Lawrences Auctioneers of Crewkerne, in their October Collectors Sale.

For further details please contact Simon Jones on 01460 73041.

Rare Cricket Score Card to be sold...

A very early Cricket scorecard is to be sold at Lawrences of Crewkerne. Produced in 1859, is shows a match between The United England Eleven and The United Master Butchers at the Kennington Oval, Surrey.

The scorecard was produced by Fred Lillywhite in his printing tent, which he took to each venue when large crowds were expected, and was played to raise funds for the Master Butchers Charitable Institution.

It was common at this time for England Elevens to play against odds to make the matches more even, and the Master Butchers actually played with 22 players but still lost by 152 runs!

Lawrences Auctioneer Simon Jones said, "It is extremally unusual to see such an early piece of Cricket Memorabilia being entered in a sale, and it should attract interest from collectors and Cricket institutions"

It is expected to make up to £500 in auction, and will be sold in the October Collectors Sale on the 13th of October in a cricket section which includes the Bill Alley Archive.

For further details, please contact Simon Jones on 01460 73041.



October Fine Art Sale Preview

At Lawrences in Crewkerne, specialists Simon Jones and Jeffrey Day are both cataloguing busily for their forthcoming auction on October 13th.

In the section of militaria, coins and medals, Jeff has Napoleonic swords and guns, flintlock rifles and pistols, edged weapons and a collection of fighting knives to include a gentleman's silver hilted smallsword. This dates from the late 18th Century and has a rapier-like blade of triangular section with impressive silver guards. Its ownership would have marked the bearer as a man of wealth, power and success and it is estimated to realise £700-900

The selection of medals includes CBE, OBE and MBE decorations in singles and groups. A Distinguished Service Order "Gunners" group of six medals is a reminder of an act of distinguished heroism in the Great War. The German Spring Offensive of March 1918 had been intended to end the war but the plucky British officer to whom this was awarded beat back an attack under bombs and rifle fire. Included in the group is the scarce Territorial Force War Medal. Only 34,000 were issued and it is the rarest of the issued medals from the Great War. "It is most unusual to see this medal with a DSO," comments Jeff. "In combination with a Territorial decoration and a Special Constabulary medal, this is a very rare group. We are hoping to achieve £1200-1500 for it." Another medal group includes the Order of the Nile awarded to a Rear Admiral in 1918 (£400-600).

Amongst the coins are gold, silver and base metal items. Hammered, milled and bullion coinage are all represented. A Commonwealth Crown Piece of 1656 carries a sun mint mark but, unusually, no monarch's bust since it was issued during the Cromwellian era (£500-700, see illus). It carries the legend "God With Us" in bold capitals. A halfcrown bearing Cromwell's head is also in the sale (£800-1000, see illus). "This is interesting for being issued in 1658, the year Oliver Cromwell died. The man chose to be depicted like a Roman Emperor so as to reinforce further his image of authority but his advancing age is apparent and he didn't have long to live, " observes Jeff. "It is often forgotten that his son, Richard, succeeded him but only ruled for nine months before resigning. Coins and medals are one of the most direct ways for learning about political and military history. Nothing else brings you into closer contact with the everyday life of the period in which they were made. We hope to have something in this sale for every collector, whatever their budget." Further entries are invited until September 7th.


Automata are usually in the form of small human figures or mannequins and are generally found in elaborate or eye-catching dress of loose fit so that the mechanisms that operate them can be concealed more easily. So the automaton coming up for sale at Lawrences in Crewkerne in the autumn is surprising in two respects: it depicts a naked figure and that figure is not human but a polar bear.

Found in a house containing principally distinguished but sombre British pictures of the 1780-1840 period (many of which have already been sold at Lawrences), this polar bear was an unexpectedly light-hearted discovery. Although the mechanism no longer works, the bear would once have raised a flask and filled a tumbler. "Realistically modelled and standing 20 inches high, the fur is not authentic polar bear but appears to be rabbit or cat," says specialist Simon Jones. "There are no makers' names but it can certainly be repaired and then this whimsical little novelty will be ready for use again. Quite why anyone should associate polar bears with drinking alcohol I can't imagine. To keep away the cold perhaps?" The estimate is £200-300


There is a good selection of arms and armour in Lawrences' forthcoming sale in Crewkerne. "A good quality "Brown Bess" musket, similar to the effect of being kicked by a mule when fired, was lethal over short range but lacked accuracy beyond about 250 yards," comments the firm's specialist, Jeff Day. "It had a long life in the military from about 1740-1840 but it was heavy, awkward and clumsy to use so was not beloved by the troops". Lawrences have three examples, guided at £1000-1200 each.

"The Baker rifle from about 1800 was lighter and more accurate," continues Jeff. "Similar to the type used in `Sharpe's Rifles` on television, the gun could be fired three times in a minute but needed compression wadding to give the weapon a useful range. However, in the right hands it became a weapon of fear against Napoleon's troops. It is the forerunner of the highly accurate sniper rifle used today. We are hoping for £3000-4000 for our example."

In addition, there are blue and gilt swords with gilt and ivory hilts (estimates from £400-800), Martini-Henri guns as used in the Zulu and Afghan wars (£400-600 each) and the Snider-Enfield gun which was useless in desert warfare as the action was quickly jammed by blown sand (£400-600). A good quality Paget's Carbine, designed by General Henry Paget of the 7th Light Dragoons and used from 1820-1850, is expected to make £2000-3000 (see illustration). There are fighting knives, commando daggers and smatchets (slashing double-edged knives) as well as the Fairburn-Sykes fighting knife used on special operations with estimates ranging from £200-1000.


A Cricket Great Graces Crewkerne......

A wonderful Cricket autograph album is to be sold at Lawrences of Crewkerne. The album includes legendary names from the golden age of Cricket, with W G Grace, Victor Trumper, and C B Fry to mention just three.

The album was compiled by a W K Doorne, who was born in 1891 and lived in the Kent area. A keen club Cricketer, he collected signatures in the early part of the 20th century, and eventually became Station Master at Charing Cross Railway Station.

On the 6th of August 1909 he collected signatures at the Kent v Hampshire match at Canterbury. Amongst the signatures are C B Fry, an outstanding Sportsman, Politician, Academic, Editor, and Publisher, but best remembered as a Cricketer and Sportsman. He represented England at Cricket, held the long jump world record at one time, and played in an FA Cup final!

Also included are Frank Woolley, ,Colin Blythe (who died in the first world war), and many others. Also on this page is the signature of W G Grace who despite not playing in this match was obviously present. WG was the ultimate player of his generation, excelling in all aspects of the game and with a towering personality. He was the sporting icon of the Victorian and Edwardian period, and his death in 1915 marked the end of a generation.

Also in the album are some signatures of the 1909 Australian Cricket Team, most famous of which is Victor Trumper. Known as the most stylish player of the Golden Age, his play and endearing personality made him an Austraian icon. His premature death in 1915 shocked Australia, and he is still remembered at the Sydney Cricket Ground where a stand is named after him.

Lawrences auctioneer Simon Jones said, " This is one of the best Cricket autograph albums i have ever seen. To have so many famous players signatures from before the First World War is very unusual, and it should attract interest from Cricket collectors and Museums"

The album contains numerous other signatures and is expected to make £500-£700 in auction, and will be sold at Lawrences of Crewkerne on the 13th of October in a large Cricket section.

For further enquiries please contact Simon Jones on 01460 73041.

General Sale


Due to a high quantity of items, the General Sale on Wednesday 7th October has been postponed.

The sale will be amalgamated into the Decorative Antiques Sale on Wednesday 14th October and the Sale on Wednesday 21st October which will be held at Warehouse on Blacknell Lane.

For further details, please contact Tony Lacey on 01460 73041.