One of the UK's principal Fine Art Auctioneers, with General Sales,
Fine Art Sales, Collectors Sales and Sporting Sales
A GOOD DAY FOR ALL IN THE SPORTING SALE
There were treats for buyers and delights for vendors amongst the 1100 lots in Lawrences' sporting sale last week and, in an increasingly selective marketplace, the Crewkerne auctioneers were pleased to see a room full of collectors who had come from across the country to this twice-yearly event.
Anything unusual or of exceptional quality seemed to catch the eye and so there was keen bidding on a cased set of thirteen 18th Century spurs for fighting cocks, made by John Moore in Haymarket. Cockfighting was one of Britain's most popular sports until it was banned in 1835: fighting pits in Downing Street and the Palace of Westminster had to close. These barbaric little weapons (or "gavelocks") carry a strange appeal amongst collectors who obviously acquire them only for display rather than use. Estimated at £1000-1500, they took £2930 (see illustration). Of more practical use, a 12-bore boxlock ejector shotgun by Charles Boswell made £1410 and two 1920's Perfect fishing reels by Hardy made £450 whilst another single Hardy 4" salmon reel was bid to £540. Equally practical for the horserider was a good pine saddle horse that took £490 and a rare 18ct gold hunting horn made for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 made £1990 against an estimate of £1000-1500.
Novelties were popular, too: a cased pair of enamelled cufflinks by Aspreys showing the sporting distractions of cards, horses, champagne and a pretty girl will adorn some rogueish cuffs at £820 and four Edwardian silver menu holders of minutely cast game birds will decorate a sportsman's table at £725. A bronze figure of a recumbent fox made £1175 and a small modern bronze of a fox by Paul Jenkins made £400. Cased fish and taxidermy is always in demand: a British record brook trout caught at Blagdon in 1923 by Stephen Bedford is preserved forever in a good quality glass case by Homer of London and swam all the way up to £1640. An unusual Great Northern Diver mounted by the firm of Bishop of Oban depicted the great bird on glass "lake" and made £480 and a more traditional stag's head killed by the Devon and Somerset Stag Hounds in October 1935, mounted with skill by Rowland Ward (the taxidermist of choice in that era), made £525.
There were 500 lots of pictures and prints in the sale. Amongst a host of strong prices, £1760 was bid for an oil by Dean Wolstenholme, £700-1000 was typical for quite a few horse portraits by Frances M. Hollams, £1880 was paid for a fine pair of larder scenes of dead game by Benjamin Blake, Snaffles' print of the Staff College Drag Hunt led the selection of prints at £1880 and a rare Snaffles print of a hunted boar exceeded expectations to make £1410. Attention of watercolour connoisseurs focused upon two superb Archibald Thorburn watercolours: one of red grouse from a Bridport house fluttered all the way to £19975 whilst the front cover image of pheasants in a field was not only large (21 by 30 ins) but in flawless condition - this help it to soar to its top estimate and it was finally flushed out at £32300. Both have gone to a Scottish buyer but there were bids throughout the sale from all over Britain and Europe and quite a few from America, too.
TALLY HO! 1100 LOTS OF HUNTIN', SHOOTIN' AND FISHIN' AT AUCTION
Those who love hunting, shooting and fishing should ensure that they view Lawrences' forthcoming auction, a massive 1100-lot extravaganza on November 25th (10.00am start)comprising everything for the enthusiast from a simple fishing rod through to exemplary shotguns, taxidermy and pictures. There is an unusual Victorian stirrup cup in the form of a fox's mask with silver mounts (£2000-2500), a British record 4lb 15oz Brook Trout caught in 1923 and now preserved in a fine glass case (£1500-2000), a cased set of 18th Century cock spurs from the days of cockfighting (£1000-1500) and an impressive water buffalo head, mounted upon a shield by Edward Gerrard and Sons (£250-350). The most desirable taxidermist of all, Rowland Ward, is represented by a number of examples including a European Eagle Owl in a glass case (£1750-2250) and there is a unique 18ct gold hunting horn made for the Queen's Silver jubilee in 1977 by Pearce and Sons (£1000-1500). Highlights amongst the pictures include a watercolour cartoon by Snaffles entitled "The Knaphill Jelly Dogs" (£3000-3500), four early 19th Century oil paintings in the style of Richard Jones depicting terriers rabbiting (£1200-1500 the set), a large oil painting of a bay hunter by eminent 19th Century equestrian artist John Ferneley (£2500-3500) and numerous prints by Snaffles, Cecil Aldin, Lionel Edwards and other artists (estimates from £50-1000). Top honours are likely to go to Archibald Thorburn, represented in the sale by two fine watercolours each of which is still in the possession of the families who acquired them when the pictures were newly painted and now appearing at auction for the first time. There is an atmospheric scene of Red Grouse in Flight is from an old family collection near Bridport (£12000-18000) whilst a large (21 x 30 in) watercolour of pheasants in a field will adorn the front cover of the catalogue and is guided at £22500-27500. This has been in the Somerset vendor's family since 1900 and demonstrates superbly well Thorburn's remarkable skill at painting birds.
For the more modest collector, there are fishing rods and reels, hunting attire (saddlery, whips, buttons, hats, boots and coats etc), items of silver, jewelllery and ceramics for the country sportsman and numerous fascinating books with estimates from as little as £10.
Originally scheduled to take place at Halswell House near Bridgwater, the sale will now take place in the firm's spacious salerooms in Crewkerne. The prestigious venue is regrettably no longer available due to circumstances beyond the auctioneers' control as the owners of the house informed Lawrences very late in the day that they could no longer have use of the agreed facilities. Lawrences knows its clients will be disappointed and apologises for the change of venue. Viewing commences Friday, 21st November.
THE WEST COUNTRY SPORTING SALE
Over 1100 lots
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 25th at 10.00am at OUR CREWKERNE SALEROOMS
Sporting pictures & prints - Books - Taxidermy & Trophies - Bronzes -
Silver & Jewellery - Hunting Attire - Whips, Flasks & Horns - Shotguns -
Shooting Accessories - Fishing Rods & Reels - Archery & other sports
Viewing: Friday November 21st 9.00-5.00
Saturday November 22nd 9.30-5.00 (complimentary refreshments)
Monday November 24th 9.00-5.00
Sale day 9.00-10.00
Enquiries: Keith Amor