One of the UK's principal Fine Art Auctioneers, with General Sales,
Fine Art Sales, Collectors Sales and Sporting Sales
One of the most ghoulishly fascinating books of the 19th Century was Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, the Gothic story of the vampire Count Dracula and his attempt to move from Transylvania (central Romania) to England. Said by some to be the most famous novel of its kind ever published, Stoker (1847-1912) based the book upon years of research into grisly details of European folklore but he intended it to be only a “straightforward horror novel.” Such was its ghoulish appeal upon publication in May 1897 that it spawned an entire fantasy culture of its own and the story has been endlessly re-interpreted in film, art, cartoons and even comic books.
A rare first edition of the celebrated work is being offered for sale at Lawrences in Crewkerne. The gaudy yellow cover, decorated solely with the title and the author’s name in bright red (but lightly marked by the informal ring of an old coffee mug), belies the darkly savage themes within. It is inscribed by the author to Mrs W K Clifford, better known as Lucy Clifford (1846-1929), a novelist, playwright and a popular figure in literary circles of the day. Clifford was a friend of writers such as Henry James, Rudyard Kipling and Sir Leslie Stephen. As recently as the 1980’s, Stoker’s original handwritten manuscript was found in a Pennsylvania barn. That sheaf of papers bore the book’s original title of “The Un-Dead”. Nowadays, the renown of this work arises from the gruesome associations engendered by its famous title and this volume, rare and desirable for being such a pivotal work of literature, is expected to realise £8000-12000.
A book with a fascinating history will be offered at Lawrences in Crewkerne on January 31st.
Oscar Wilde’s play, Salome, is one of his most famous works but it encountered controversy right from the start.
The play was initially published in French and then Wilde’s lover provided a translation in 1894, a copy of which is in Lawrences’ sale. Wilde was happy to credit Lord Alfred with the translation but the two men had squabbled at length about the quality of the translation itself: Douglas blamed Wilde for his poor French and Wilde bit back by criticising Douglas’s skills. Then the book’s illustrator, Aubrey Beardsley, became involved and sided with Wilde.
Wilde eventually reworked the whole translation himself and grudgingly allowed Lord Alfred a brief credit. Douglas was not grateful for this concession and likened it to being given `a receipt from a tradesman`. Wilde defended himself with his usual smugness by stating that ` I have one instrument that I know I can command, and that is the English language. There was another instrument to which I had listened all my life, and I wanted once to touch this new instrument to see whether I could make any beautiful thing out of it`.
Rehearsals began in 1892 with the intention of including it in Sarah Bernhardt’s London season. However, the Lord Chamberlain’s licensor intervened and banned the production for the curious reason that it was not permitted to depict Biblical characters upon the stage. In Mark’s gospel, Salome had cut off the head of John the Baptist upon her mother’s request and presented it to her stricken father, Herod.
Wilde was in prison when the play eventually reached the stage in Paris in February 1896. The Lord Chamberlain’s original censoring of the play was not repealed for forty years and the play was performed only privately in England until a production at the Savoy Theatre in October 1931 revealed it to a public audience for the first time.
The volume at Lawrences is a first edition from a print run of 500 copies and it bears an inscription as a Christmas gift to Edith Harmer. Beardsley’s elegant and sinuous illustrations enhance the appeal of the small volume and it carries an estimate of £1000-2000.
One hundred years after their breathtaking courage and bravery in the world’s most dangerous environment, the names of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton define between them the valour and the tragedy of `Heroic Age` of Antarctic exploration from 1900 to 1920. Two remarkable lots in Lawrences’ forthcoming auction of books and manuscripts on January 31st will attract worldwide attention from Polar enthusiasts. Scott’s two-volume account of the `Voyage of the Discovery` was published in 1905 and describes the daring 960-mile sledge journey across a desert of ice to achieve a point within a mere 470 miles of the South Pole. Scott, accompanied by Dr. Edward Wilson and Shackleton, struggled back to base camp with Shackleton suffering from debilitating scurvy. Scott promptly sent his invalid companion home upon their safe return to base at McMurdo Sound and Shackleton never forgave his former ally for the perceived disloyalty. Scott’s account of the whole saga, signed and inscribed to a certain Mrs Hannick, is accompanied by a personal letter from him and the lot is valued at £2500-3000.
Shackleton’s own expedition to attempt to cross Antarctica in 1914-1917 is related in vivid detail in his book `South`, a signed copy of which is offered at £800-1000. In addition, a very rare prospectus for that celebrated expedition on the ill-fated `Endurance` was found amongst a bundle of books consigned to Lawrences’ general sale. Within it, a signed letter from Shackleton to the wealthy Midlands industrialist, J. Leslie Wright, written in June 1914 shortly before the departure of the `Endurance`, was discovered and this letter appealed for funds and contributions to the cash-strapped expedition. After a perilous beginning, Shackleton’s ship was soon broken up in crushing ice before it even reached landfall on the Antarctic continent and the extraordinary account of how `The Boss` delivered his 27 men to safety after 16 months lost in the brutal freezing desolation of the snowy wastes of the Weddell Sea makes gripping reading. This fascinating and very scarce printed manuscript in a soft paper cover, detailing the optimistic methods and ambitious aims of the hapless expedition, is guided at £2000-2500 [image].
A Moorcroft Vase is to be sold by Lawrences Auctioneers of Crewkerne.
Entered by a Somerset Client, the Vase is painted in the Eventide design and was made in the 1920’s. With elongated trees and a landscape design, this pattern is particularly popular with collectors.
Lawrences Auctioneer Simon Jones said, “Moorcroft continues to be extremely popular in auction with collectors in the UK and overseas, and in particular items that were made in the early part of the 20thc”
The vase will be sold in Lawrences January Fine Art, and is expected to make £800-1200 in auction. For further details about this sale please contact Simon Jones on 01460 73041.
A rare set of World War II posters are to be sold by Lawrences Auctioneers of Crewkerne.
The suite is entitled ‘Seeing it Through’ and the posters depict a Policeman, a Tube Station Porter, a Bus Driver, a Bus Conductor, and a Firefighter. They were commissioned by London Transport in 1944 and were intended to commemorate the acts of heroism made by Civilian workers during the war. The images were designed by Eric Henri Kennington and are accompanied by poems from Patrick Herbert. “These posters appear very rarely on the market but other examples are held in the collection of The London Transport Museum,” comments Lawrences’ specialist, Simon Jones. “We expect this set of six posters to make £1500-2500 in auction.”
The posters will be sold in Lawrences Spring Collectors Sale, in May 2013, but another vendor has consigned for sale an original pastel by Kennington depicting three gallant knights. This drawing was exhibited in 1943 and embraces a similar theme of bravery and chivalry amongst the auxiliary workers in the War effort. The drawing will be in the January 18th auction and will carry an estimate of £1500-2500.
A rare early work by one of the leading portrait painters of the 20th Century will be offered at Lawrences in Crewkerne in their January Fine Art sale. Sir John Lavery was born in Belfast in 1856 but he studied art in Glasgow before moving to London and then to France. In later years he bought a house called Dar El Midfar in Tangiers. “Not surprisingly, these travels gave a remarkable international flavour to his art,” says Lawrences’ picture specialist, Richard Kay. “He enjoyed an immensely successful career as a fashionable society portraitist, working in a fluent, ostentatious style not unlike that of John Singer Sargent.” In his autobiography, written when he was 84 and published in the years before his death, Lavery hinted at regret by saying that `I have felt ashamed of having spent my life trying to please sitters and make friends instead of telling the truth and making enemies.`
None of that cynicism is apparent in the early work to be sold at Lawrences, painted when Lavery was still in his early twenties. It shows a lady in a white dress descending a flight of rustic garden steps. It has come from the collection of a Dorset gentleman who acquired it about forty years ago when Lavery’s work in the commercial doldrums. “It is signed and dated 1880, and so can be identified as one of the earliest works he painted after his first oils were exhibited at the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts,” explains Richard. “It compares very closely with a smaller picture called `Waiting` in a Scottish public collection but our painting is a little more refined than that picture. It seems clear that Lavery was learning fast. Within a year, he had left London for the prestigious Academie Julian in Paris where his art developed an even more impressive style and a distinct French flavour. Here, Lavery has captured an enigmatic expression of uneasy concern or slight trepidation in the sitter’s face. Victorian collectors would have loved to devise an anecdotal interpretation for this picture and we hope that Lavery collectors will find a similar appeal in this elegant subject when it is sold in January.” This picture, which measures 45 by 29cm, has been recently authenticated by the leading expert on Lavery’s work, Professor Kenneth McConkey, and will be offered with an estimate of £2000-3000.
“You have to be prepared to be surprised in the auction business,” admits Richard Gold at Lawrences in Crewkerne. “I was very puzzled to see such a quantity of these objects, never having sold any before.”
Richard is referring to a collection of over 600 metal moulds for casting handles on Regency horsedrawn carriages. Each is in the form of a shallow dish, shaped within so that, when pressed into sand, a brass or silver handle for a carriage may be cast from the indentation. A central loop handle would be added later and some have central blanks for adding customers’ own crests or special armorials. These all date from the Regency era, a period of brisk business for carriage makers,” says Richard. “The advent of the motor car forced the inevitable demise of carriage building and many of these moulds would have been thrown away. A specialist firm in the Adelphi, Strand, London kept this hoard in case they needed precise moulds for general maintenance and repair of historical carriages. Sadly, the premises were bombed during the Blitz but these were salvaged from the ruins. They can be used nowadays for making distinctive belt buckles, curtain tie backs, ornamental fittings and any appliqué design.” Richard Gold has sorted the collection into half a dozen lots, arranged by size and complexity of design. Each lot will carry an estimate of just £50-100. “They are small, simple items that form a curious throwback to a long lost age,” says Richard. “Part of their appeal is their unfamiliarity but the care and detail taken to ensure availability of such a vast variety of designs is remarkable.”
A lovely collection of Wemyss Pottery including various Pigs, are to be sold by Lawrences Auctioneers of Crewkerne.
The Wemyss Pottery was started in 1882 in Scotland, and produced hand painted pottery. They produced a huge diversity of items, but are particularly well known for their animal figures, most famously pigs.
This collection of pottery originally belonged to Henry Stocks, who worked at the factory in the late 19th and early 20th century, before emigrating to Australia in 1927. Having passed through the family, the pottery was purchased in Australia in the 1990’s, and is appearing in auction for the first time.
It includes four Pigs, including one large example which is extremely sought after.
Lawrences Auctioneer Simon Jones said, “Wemyss Pottery has always remained very popular, and there are collectors both in the UK and overseas.”
These items will be sold in Lawrences January Fine Art Sale, with estimates ranging from £200-£1000. For further details about this sale please contact Simon Jones on 01460 73041.
Lawrences' sale of ceramics and glass in Crewkerne next month includes some fine items from Europe and the Far East. A pair of Chinese figures of hawks from the 1770's were made for the burgeoning export market of the Georgian era and museum quality examples have made as much as £40,000. "Sadly, these birds have each suffered a little damage to their wings (when they were made to fit into a display cabinet) and so the estimate is now a much more affordable £2000-3000," explains Director Richard Gold [see image 1426]. On a similar bird theme, a pair of Staffordshire sauce tureens are modelled as pigeons on nests. "Unlike some crude pottery examples, these are particularly well modelled and the best pieces were usually made in porcelain so it's an extra bonus to find such a good pair still intact," notes Richard. "We are hoping for about £2000 for them." For the rich connoisseur, a pair of cut glass urns for caviar stand 16 inches (41 cm) high. "These are guided at £400-600 but they would hold literally thousands of pounds' worth of caviar," judges Richard.
The Wemyss factory in Fife has become almost exclusively associated with its distinctive, personable pottery pigs and Lawrences' sale contains four pleasing porkers in various sizes and patterns [see image 78]. The factory was founded in Fife in 1892 and named for nearby Wemyss Castle. It flourished for 40 years before closing down during the Great Depression and business transferred subsequently to Bovey Tracey in Devon when it thrived for another 25 years. "Wemyss ware has always had an uniquely lighthearted appeal, "comments Lawrences' specialist, Simon Jones. "It is hard not to smile at these plump cream pigs with their bizarre floral patterns in shades of pink and green. Each was once owned by Henry Stocks who worked for Wemyss in its early years. Estimates range from £200 to £1000 for the biggest example." The sale will be held on January 17th.
Some exceptional pieces of jewellery will be highlights in Lawrences' major auction in Crewkerne next month.
A mid-19th Century Italian gold and micromosaic locket pendant bears the town mark for Rome and will certainly catch the eyes of eager Italian collectors. The oval pendant is set with a finely detailed image of a beetle and is expected to make £1800-2200. Diamonds feature prominently in the 400-lot sale and continue to attract similar international attention. A diamond brooch set with a fancy blue diamond that weighs just over a carat is guided at £6000-8000. "The diamond has been treated to enhance its superb colour," comments Lawrences' jewellery specialist, Miranda Bingham. "A natural blue diamond would be worth a great deal more but this stone now has a most appealing colour and we expect it to sell well." On a similar theme, a diamond brooch pendant in the form of a gently tied ribbon is set with numerous diamonds and has carefully flexed sections on the ribbon. This is expected to make £4500-6500. The top lot in this selection is a superb 18th Century diamond foliate brooch pendant, accompanied by a gemmological report stating the quality of the diamond. This elegant piece is estimated at £10,000-15,000. "The precise technical details in a gemmological report always reassure bidders," notes Miranda. "Also, now that natural pearls are in such demand again, an x-ray report will determine whether a pearl is natural or cultured. These scientific tests have become a vital element in the sale of fine jewellery."
The most valuable lot in the jewellery sale is expected to be a magnificent necklace from which hangs a huge uncut spinel, assessed at over 50 carats [see image 1127]. "Spinel is rarely found in such a size," comments Miranda. "We believe that this piece is of Mughal origin. Spinel was often mistaken for ruby and the `Black Prince's Ruby` in the Crown Jewels is actually a spinel. It can be found in pure cranberry reds and also in crisp shades of deep blue so that it may also be mistaken for a sapphire. This remarkable stone is approximately the size of a walnut and we are hoping that it will make £20,000-30,000. As you can see from our estimate, spinel is now a stone collected for its own beautiful properties and is no longer referred to as a `Balas ruby`, the old name for the finest red examples of this magnificent stone."
In addition, the sale will include scores of rings, earrings, brooches, wristwatches, pocket watches and popular mixed lots of affordable semi-precious/costume jewellery with estimates from about £100.
Lawrences' forthcoming Fine Art auction in Crewkerne will include the usual broad-based selection of picture and prints with good and interesting works spanning four centuries.
The prints on offer include works by artists as varied as George Stubbs, Walter Sickert, Elisabeth Frink and David Hockney but a lithograph of a boxing match should attract collectors' eyes. It depicts a celebrated bare-knuckle contest between Tom Sayers and J. C. Heenan on April 17th 1860. The two men contested the heavyweight title for two hours and battled it out for a vicious and gruelling 37 rounds. The fight was declared a draw and each man was awarded a belt for his efforts. The estimate for this historical subject is £500-700. A skilfully made 1920's etching of `London Bridges` by the highly collectable artist C. R. W. Nevinson is guided at £2000-3000.
Amongst the watercolours, a view of a monastery has been identified as a work by George Chinnery and depicts a scene in Macao where the artist lived and worked from 1825 to 1852. It was found amongst a group of assorted works compiled by a Devon collector and is expected to make £2000. The highlights are two superb watercolours of Windsor and Eton by the `father of English watercolour drawing', Paul Sandby (1730-1809). Sandby depicted the town from various viewpoints over a period of fifty years and these two panoramas show his superb draughtsmanship, his eye for a good composition and his love of engaging details that focus the attention and show everyday life in the town in the 1770's. These two works are expected to make in excess of £10000 each [see image].
In the oil paintings, there is a fine view of Venice, showing the church of Santa Maria della Salute, painted by an artist in the style of Jacopo Fabris (1689-1761), estimated at £2500-3500 and there are two scenes of more local West Country appeal. One picture by Fred Whitehead shows an atmospheric view of Wareham Harbour in Dorset (£1200-1800). Whitehead travelled around Dorset in his gypsy caravan in the early years of the 20th Century and sold many of his pictures to local collectors. A scene of the Exmoor Vale Hunt at Webber's Post above Porlock is by the keenly collected Exmoor artist, Alexander Carruthers Gould and dates from between the wars (£500-700). Like Whitehead, many of Gould's pictures were bought by Somerset folk for just a few pounds each.
On a lighter note, a group of pictures from a descendant of Charles Cundall RA includes an oil painting of someone being given a face pack. The nonchalant sitter reads a book as the thick green mask is applied. This little oil will be sold with other works in a lot guided at £300-500.
Lawrences’ silver and vertu sale on January 15th will be proof that good things come in small packages. Some of the most interesting lots in the 730-lot sale would fit in the palm of a hand: there is a small silver gilt box in the form of a Life Guard’s helmet, just 1.5” long (£150-200); a `Castle Top` snuff box, featuring York Minster, by Victorian master Nathaniel Mills, 3.25” wide (£600-800); a telescopic pencil in the form of a tiny standing boar, 2.5” long (£300-350); a silver gilt menu holder in the form of a cat’s head, 1.25” high (£100-200); a pepperette in the form of a rabbit or hare, 2.5” long (£250-300)); a silver gilt boudoir timepiece in a Cartier case, just 1.7” high (£600-800); a vesta holder in the form of a rhinoceros at a massive 3.9” long (£200-300); and a smoker’s compendium in the form of a punt on small wheels, with a tiny chair for resting one’s cigar upon, 8.7” long (£600-800).
In addition, there are portrait miniatures no bigger than a credit card with estimates ranging from £50 to £1000 and a handsome meerschaum pipe carved as a lion’s head, 3.5” long (£200-250). One of the highlights is expected to be a Russian gold oval pendant of the Virgin and Child, made by Henrik Wigstrom of St.Petersburg in 1908-1917. Wigstrom worked for the distinguished jewellers Faberge and this little gem, just 1.5” high and weighing under half an ounce, carries an estimate of £1200-1500.
Collectors who like a little more heft in their silver will be attracted to a 25 oz George I tankard by William Darker, 1720 (£1400-1800); an early Queen Anne tankard by Margaret Ramsey of Newcastle, 1702 (£2000-3000); and to a similar tankard by John Langlands of Newcastle, 1771 (£3000-3500). An impressive group of meat dishes by Robert Garrard weighs 154 oz and the largest will be big enough for next Christmas’s turkey at 22” long (£4500-5000 for four dishes). A George III tea urn by Messrs Chawner & Emes dates from 1797 and evokes perfectly the elegance of a Georgian tea party. It weighs in at 121 oz and stands just under 18 inches in height. It is expected to take £3500. Why not measure its contents with a caddy spoon by Thomas Watson of Newcastle, c.1800 (£70-80).
Lawrences’ forthcoming auction of furniture and works of art will comprise the usual variety of fascinating lots with estimates from a few hundred pounds up to many thousands. There is a fine skeleton clock with a three train movement striking on a rack of eight bells and a gong (£2000-3000); an oil painting of a village scene but with a small working clock set into the church tower (£800-1200); and an unusual pipe track, mounted with cold painted bronze figures of a ferocious dog and a pugnacious cat (£300-350).
However, two high quality lots of furniture are expected to attract keen interest from collectors. A superb pair of late George III burr wood and amboyna sofa tables were formerly at Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire and were a gift from Lord and Lady Leigh to the vendor. Each table is finished to a very high standard,” observes Richard Gold, Lawrences’ Director. “There is finely detailed ebony stringing on the top, carefully carved supports, neatly fitted frieze drawers and two false drawers.” These are estimated at £8000-10,000.
Another interesting lot is expected to be a tripod table by George Bullock (1777-1818) [see image]. Bullock was born in Birmingham but established a highly successful practice in Liverpool, where his careful attention to quality of craftsmanship became his trademark. This table is made of bog oak (ancient wood preserved from decay by hundreds of years submerged in peat bogs) and has brass inlay. It may be compared with a `circular table of bog oak from the Isle of man enriched with inlaid brass` that is recorded in Bullock’s accounts for November 1814 and it is possible that the commission can be linked to the Duke of Atholl whose ancestors on the Isle of Man had developed a fondness for works fashioned from bog oak. This table, from a Devon vendor, carries an estimate of £3000-5000
***Christmas & New Year Opening Times***
Friday 21st December - 9.00 am – 3.00 pm
*Early Closing & Last Day Before Christmas & New Year Break*
Monday 24th December - Closed
Tuesday 25th December - Closed
Wednesday 26th December - Closed
Thursday 27th December - Closed
Friday 28th December - Closed
Monday 31st December - Closed
Tuesday 1st January - Closed
Wednesday 2nd January - Re-Open
N.B. THERE WILL BE NO SALE ON WEDNESDAY 2ND.
THE FIRST GENERAL SALE IN THE NEW YEAR WILL BE ON THE 9th JANUARY.