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Lawrences’ recent auction of jewellery in Crewkerne was another great success with scores of bids ensuring that many lots found new owners at prices above the auctioneers’ expectations. A small group of paste set buttons and buckles caught buyers’ eyes and were bought for £1400. and some lots containing amber beads also sold well with one necklace exceeding £1130. However, the top price for amber was paid for an eagerly contested ancient necklace. It was set with numerous tiny insects encased for eternity within the forty pale orange beads and exceeded its £4000-6000 estimate to take £14100.
Gold was bought very keenly despite a slight dip in the market, with a heavily-laden charm bracelet taking £1940 and a 9 carat cigarette case making £1540. Amongst the watches on offer, a gold Rolex Oyster made £1720 and a more modern lady’s 18 ct Automatic Oyster Datejust by Rolex was bought for £2710. A complementary gentleman’s watch was secured for £3330.
Highlights elsewhere included £5300 for a pair of diamond drop earrings; £2830 for a hand brooch made of gold, enamel and garnet; and £3940 for a Victorian diamond brooch pendant. The day’s top price was reserved for a truly spectacular diamond necklace that had passed down through the Lascelles family (related to the 5th Earl of Harewood). Formed of 37 graduated diamond clusters interspersed with as many foliate drops, it was presented in its original case and went above its £20000-30000 estimate to take £41950.
Lawrences’ auctions of Decorative Arts, Ceramics, Glass and Oriental Works of Art always contain a vast variety of objects, ranging from ancient Chinese artefacts and Japanese prints through to modern stained glass and Art Deco bronzes. Such sales attract a keen following and the recent sale in Crewkerne was no exception.
Highlights within the selection of Decorative Arts include £770 paid for an elegantly flared (but slightly damaged) 1960’s bowl by Lucie Rie; a collection of 21 pieces of geometric pottery from the popular Troika studios in Cornwall that made £1730; and a charmingly decorated pottery cat in the Galle style, the friendly feline depicted with a winningly eager expression that raised bids to £1070. The highest price was paid for a two stained glass `Arts & Crafts` panels attributed to Morris & Co, comprising one frame of 60 small glass panes (or `quarries`) and another of 12 panes. The designs included quaintly sinuous images of flowers, animals and insects in shades of amber and ochre and were bought for £4060.
Amongst the wide range of porcelain on offer, £780 was paid for a Chelsea Derby part tea service; £1370 for a first period Worcester tea bowl and saucer; £1670 for a small first period coffee can [image 1482]; and £1070 for a Meissen group of three figures. Strong bidding for Chinese porcelain yielded £3880 for a 17th Century `Kraak` Porcelain deep dish, £3820 for an onion-shaped vase of the Kangxi era (17th Century); and £2390 for a pair of blue and white saucer plates, probably Jiajing (mid-16th Century).
Collectors and dealers alike all adored a beautifully elegant flared Sevres cache pot, painted with exotic birds and scrolled floral panels upon a fresh pale turquoise ground. Dated to 1766, this 7-inch (19cm) pot soared to £41820 and led the day’s prices.
Lawrences’ Spring Auction in Crewkerne began on April 23rd with 800 lots of silver and vertu. The sale lasted six hours but there were highlights throughout and bidding was very brisk for items of the greatest rarity or curiosity. A handmade caddy spoon with an enamelled detail in the curled handle was made by the celebrated silversmith Omar Ramsden in 1927 – it made £1970. A modern shallow dish by the same maker from 1938 took £3340. From 1806, a pair of salts by similarly celebrated Georgian silversmith Paul Storr, made for 1st Lord Carrington, were bought for £2500. A rare and early tea caddy by Ebenezer Roe dated from 1712 and made £3340 whilst a highly decorative Victorian claret jug dated from 1886 and made £2740. A superb and complete Victorian dressing box, made by Ortner and Houle, bore the coronet of a Countess and was bought for £2980. Top prices were paid for small items of rarity and quality: a rare novelty vest case in the form of a stylised dog, just 2.5 in/ 6.5cm long, dated from 1907 and scampered away at £1130. A late 19th Century Middle Eastern silvergilt Esther scroll and holder caught collector’s eyes from across the world. It had a 7 inch/ 18cm long tubular octagonal body containing an illuminated parchment scroll (64 in/139cm in length), finely inscribed with minutely written Hebrew text. It was bought for £13140. A tiny (2.5 in/ 6cm) cast silver model of a snail, its base opening to show a vinaigrette dated from 1884. Its performance at auction belied the snail’s sluggish reputation for the little novelty raced up to £9800 before the hammer fell. The total for the day exceeded £240,000.
A remarkable variety came under the hammer at Lawrences’ recent auction of books, maps and manuscripts in Crewkerne.
Plenty of eager buyers chose to bid live via the internet and showed the usual passion amongst bibliophiles for items of rarity, quality, provenance and interest.
There was predictable local interest in John Hutchins’s `History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset` in four volumes which made £1010 but items of Polar interest attracted bids from further afield. Captain Scott’s `Voyage of the Discovery` included a personal, signed letter to Mrs Hammick and made £4540; a presentation copy of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s `South` detailing the extraordinary adventures of the `Endurance` expedition took £4540 too; and a rare prospectus for the same `Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition` included a signed letter from Shackleton and was bought for £4060.
Jane Austen’s `Novels` in five volumes from 1833 caught the market with perfect timing for the bi-centenary of the publication of her perennially popular masterpiece `Pride and Prejudice` and were bought for £4060; a first edition of Oscar Wilde’s controversial and problematic `Salome` from 1893 neared its top estimate to take £2330; whilst a vast quantity of papers relating to the Beague and St. John Mildmay family were making up to £1300 per lot. James Blackamore’s manuscript surveyor’s map of Pendomer near Yeovil from 1775 found local appeal to make £450.
The day’s two highest prices were paid for vastly dissimilar items. A Bible, printed in 1650, attracted keen interest. It contained 82 lavish full-page engraved plates and a further 92 smaller engraved illustrations, most with gold highlights. The Bible’s history could be traced back through the Cole family, the Ibbetson family and thence to General Fairfax of Denton who was, paradoxically, a supporter of the Restoration but an enemy of Charles I. Bound in 18th Century red morocco with elaborate gilt tooling, the Bible had sufficient appeal to make £16130. The day’s highest price was paid for a rare, inscribed first edition of Bram Stoker’s groundbreaking vampire novel, `Dracula` from 1897, given by the author to the playwright Lucy Clifford (1846-1929) upon its publication. The dazzling binding of mustard yellow cloth with lurid scarlet lettering would have made it eye-catching enough amongst the generally restrained bindings of late Victorian England but the content of the ghoulish volume has inspired film makers, writers and even cartoonists for over 110 years. Following intense bidding, the book was bought for £34650.