One of the UK's principal Fine Art Auctioneers, with General Sales,
Fine Art Sales, Collectors Sales and Sporting Sales
Whether you want to sell (or buy) diamonds and daggers, Meissen and mezzotints or toy trains and tribal art you will find that our specialists at Lawrences in the glorious West Country know just how to put the action into auctions. Using the latest marketing technology, we achieve the best prices.
With over 300 years of combined expertise, much of it learned in the London auction rooms, we make it our business to know lots about your lots.
See the video clip here of Lady Carnarvon and Helen Carless meeting to celebrate the happy event: https://youtu.be/Tyf7NyU83hc
A fascinating album of photographs, giving a glimpse of life in one of Britain’s most distinguished country seats, came to light recently.
The album contains 44 large mounted photographs of the house, staff and estate at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, immortalised in popular culture as the setting for the ITV series `Downton Abbey` as the home of the fictional `Earl of Grantham` but it is actually the home of the Earls of Carnarvon. The photographs, taken by J. W. Righton of Newbury, date from 1895 and include portraits of the newly married 5th Earl with his Countess, Almina as well as a photograph showing the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and other guests as well as the house staff. In addition, there are photographs of the grounds and the interior showing how Highclere was furnished and decorated in the 1890’s.
Returned to Highclere, following a private treaty sale, Lady Carnarvon says “I am thrilled that the photo album is coming home and it’s a very happy resolution orchestrated by Lawrences on behalf of the vendors. We do already have some of the photographs but it will be very interesting to cross reference the names of the guests and staff in a more complete fashion".
Helen Carless of Lawrences commented, “ Lawrences are delighted to have negotiated the private treaty sale that ensured that the album is now where it should be and all parties are extremely happy with the outcome”.
Consigned for sale by a Wiltshire gentleman whose ancestor acquired it while working as a solicitor in Shanghai in the early 20th century, it had spent the last thirty years on his brother’s mantelpiece. The instantly recognisable shape is associated with 18th Century design and the vase carried marks purporting to date the object to the reign of the Emperor Jiaqing (1760-1820). A swathe of pre-sale enquiries from around the world and a bank of telephone bidders on the day indicated that a strong price should be anticipated. However, when auctioneer Neil Grenyer opened the bidding, interest from online bidders rapidly exceeded £200,000 before those on the telephones and in the room, who were itching to bid on the vase, had their first opportunity to join in. At £240,000, there were still four bidders in contention - three on the telephone and one online – and the vase eventually sold to a Hong Kong- based dealer who was bidding over the telephone. THE TOTAL PRICE, INCLUDNG THE AUCTIONEERS' PREMIUM WAS JUST OVER £305,000
Part of the appeal of Lawrences' auctions of ceramics, glass and Oriental works of art is the remarkable variety on offer, comprising works from around the world that span many centuries of manufacture.
Highlights from the firm's recent sale reflect that: an extensive Mason's ironstone service just exceeded its estimate to take £1500; an English porcelain figure group, possibly Derby, depicted putti and made just over £3400; a George III glass wine bottle with a seal for `John Hancock 1791` was bid to £1150 by an American collector; and two collections of small Japanese netsukes in carved ivory made over £36000 with the top price of £8780 paid for a group that included a carved wooden tiger just 3cm high. The sale concluded on a high note as a Chinese libation cup, of a warm red/brown colour, finely carved from rhino horn and decorated with dragons and foliage, was contested by many Chinese bidders before the hammer fell at a price of £48,800.
When John and Patricia McKenzie began collecting vesta cases in the `960s, they could not have anticipated that they would eventually acquire over 2500 of the desirable little match holders. After half a century of keen buying, the first half of the collection went under the hammer at Lawrences in Crewkerne recently and met with keen enthusiasm from a new generation of devotees.
There were 1300 individual cases on offer in an enormous variety of types and styles. “There were gold vestas, enamelled silver vestas, figurals, the so-called ‘go-to-beds’, book match holders, matchbox holders, combination vestas, trick-opening vestas, Japanese & American vestas, glass, porcelain, bronze, brass, tin, celluloid wrap-arounds and French `naughty nineties` vestas - in fact just about every sort you can think of,” enthuses Alex Butcher, Lawrences’ specialist who had catalogued each and every one. “The inventiveness of the designers was remarkable. There were vesta cases in the shape of parasols, mussel shells, poodles, post boxes, tables, trousers, frogs, gloves, Prime Ministers, pigs, cricket bats and bullets.”
Carefully grouped into nearly 500 lots in order to maximise their appeal, the collection was nearly a sell out and top prices were paid for a silver case set with a small clock (£870); an enamelled silver example with a cricket scene (£1150); a 9-carat gold case for James Forman `Tod` Sloan, a leading jockey (£820); a silver case with an enamelled yacht decoration on the cover (£1220); and a silver case with a guardsman in a sentry box (£2560). An electroplated example in the form of an old crumpled boot showed how imaginative a vesta case could be and this marched its way to £120, whilst a rare vesta in the form of a stack of sixpences well exceeded its face value to take just over £600.