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Lawrences Auctioneers of Crewkerne have been conducting popular valuation mornings at the Grosvenor Arms Hotel in Shaftesbury for a few months (1st Tuesday of each month, 9.30-12.00noon) and have been delighted by the quality and variety of items brought in for assessment and advice. The firm’s specialist in militaria, coins and stamps, Jeffrey Day, was particularly pleased to secure for sale recently a collection of important medals formed by General Sir Robert Bray GBE, KCB, DSO and bar (1908-1983). The collection was brought in to Shaftesbury for evaluation and forms the backbone of the auctioneers’ spring sale of militaria.
Bray served with distinction in India, Korea and Europe and was appointed Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of Europe in 1967, at which time he was also serving as aide de camp to HM The Queen. Family connections with the Army date back to The Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. It was as a result of Bray’s loyalty to this last regiment that the collection was formed as he attempted to amass medals and decorations for each conflict with which the regiment was involved. Amongst the medals consigned for sale, divided into 61 lots, there are Military General Service Medals (estimates from £700-1000), eagerly sought Waterloo Medals (£2000-2500), Army of India Medals (£1000-1500), Crimean Medals and Indian Mutiny Medal (£200-250). African campaigns are reflected in Abyssinian Medals (£350-1000), Boer War Medals (£250-500) and Rhodesian Campaigns (£400-600). Gallantry medals awarded to the regiment include a Distinguished Conduct Medal group of seven (£1000-1500), another DCM with bar (£1000-1500), Military Medals (£250-500) and Long Service Medals (to the 33rd Foot) (£50-150). Jeff Day anticipates that there will be opportunities for collectors at every level as estimates range from just £50 to over £2000.
Medals from other sources include examples awarded to the Colonel of the King’s Dragoon Guards (£3000-4000), the Colonel of the Denbighshire Yeomanry (£600-800), a CBE group of five to a Dover Patrol Destroyer Captain (£450-550) and Great War Medals earned whilst serving with the Cavalry Division (£300-400). Bray assembled his remarkable collection by watching for relevant decorations coming up for sale after he retired in 1971. He was well known and very highly respected for his knowledge and his enthusiasm for his subject as he sought out `anything to do with the 33rd` at medal fairs around the country. He had also made additions to his collection at Lawrences and his detailed records show that he was making purchases at the Crewkerne firm in the 1970’s. The collection was kept at Bray’s home in splendid fitted display cases. To Jeff Day’s delight, it comprises about as fine a survey of one man’s devotion to the glories and honours of a regiment as he has ever had the pleasure to handle. “We expect considerable interest in this collection,” he said. “Medals with such good provenance are always in keen demand and these are a tribute to a loyal soldier’s passion across a period of many years as they reflect the regiment’s endeavours across two centuries.” The collection will be sold on Thursday May 1st
In commemoration of the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, Lawrences’ militaria auction in November later this year will include a further large quantity of medal groups, badges and poignant `sweetheart` brooches. Jeff Day is inviting entries for a section of the sale with a World War 1 theme. After a lifetime’s interest in the British at war, Jeff has visited the battlefields and Commonwealth graves and his own knowledge of (and admiration for) the men who served in the `war to end all wars` ensures that the November auction will offer items of historical importance and touchingly sentimental significance right across the board. Entries are invited until late September and Jeff can be contacted for advice, information and valuations at the Crewkerne salerooms on (01460) 73041
A group of three Victorian drinking glasses in Lawrences’ forthcoming auction in Crewkerne is expected to catch the eyes of glass collectors.
Two rummers date from the 1850’s and were engraved in meticulously detailed diamond point by Thomas Sutherland. “Sutherland’s work as a glass engraver was discussed in Barbara Morris’s definitive book on `Victorian Table Glass and Ornaments` but even she was able to learn of only a dozen examples worldwide,” says Richard Gold at Lawrences. “One of the rummers dates from 1853 and bears two detailed Royal coats of arms and further vignettes of a paddle steamer, a stage coach, a sailing boat and a view of Windsor Castle alongside sentimental verses (estimate £500-600). Another has three elaborate Royal coats of arms and similarly sentimental poetry with a date for 1853 (estimate £400-500).”
The most interesting example, however, is a humble tumbler engraved with Masonic insignia and romantic verses, also decorated by Thomas Sutherland. It is dedicated to James Woods of the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards in Montreal. “A particular fascination for glass collectors is that this piece dates from July 29th 1839 and thus predates the earliest known dated piece of glass by a full eight years (estimate £200-250). Morris’s book illustrated the earliest known dated glass (1847) but despite the historical significance of dated glasses, little is known of the mysterious Sutherland whose life and skilful work seems to be almost entirely unrecorded,” says Richard Gold. “We are anticipating interest from English glass collectors as well as interest from Canada and perhaps even the Grenadier Guards.”
Lawrences’ forthcoming auction of jewellery and watches on April 10th contains the usual wide variety of lots with estimates ranging from just £100 to over £10,000. Highlights include a Victorian hardstone cameo ring, inscribed on the inside with a dedication to Dr. Warden from the passengers of the ship `Ironside` in 1878 , estimated at £250-300. The vessel carried exhibits to the Paris Exhibition in 1878 and it is thought that the ring was one of those exhibits. A lot comprising a heavy Georgian gold long guard chain with matching bracelets was once owned by Mary Chetwynd, the wife of Major William Fawkener Chetwynd. The jewellery is estimated at £4000-6000. Portraits of this couple, with Mrs Chetwynd wearing the jewellery, are also included in the sale at £400-600.
There is a fine quality gold, enamel and gem set pendant in Holbeinesque style, dating from c.1870 and a magnificent Victorian diamond brooch, set with an old brilliant-cut fancy yellow diamond. This is expected to lead the lots on offer with an estimate of £8000-10000. The sale contains 450 lots, including items of amber and coral, wristwatches, cufflinks and gemstones of every variety including sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, opals, jade and pearls. It can be viewed on Lawrences’ website (www.lawrences.co.uk) with images of every lot.
Almost 650 lots of silver went under the hammer on the first day of Lawrences’ Spring Fine Art auction on April 8th. Collectors showed themselves to be keen on buying at every level of the market and prices were strong across the board with little left unsold.
An unusual early 19th Century marrow scoop set the tone of the day early on by making four times its estimate (£690), largely on the strength of its appealing Maltese origin. A sugar bowl and cover of similar origin made £2270 after keen competition. An English spoon from the reign of King James I (1605) by Martin Cottrell of London made £2500 whilst a German parcelgilt beaker and cover from the later 17th Century exceeded hopes of £700 to make £2740 and a silver mounted wooden goblet from the 1680’s took £1250. An unassuming little condiment ladle from 1817 made £450, largely because it was by the pre-eminent Regency silversmith Paul Storr.
Novelty pieces or items of unusual shape are always in demand amongst collectors, so a mustard pot in the form of a hot air balloon was always destined to take off. Against an estimate of £600-800, it floated up to £2330. Another mustard pot in the form of an owl swooped to £1190 and an inch-long fob seal, possibly 16th Century got the stamp of approval from bidders as it made £1910. A little Edwardian pincushion in the form of a rollerskate and boot fitted a collector perfectly and sold within its estimate at £220
Nathaniel Mills was the most desirable maker of card cases in the early 1840’s and his 1843 `castletop` case showing Windsor castle made £1010. Snuff boxes sold well, too, with a finely decorated silvergilt box by William Eley (1809) also making £1010, a plainer George II example by Robert Cox (1754) made £650 and a George III box from 1809 had theatrical appeal to admirers of a much-loved and celebrated actor manager John Lawrence Toole (1830-1906), to whom it was dedicated (£1490).
Two late 18th Russian silvergilt vodka cups, each barely 1.5 inches high, took the day’s top price at £7170. After the hammer fell, the buyer and the seller might each have welcomed the use of a 19th Century lacquered Chinese fan that was carried to £1430.
Lawrences’ Spring Fine Auctions go on view on Friday April 4th and comprise over 2200 lots to be sold across three days.
“We love to offer a wide variety in these auctions, “ says the Crewkerne firm’s managing director, Helen Carless. “In addition to dealers who are looking for quality stock for forthcoming fairs and are seeking items of rarity and distinction for £5000 and more, we have many local private collectors who are hoping to add something appealing to their collection for just a few hundred pounds.”
The week’s auctions will begin with silver and objects of vertu on Tuesday April 8th. A James I silver spoon from 1605 is guided at £500-700 and a collection of sixty snuffboxes and card cases includes some examples by Nathaniel Mills (estimates from £150-800). A very rare 18th Century German quartz snuff box is expected to make £6000-7000 and is of jewel-like quality.
Jewellery itself will dominate proceedings on Thursday April 10th and a fabulous diamond solitaire ring with a mighty 2.4 carat stone will be estimated at £12000-18000. Other lots of rings, brooches, necklaces, cufflinks, wristwatches as well as appealing mixed lots will provide a fine supporting cast with estimates from just £100 up to £10,000. In the afternoon, a rare stained glass panel by Harry Clarke is expected to attract keen interest from his Irish homeland whilst an engraved glass by Thomas Sutherland may prove to be one of the earliest dated drinking glasses on record as it is dated 1839 . An 18th Century Chinese plate from the reign of Emperor Yongzheng is decorated with a beautifully subtle pale green glaze (£1000-1500).
On Friday April 11th, highlights will include an atmospheric late watercolour of Ilfracombe by John Martin (£8000-12000), a fine oil painting of the Virgin and Child by Otto van Veen, derived from a subject by Raphael (£7000-9000) and good portraits from the Earls of Barrymore and the Smith-Barry family, formerly of Fota in County Cork. Quality furniture from this same source will round off the week’s events. Hopes are high for an Indo-Portuguese hardwood table cabinet with decorative inlays (£1500-2000) a polychrome lacquered longcase clock with Chinoiserie decoration by William Webster (£3000-4000) and a fine room-sized Ushak carpet (£600-1000).
In addition, there will be an auction of over 750 lots of general decorative antiques on Wednesday April 9th so there will be 3000 lots in total, across four busy days of sales.