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Diamonds usually prove to be a `girl’s best friend` when it comes to jewellery auctions at Lawrences in Crewkerne – and prices were indeed strong in their recent 450-lot sale – but an unexpectedly good result for a more exotic lot provided the day’s top price.
Successes early in the sale included healthy prices once again for amber beads of all shapes and sizes: a necklace with graduated beads soared above the estimate to make £2560. An Art Deco lady’s platinum and enamel wristwatch by Cartier made £5490; while a gentleman’s steel Rolex also raced beyond its guide to make £2560. A skilfully designed and beautifully made Cartier clip in the form of two coral and diamond `sweethearts` upon a gold `bench`, the whole just 2.5 cm wide, made £6830 and a double row of graduated pearls (mixed cultured and natural specimens) made ten times their estimate when the hammer fell at £6580.
A sparkling array of diamonds was greeted with eager bids and top prices included a diamond solitaire at £2500, a 2.4 carat solitaire at £7680, another two-stone ring with 2.7 carats of diamonds at £7320 and £11100 for a stunning Art Deco diamond clip brooch with necklace conversion by Garrard & Co.
However, it was a Japanese shakudo set of jewellery that stole much of the sale’s glory. Shakudo is an finely made alloy of gold and copper, treated to resemble black lacquer. It is admired for its bronze-like sheen, the inventiveness of the method and the subtlety of the decorative effects that can be achieved by selective burnishing. The technique was wholly unfamiliar in the West until the middle of the 19th Century. The necklace and earrings in this lot depicted Oriental birds amongst foliage and the set was offered in a floral decorated lacquer box. Keen bids from this country and abroad pushed the lot beyond its estimate to make a remarkable £28060.
Ceramics and glass as well as Decorative Arts spanning five centuries was on offer in Lawrence’s recent auction in Crewkerne and the variety on offer attracted collectors from across the world bidding in the room, on the telephone and via the internet.
From the selection of Decorative Arts on offer, some remarkable prices reflected the strength in demand for good late 19th/20th Century design: a William de Morgan dish, not flawless but highly decorative nonetheless, made £1280; a Lalique car mascot of `Le Coq Nain` raced to £950; a carved wooden horse’s head from the Hagenauer Werkstatte (£2560) outran a Murano glass example by Loredano Rosin (£1830); a steel framed Winfield rocking chair with leather upholstery lulled bidders up to £1640; a bronze statuette of Cecil Rhodes by John Tweed took £2680; but a Lalique vase in the `Ceylan` design with frosted opalescent budgerigars fluttered beyond its estimate to settle at £4020. Even a Royal Copenhagen pigmy hippopotamus looked friendlier than its ferocity suggested when it made £370.
Strong results later in the sale included £1700 for a single green wine bottle with a heraldic seal £1700 also for a single tiny Worcester coffee cup, £1830 for a fine quality Derby plaque depicting a pointer dog espying game, £2680 for a Japanese komai work pot and cover for tea or similar, £3780 for a Chinese bronze incense burner and cover, £1950 for a pair of Cantonese famille rose vases and £4390 for a pair of famille rose `Gu` vases. The bold floral colours on this last item reflected the buoyant springlike mood of the sale as a whole and one of the day’s last lots – a Qianlong blue and white vase - also doubled hopes when it made £2920.
Over 700 lots of silver and objects of vertu came under the hammer at Lawrences in Crewkerne recently and there was keen bidding throughout the six hour auction. Amongst hundreds of lots of cutlery was a set of three spoons by Maurice Fitzgerald of Limerick, c.1785, that were scooped up for £2560; twelve large Edwardian salts by S. B. Harman, 1908, with a dozen earlier spoons, were bought for £7000 and a Victorian coffee set with tray, with Renaissance-style corded decoration, was bid to £3660.
A deceptively simple but elegantly proportioned wine goblet dated from the reign of James I (1619) made £8290 and a set of four entree dishes and covers by the celebrated Georgian silversmith Paul Storr exceeded hopes to make £11460. Exceptional craftsmanship is invariably appealing to silver buyers and two stirrup cups in the form of the head of a whippet and a wolfhound were superbly detailed. After some spirited and determined bidding, the two made a combined total of just over £20000 with the wolfhound just making the higher price.
Small silver is perennially popular and Nathaniel Mills’ meticulous `castletop` card cases have consistent appeal. One 1850 example depicted the Four Courts in Dublin and the Irish interest undoubtedly boosted its price to £4140. A small vinaigrette showing the chain-link pier in Brighton finely engraved upon its cover was chased to £1830 whilst the whimsical appeal of a carved and painted wooden nutcracker in the form of a sailor did exactly what nutcrackers are meant to do: it shattered what was put on it to make a cracking £1830. The day totalled over £300,000 with little left unsold.