Friday 15th December, 2017
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Summer Fine Art Sale Results

Ivory boxCarved ivory seemed to be catching of the eyes of the keenest collectors at Lawrences' recent fine art sale and contributed some of the highest prices to a very successful auction.

The carved relief of the daed Christ, bought at a sale of goods from a captured pirate vessel in the 1820's and featured previously on these pages, led the day at an astonishing £11,980 (paid by a private collector in London) whilst a fine quality Chinese ivory workbox, elaborately carved and fitted with an assortment of bobbins and sewing items, was bought for £7400 (see illustration).

Similarly, an 18th Century carved ivory back panel from a tobacco rasp (used for shredding tobacco for one's pipe) attracted keen bids to take £1290 and two lots of miniatures painted on ivory made £1700 (for a pair by Thomas Hargreaves, circa 1833) and £490 (for an Anglo-Indian portrait of a lady, circa 1845).

A James I seal top spoon from 1620 made just under £1000 and a private collection of 58 document seals, split into thirteen lots, made £1510.A Victorian posy holder with a painted porcelain handle made £2050.

The jewellery selection comprised some stunning rings and a ruby and diamond cluster ring took £2930 whilst an Indian gem set pendant brooch designed as two peacocks and set with precious stones was bid up to £1520.

Amongst the ceramics, a Staffordshire dessert service by Baddeleys of Shelton made £2110 and a charming group of four Meissen figures realised £3050.

In the Oriental section, a set of five Kakiemon blue and white plates dated from the early part of the 18th Century and were bought for £1175.


Books, Maps and Manuscripts

Books and mapsIn Lawrences' recent sale in Crewkerne a remarkable book, printed in the reign of King George II, offered readers a blend of recipes and sensible domestic management that makes us all sound like very healthy eaters by comparison today.

Entitled "The Whole Duty of a Woman", the 1737 volume runs to nearly 700 pages and describes how a lady should address issues such as religion, modesty, affability and meekness as well as "The Duty of Virgins" and "A Wife's Behaviour to a Drunkard".

Most fascinating, though, are the numerous recipes for dishes as tempting as pistachio cream, cheese cakes, rice custards, spinach tarts and bread and butter pudding. Some are not so tempting: carp pie, pickled pigeon, boiled tench and roast udder sound unappealing and "Roast Cod's Head" cooked in an oven "for four or five hours" sounds inedible.

Appetites were huge in 1737 if the recipe for "Cow Heel Pottage" is to be believed: "put in your pot seven or eight pounds of buttock of beef, a leg of mutton, three or four pounds of veal, the knuckle of a ham, add fowl, partridge..." and so on.

The book attracted keen interest before selling to a specialist dealer for £3870.

Elsewhere in the auction of books, there were keen bids for a Saxton map of Northamptonshire printed in 1576 that took £1410 and Tallis's Illustrated Atlas of 1851 that contained 79 maps and realised £2170.

A curious poem from 1740 entitled "Advice to The Ladies" was printed in 1740 "on the Icy Thames". These "ice prints" are incredibly rare and were printed as novelties when the Thames froze by taking a press out onto the ice. No other examples have appeared at auction - this one was found in the bottom of a Somerset trunk and made £2930.

The collection of the late Wilfred Potter of Thorncombe near Chard, a pupil of C. S. Lewis at Oxford in the 1940's, was a tribute to his love of scholarship and learning. The many volumes from his estate had been read from cover to cover in his tiny cottage that had no modern conveniences.

Books ranged from Amundsen's conquering of the South Pole (£760) to George Catlin's account of the manners of North American Indians (£340) as well as obscure and erudite works on algebra and art. The collection took over £24,000.

Numerous typed pages about the devastating progress of the Second World War by Daily Express journalist Albert Hird contained a poignant account of the death of his own son in 1944 and were detailed, evocative and historically fascinating: they made £490 whilst letters by Charles Dickens from 1869 (£470) and another by Prince Rupert from 1673/4 with an ostentatious signature (£490) contributed to an interesting selection of manuscripts.

A tiny globe, just 1 1/2" in diameter and contained within a small box with a concertina strip of 32 prints of world costume, dated from about 1845 and took £2290 (see illustration) whilst an 1856 album of fifty three small ink and wash sketches of Ancient Castles in Ireland by J. J. Tuite appealed sufficiently to the Irish market to make £3055.