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Lawrences’ auction of books and manuscripts concluded the firm’s successful series of summer auctions and the 300 lots comprised plenty of real appeal to numerous bidders.
Highlights included £1100 for two small pieces of silver once owned by the Victorian illustrator John Tenniel, famous for his work for Lewis Carroll; a surprising £1910 for a small 1903 volume relating to Powerscourt written by Viscount Powerscourt; £830 for an 1873 volume on British Falconry by F. S. Henry and W. Broderick, with 23 coloured lithographs within; £1430 for a beautifully bound set of 19 volumes of Jonathan Swift’s works, edited by Sir Walter Scott in 1814; and £2090 for an interesting selection of original legal documents relating to the St John Mildmay family and its branches.
Travel featured prominently and was well received. William Dampier’s `New Voyage Round the World` was published in 1697. Dampier, born near Yeovil in 1651, recorded sea voyages that he made to North and South America, and as far afield as the Philippines, China and Cambodia. This lot made £470. A curious map engraved by Nicolaus Visscher in 1658 showed California as an island and hinted at the mysterious land of `Anian` to the north. This showed signs of its age but made £980. In addition, a small sketchbook of 43 amateur watercolours of subjects in Corfu, Malta, Algiers and elsewhere was bid to £1430 [view of Valletta in Malta]. However, two other handwritten volumes attracted keener interest still. Consigned for sale by a Dorset couple, these were handwritten musical manuscripts composed by John Lenton in the very early 18th Century. They were written to be performed before William of Orange and Queen Anne on New Year’s Day in 1702 and again in 1703. Lenton (1657-1719) was a prominent figure in the Royal courts under four monarchs from James II onwards and these beautifully written scores were written across 12 pages within polished morocco covers with suitable regal gilt decoration. Each volume was little bigger than a standard postcard but the rarity and importance lifted the prices to a sweet high note of £5250 for each lot.
There were over 650 lots of silver and vertu in Lawrences’ sale on July 9th and the auction commenced their busy week of sales in the Crewkerne rooms.
An early 17th Century spoon, possibly made in Salisbury in the reign of King Charles I, was scooped up for £810 whilst a rather different item for the table, in the form of 24 German dessert dishes, exceeded their estimate to take £2390. A little group of three Indian ducks, forming an unusual teaset, exceeded the £600-800 estimate to make £4180.
A pair of regimental claret jugs, 1864, bore the badge of the 98th (Prince of Wales) Regiment of Foot and took £3460; a pair of candlesticks, possibly made for the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Princess Augusta, were bid to £1610; and another item with royal significance was a salver from 1789 probably bearing the arms of William, Duke of Clarence, later William IV (£1970).
Two similar footed dishes (tazzae) dated from 1701-1709 and were keenly contested to £3100 whilst a fine Victorian soup tureen, this bearing the crest and motto of the Sassoon family, took £4900. A wooden casket covered with shagreen (sharkskin), made by Omar Ramsden in 1935, was bid to £1550 and a small modern cylindrical box, also covered with shagreen, by John Paul Cooper (1920) made £1310.
Objects of vertu proved very popular and internet bidding dominated the action for the last section of the sale. There were some big prices for tiny works of art and highlights included £950 for a gold cigarette case; £710 for a small Royal Worcester scent bottle; £810 for a 17th Century miniature of a gentleman, barely the size of a matchbox label; 740 for a tiny silver propelling pencil in the form of a rifle; £650 for a small `teardrop` nutmeg grater from c.1720; £1050 for an 18th Century games box of red lacquer, containing four coloured ivory boxes with counters; and a £1430 for an 18th Century Italian fan, decorated with a view in Venice. This last item was especially relevant as the temperatures outside rose to 80F on the warmest day of the year so far.
Lawrences’ recent auction of pictures and furniture offered lots from across six centuries and there was plenty of encouraging bidding from dealers and private collectors.
In the picture selection of over 200 lots, collectors bid £1550 for a group of lithographs of Greek appeal; £9560 for a fine ink and wash drawing by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (1727-1804) from a Dorset deceased’s estate; £5970 for an oil by eminent French artist Louis Valtat, also from the same estate; and £2620 for a delightful little watercolour by Mary Fedden of a man relaxing contentedly with a bottle of spirits at his side.
A view on the Thames near Twickenham, once thought to be by Richard Wilson, was bought for £8000; whilst a bright and fresh view of sheep under trees at Moniaive in Scotland by James Paterson was bought for £4900. Keen bidding from the internet ensured that over 80% of the lots found buyers.
Later in the sale, a clock in the form of the facade of a gothic cathedral was bid to £2620; an Indo-Portuguese table cabinet, late 17th Century in origin, also made £2620; and a pair of George III French chairs in the Hepplewhite taste will seat their owner very comfortably at £5130. A hardwood occasional table in the form of a camel soared to £2860 and a Ziegler style carpet went to £2150. Three of the more unusual lots included an early 19th Century phaeton carriage of French provincial manufacture, ripe for rewarding restoration (£1000); a handsome modern coromandel wood humidor made by Dunhill was puffed up to £310 by two bidders; and a set of fifteen plain beechwood apothecary’s jars of simple lidded drum shape and each about 23cm in diameter. One was designed to hold an unpleasantly large quantity of senna pods, for relief from even the most stubborn digestive complaint. These eased to £470.