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There was variety aplenty: a view of Daphne du Maurier’s family home at Fowey, painted by Manchester-born Fred Yates, was bid to £3400; a large and decorative marine painting by American James Gale Tyler sailed to £2680; and a wintry view of stags at Glen Urquhart by popular equestrian artist Lionel Edwards was bought for £4880. An 18th Century copy of a late 16th Century portrait by Frans Pourbus of Albert VII, Archduke of Austria, made just over £7500.
However, attention focused upon three lots by two artists who were close associates. The oil paintings of L. S. Lowry are well known but his lithographs are rarer and becoming more collectable. He is quoted as saying that `I am in interested in all curious people but especially in the sordidness of down-and-outs. His 1967 lithograph of a tramp curled up asleep on a London bench was signed by Lowry and exceeded all expectations to take £8820, possibly an auction record for one of his prints and more than double prices for the same subject in recent London auctions.
Lowry nurtured the career of a young artist in Manchester called Harold Riley (b.1934), now one of the north west’s leading painters. Two pastels from a private collection attracted keen interest: `Walking the Dog` from 1979 was quintessential Lowry in all but name and made £5160. whilst a more colourful pastel of `The Fair at Flat Iron, Salford` from the late 1980’s was contested by half a dozen bidders well above its estimate to make another possible record price for Riley of just over £9250.
Amidst 300 lots of clocks, works of art and furniture, it was a fine carpet that caught the eyes of the richest bidders on Lawrences’ recent sale in Crewkerne.
The selection began promisingly with keen bids for good clocks, including a tavern clock by Robert Clidsdale of Edinburgh. The 73cm/29 in dial helped to make it a striking purchase at £8780. A George III bracket clock by Richard Day of London ticked the right boxes and made £2440. An unusual scrimshaw (whale tooth) in the form of a powder horn by William Blakley was etched with views of Montreal and Kingstown Bay. Canadian interest as the result of an advert in a specialist Canadian magazine saw it sell it £2190.
Four modern pieces of `Regency Gothic` furniture by Ray Coggins in cream and gilt made £6400, an elegant pair of Italian console tables with marble tops on putti bases made £5970, a George II walnut tallboy went above estimate at £4390 and a large Howard easy armchair sold comfortably at £3400. The top price of the afternoon session was paid for a fine quality needlework carpet of early 18th Century design, measuring 2.75m x 2.6m (108 x 102 in). The bold floral design and yellow border was immensely decorative and the coloured threads had been well preserved so bidding was keen enough to see it soar to £14,640.
Four hundred and fifty lots of jewellery went under the hammer at Lawrences in Crewkerne on July 16th and there were strong prices throughout the auction. However, a remarkable run of successes towards the end of the sale ensured that one third of the total was generated from fewer than 10 lots.
Successes early in the sale included £1700 paid for an 18ct gold pocket watch by Patek Philippe, £2440 for a steel wristwatch by Jaeger Le Coultre and £3660 for an 18ct gold wristwatch by Vacheron & Constantin. A finely carved Chinese jade brooch met keen bidding online before selling for just over £7000.
However, a selection of fine quality pieces was reserved for the latter part of the sale and a host of telephone bidders competed keenly for some eye-catching lots: a diamond ring with two triangular stones around a brilliant-cut stone made £7320; a lustrous natural pearl and diamond ring made £3780; a three stone diamond ring was bid to £5360; and a Victorian diamond and pearl tiara from c.1880 with distinguished provenance through the families of Earls and Barons was bought for £7800. The day’s three top lots all made five-figure sums: an emerald and diamond three stone ring made £12200; a cased Georgian set of pink topaz jewellery made ten times expectations at £15860; and a 1.02 carat pink diamond of asymmetrical shape was contested by eight telephones to £37800.
The variety in Lawrences’ auctions of Decorative Art and Ceramics always ensures that the auctioneers will receive numerous enquiries and a similar quantity of bids. The most recent auction offered 250 lots of objects spanning four or five centuries and there were some strong prices throughout.
A Wedgwood figure of a buffalo by John Skeaping pushed its way to £1000 and an unusual Lalique glass candleholder depicting flying birds in the `Mouettes` pattern fluttered up to £1340. Three lots of `Mouseman` furniture by Robert Thompson complemented the Decorative Arts section by making £560 for a three-legged stool, £1220 for a nest of three tables and £1400 for a scarce pair of elbow chairs. Each bore the distinctive charming carved mouse motif.
Two Vienna porcelain dishes decorated with scenes from mythology exceeded expectations to take £4630, a Masons style ironstone pot pourri dish took £1460 and there was spicy bidding for a pair of Chinese ginger jars and covers at £1640.
Top honours were saved for a rare set of four late 18th Century decanters. These had diamond cut decoration and bore the Hamilton family crest. Provenance suggests that they were owned by William Beckford at Fonthill in Witshire, whose mother’s Hamilton crest formed part of Beckford’s coat of arms. The suite was of exceptional elegance and quality and made their estimate when the bidding stopped at £13420.
It proved to be the smaller pieces that made the biggest prices at Lawrences’ auction of silver and vertu in Crewkerne. A pair of provincial apostle spoons depicting St. Peter and St. Simon Zelotes were made during the reign of James I and could be dated to c.1620-1630. These made £3050. A small (16cm/ 6 in) pair of George I candlesticks by John Bignell (1723) were also bid to £3050. whilst a 19cm/7.5 in pair of Irish candlesticks by Jonathan Pasley of Dublin dated from c.1760 and made double the low estimate at £2440. Staying across the Irish sea, a rare cream jug by William Reynolds of Cork, c.1770, stood just 10cm/4 in high but also made £2440. A rare early Victorian `castletop` vinaigrette by the most celebrated maker of such items, Nathaniel Mills, depicted Chichester Cathedral on the cover. Smaller than a matchbox, this soared to £5850. Another `castletop` case showing Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column dated from 1848: this was 10cm/ 4 in long and met keen competition before selling for £7680. A rare novelty vest case/match holder in the form of a roller skate was made by Jane Brownett in 1876 and rolled all the way to £2560. A small collection of corkscrews comprised the final nine lots and ranged in price from £80 to £400 per lot but with one notable exception. Novelty and innovation are very desirable to collectors and lot 542 contained six small examples including a `Lund’s patent` corkscrew that extracted a corking bid of £3050. The day’s top prices were paid for very dissimilar items: a 16.5cm/ 6.5 in modern Indian gold trophy bowl commemorating the `Tolly Gunge Races 1922` was made by Messrs Cooke and Kelvey of Calcutta and raced ahead of the field to make £10490 whilst an elaborate but useful lemon strainer by Joseph Johns of Limerick (1740-1760) squeezed a dozen bidders to their limit before they were pipped by a private collector who was zesty enough to pay £17000.
As the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo approaches on June 18th, a remarkable glimpse into the Duke of Wellington’s preparations for battle will be offered for sale at auction.
The letter, written by the Duke on May 8th 1815 as he made crucial plans for his most decisive conflict and the final vanquishing of Napoleon’s ambitions, comprises a single sentence requesting `medicines and materials required for the use of this army` to be sent `as soon as possible`. It was addressed to `The Right Honble The Secretary of War` (Earl Bathurst) and was received in Whitehall just four days later on May 12th.
“The Duke of Wellington was a prolific correspondent,” notes Robert Ansell, the Books & Manuscripts consultant at Lawrences Auctioneers in Crewkerne, Somerset, where the letter will be sold on July 31st. “However, this letter reveals much about him in just a single sentence. Napoleon’s army was beginning its advance on Brussels and the King of the Netherlands had just placed his own soldiers under the Duke of Wellington’s command. In this brief missive, Wellington shows himself to be organized and concerned for the care and welfare of his men. On the same day, we know from Dispatches that he wrote to Lord Stewart discussing tactics and deciding to commence the battle when he had mustered as many as 450,000 men. Napoleon hoped to try and frustrate supplies to such a large army by the use of false intelligence. On the day, Wellington had 67000 men to Napoleon’s 69000. We hope that the current considerable interest in the anniversary of this notable battle will attract keen bidders to this simple but vital letter.”
The letter (31 by 19cm), now framed and glazed, has been consigned for sale from a lady in Dorset whose family have owned it for over a century. It is signed `Your Lordship’s most obedient Humble Servant, Wellington` and is expected to make £1000-1500. Further details from the auctioneers on (01460) 73041, www.lawrences.co.uk
There will be history in abundance - and in different forms - in Lawrences’ forthcoming auction of book, maps, photographs and manuscripts to be held in Crewkerne on July 31st.
There are 51 lots of books deaccessioned from the West Cloister Store of Wells Cathedral, most of which have been in the Cathedral’s store since publication. “Some date from the early years of the 19th Century,” says Lawrences’ specialist, Robert Ansell. “One item of interest is sure to be the `Editio Princeps`, the first published edition of The Domesday Book first issued in 1783. Our edition dates from 1811-1816 but lacks volume 3; it is estimated at £200-300.”
Earlier volumes include a copy of Richard Turner’s `A View of the Heavens..` from 1765; Pierto Maria Canepari’s `De Atramentis Gujuscunque Generis` of 1660; and `In hoc volumine haec continentur..` by Marcus Tullius Cicero from 1519
For the more modern collector, there is an album of 32 large format photographs relating to Great War munitions at £200-300; four first editions by Lawrence Durrell; and a delightful selection of works from 1960-1980 by Rena Gardiner compiled into nine lots at estimates varying from £80 to £300.
“Perhaps the most curious lot is a lock of golden hair, taken from the immaculately preserved body of Henry VII’s last Queen, Catherine Parr (1513-1548)"; says Robert. “After the King’s death, Queen Catherine married Sir Thomas Seymour and she died at Sudeley in 1548 following a difficult delivery of a baby girl. The former Queen’s body was found to be in remarkable condition when the grave was opened in 1782 and the hair was snipped from Catherine’s head by Colonel Richard Powell Cotton in the following year (1783) by which time decomposition had set in.” For this intriguing fragment of Tudor history, the auctioneers are inviting bids of £300-500. The 400-lot auction can be viewed online now and on the premises from July 28th.