Peacock Antiques, a shop in the Square at Chilham, near Canterbury, opened for business over 40 years, becoming a popular hunting ground for collectors and dealers but on the owner’s retirement 23 years ago, she literally closed the door and walked away.

Neither she nor anyone else had stepped inside since, until she asked auctioneer Tony Pratt of The Canterbury Auction Galleries to clear the property and arrange for the contents to be sold. What he found raised some of the top prices in his recent sale.

 “The shop was crammed with old stock from every collecting category,” Tony said. “Some of what we found was not in the best condition, but we worked through the every room picking out what might be saleable. Buyers love things fresh to the market and this was stock that had not seen the light of day for many years.”

The most valuable find proved to be a good and imposing ornate late Victorian rosewood mirror-backed side cabinet, the whole finely inlaid with marquetry and mother-of-pearl and standing almost nine feet tall and six foot wide. It was purchased by a local agent on behalf of an American buyer for £2,400 against an estimate of £1,250-1,600.

The cabinet’s ornate upper section was inset with three bevelled mirror panels with display cabinets at either side, while the base was fitted with a central cupboard flanked by further display cabinets, the whole inlaid profusely with marquetry panels and paterae.


A 1920s brass-framed hall lantern with frosted glass panels was another object to catch Tony Pratt’s eye, but some time later, three more of the distinctive hexagonal-shaped lights were uncovered in a storeroom at the back. The set was reunited and despite their condition, some glass being broken, they attracted a great deal of interest, selling to the London trade for £1,800.


Also uncovered was an oil painting by the 19th Century British artist William Howard, which Tony remembered the proprietor of the antique shop buying in one of his sales some 30 years ago.

The view of the River Thames at Sonning, showed an arched stone bridge on the right of the canvas with a church and village in the background and fisherman and three boats on the river to the foreground. The canvas, 30ins x 50ins, was signed "Wm Howard" and sold to a Guernsey buyer for £1,500. 


A further find in the same property was an elegant George III mahogany cutlery urn, the coopered body inlaid with boxwood stringing, its tiered cover with bold turned acorn finial, rising to show four tiered layers of cut-outs for spoons of various sizes. A silver shield-shaped plaque and escutcheon was hallmarked 1791. It sold to a telephone bidder from Leicester for £1,550.



Also from the same property was an impressive late Victorian longcase clock dated 1898 with Whittington and Westminster chimes sounding on nine gongs that emerged as most-wanted among several others in the sale, in part, no doubt, because of its refined mechanics and its local interest: it was originally retailed by F.H. Wilbee, of Herne Bay.

The 8ft 6in dark mahogany clock had an arched gilt brass and silvered dial with subsidiary seconds and chime/silent dials to the arch and an eight-day three-train movement with steel pendulum rod and mercury compensated cylindrical bob powered by three heavy plated metal cased weights. The clock’s hood had a bold fretted and carved leaf shell and scroll cresting and gilt brass fluted columns, while the trunk had conforming brass columns and an arched door with bevelled glass panel allowing the pendulum and weights to be seen. It sold for £1,850 to a private buyer with a story of her own.

She had recently completed the refurbishment of her Victorian home and had the foresight to instruct her team of builders to keep every piece of old lead and copper pipework so it could be sold for scrap. The money she got each week for the metal was put into a kitty and totalled in excess of £2,500. She intended to use the money to buy a clock for the entrance hall and was able to find one dating from exactly the same period as the house, which fortunately has the ceiling height to accommodate it. The money left over from purchasing the clock will be used to have it fully restored.


Elsewhere, the highly successful first sale of the year produced strong demand and prices, underlining the continued turnaround in the market for carefully selected fine, rare and unusual antique furniture, as was the case with a pair of 19th century mahogany and brass mounted oval four-tier whatnots or étagères, each with brass pineapple finials. They came from another local deceased estate and attracted the attention of a different buyer from Guernsey who secured them with an internet bid of £1,200.


Everything from 18th Century French; 18th Century walnut and Victorian rosewood to a Sixties Heal’s sideboard found eager buyers in a sale underpinned by confident bidding across all disciplines.

Top of the shop in furniture was a fine late 18th or early 19th Century French kingwood and gilt brass mounted rectangular bureau plat of Louis XV design, which prompted a bidding battle between bidders from France and Germany.

The former, a Paris salon, was successfully paying £6,000 for the desk, once owned by Francis, Lord Jeffrey (1773-1850) Editor of the influential "Edinburgh Review" from 1803-1829 and Lord Advocate of Scotland.

The desk was thought to have been acquired in 1801 on Lord Jeffrey’s marriage to Catherine Wilson, who died in 1805. On his second marriage in 1815, he leased Craigcrook Castle, Edinburgh, and this was the table at which he wrote his articles for the Edinburgh Review, remaining with him until his death in 1850. It was bequeathed to his protégé John Hunter (1801-1869) his first wife's nephew, remaining in that family until the present.

The slightly serpentine-shaped desk had a top now inset with dark wine velour within chevron bandings inlaid with central banding, the moulded gilt brass edged with leaf and scroll corners. Three frieze drawers with chevron inlaid drawer fronts and gilt brass leaf and scroll handles and mounts, were opposed by three dummy drawers to the reverse, above a shaped apron and on slender square cabriole legs with gilt brass leaf and scroll mouldings and leaf sabots. The desk came from the home of a local historian and was estimated at £2,500-3,500.


A George II lady's kneehole dressing table, meanwhile, the crossbanded top and seven drawer fronts inlaid with herringbone bandings was secured by a local private buyer for £1,400. It had been consigned by the executors of a local estate.

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Surprise of the final of the three-day sale was the £740 paid by an Irish bidder on the internet for a 1960s or 70s, probably Danish, rush-seated stick back armchair of Arts & Craft design. In light oak and beechwood, the chair had a curved crest rail and bold arm supports, and turned legs, and had been sent for sale from a Medway home. 


Less surprising, however, was £1,900 paid for a 1960s Danish designed sideboard in exotic figured veneer, which the vendors had purchased from Heal’s in London in the late 60s when they furnished their first home in North Kent.

The low fitted sideboard had a central cupboard enclosed by a pair of figured veneered doors, flanked by further cupboards, one with two interior drawers with horizontal fluted ornament, on square legs.

Both prices were multiples of their estimate, illustrating the current high demand for early 20th century and contemporary design furniture.



Entries of good quality furniture, antiques, works of art and collectors’ items are invited for the next sale on June 5th/6th/7th. For further information, please contact the saleroom, telephone 01277 763337 or


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