THE EXOTIC EXCITES BIDDERS AT THE CANTERBURY AUCTION GALLERIES

01/09/17

Exotic antiques and works of art brought home by intrepid travellers invariably strike a chord with buyers at The Canterbury Auction Galleries and the two-day August sale was no exception. Among the top an extraordinary Samurai warrior’s suit of armour from the period when Japan was ruled by Shoguns and largely closed to the West.

The fearsome armour, dating from around 1869 and clearly strengthened to resist lead gunshot, comprised a heavily constructed black lacquered kabuto (helmet) and lamé neck guard, with matching iron hanbo (face mask) and gilded copper crest.

The body protection was made from large overlapping leather scales lacquered russet brown and laced together with blue silk, as were the black lacquered gessan (thigh armour) and sode (shoulder guards). Russet coloured iron kote (sleeves) and red lacquered haidate and suneate (leg armour) were all matching and backed with yellow silk brocade.

Retaining its original papers and rarely found box to enable it to be transported by donkey, the armour came from a private collection in Northampton and was purchased with a bid of £4,200 from a collector in Kent.

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Just as exotic and equally fearsome was a tiger skin rug, complete with snarling head, brought home by Albert Dicks as a souvenir of his time as a Forestry Commission Conservator in India.

Dicks was based at Chikalda hill station, a cool and luxuriant village in the north of the country where among his duties was the protection of villagers and their cattle. He shot the tiger personally after it had made repeated attacks. The skin was subsequently sent to legendary taxidermists Van Ingen & Van Ingen in Mysore, where it was preserved as a trophy. The rug measured 103ins x 79ins and sold to a local private buyer for £3,800.

Nothing could be more exotic than diamonds and opals, the top lot in the sale being an elegant Twenties pendant, which the Oxford buyer was particularly pleased to have secured. He had owned a similar pendant many years ago and always regretted selling it. The cost of replacing it was a phone bid of £8,400

For the money he acquired a good rectangular-cut turquoise opal with orange “fire” measuring 24.5mm x 17.7mm x 3.5mm deep, framed by one baguette-cut and 84 rose-cut diamonds suspended on a fine chain, all contained in a grey leather gilt tooled fitted case inscribed by the retailer Charles Knott, 38 Bury Street, St James, SW1. The pendant was sent for sale by a local private owner.

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In paintings, it was a coaching scene by Yorkshire artist Gilbert Scott Wright (1880-1958) that emerged as top lot, selling to a local collector for £4,000. The oil was titled "Coach and Four with Hunting Party Outside The Bell Inn, Knaresborough” and measured 28ins x 36ins.

A particular feature of the sale was a number of fine and rare sporting guns and pistols, pick of which was a group of four weapons sent for sale by a local collector. Most wanted was a good example of an early sporting gun: a double barrelled flintlock side by side 16 bore muzzle loading shotgun by Durs Egg of London.

The gun’s 32-inch plain steel barrels had a flat top rib inlaid in gold with the maker’s name and “London”, while the breach had gold metal bands and the locks and hammers were decorated with scrollwork and the maker’s name.

It was purchased by a Kent collector for £1,900 against an estimate of £800-1,200, while a 19th century .44 calibre percussion Adam's patent revolver, retailed by Calisher & Terry of London doubled its estimate to sell to an Oxford buyer for £1,750. The revolver had seen little use. Its 6ins nickel plated barrel and action was decorated profusely with scrollwork and was contained in a fitted burr walnut case with a selection of tools and powder flasks.

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A pair of 18th century .65 calibre officer's pistols by Henry Nock (1741-1804), one of London’s top makers, had 7.5ins browned octagonal Damascus steel barrels with blued steel hammers and locks decorated with scrollwork and maker’s name, walnut stocks with chequered grips, and a stirrup mounted ramrod. It sold to a local private buyer for £1,100.

By the same maker was a rare and heavy 18th century .60 double-barrelled flintlock pistol with 7ins bright steeled barrels and action decorated with a stand of arms and “H. Nock” one side and a further stand of arms and “London” on the other. It sold to another local collector for £900.

Also in the militaria section, a pair of pair of Russian 15 x 110 observation binoculars, mounted on an adjustable wooden tripod with a spirit level, complete with accessories, filters, and original paperwork dating it to 1980 overturned its estimate to sell to a London buyer for £1,300.

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Ironically, a Russian internet buyer chose instead to bid on a silver and enamel breast star and badge of a Knight’s Grand Cross of The Order of The Royal Victorian Order, (KGCVO) securing it with an above estimate bid of £1,100. In white enamel, the Maltese-style cross had a central gilt and enamel crowned oval panel with monogram, matched by the cut silver breast badge.

The perennial demand for oak furniture by Yorkshire’s Robert “Mouseman” Thompson (1876-1955) – he carved the rodent on all such pieces – was illustrated yet again when a buyer from the county paid £3,000 for a set of eight 1930s dining chairs from the Kilburn workshop.

The set, including two armchairs, had shaped crest rails above a central shaped splat flanked by two plain splats and seats upholstered in brown hide, on octagonal front legs, each chair carved with a mouse running up the right leg. They were accompanied by their original invoice dated July 24, 1935, showing the armchairs priced at 110 shillings (£5.50) and single chairs at 110 shillings (£3.15).

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An extending walnut dining table on heavy turned and reeded legs that once stood in the London headquarters of the Medical Research Institute, in Mill Hill, was contested hotly, falling eventually to a Scottish buyer for £1,050, the price proving that Victorian furniture is still wanted however large it might be. This one was exceptionally large, with four extra leaves allowing it to grow to almost 12 feet (3.6 metres) in length.

Two late George III mahogany-framed bergère armchairs on turned and reeded front supports and castors, each with moulded rectangular backs and typical cane-panelled seats, backs and arms, sold for £2,200 despite one seat being badly damaged, the price illustrating their quality.

They came from a local deceased estate, as did an extensive but incomplete suite of George V rat tail pattern table silver, each piece engraved with the "Baring" family crest. Comprising a considerable 214 ounces of weighable silver embracing everything from soup ladle to dessert forks, the cutlery was housed in an oak canteen with brass plaque engraved "Hon. Windham Baring", the son of the first Earl of Cromer. It sold to a bidder in Buckinghamshire for £3,100.

The saleroom’s regular Friday morning free valuation session invariably turn up treasures subsequently offered for sale on behalf of their owners, the prize this time being a charming bronze bust by Sir Alfred Gilbert (1854-1934) best known for his statue of “Eros”, in Piccadilly Circus.

Although small at just 6.75 inches, the bust depicted the celebrated Victorian painter and sculptor George Frederic Watts and sold to a London telephone buyer for an above estimate £1,450.

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And as further proof that small is desirable, a good, early 19th century mantel clock in the Gothic style by Richard Ganthony, 83 Cheapside, London, sold for £2,500. It measured less than 10 inches but its eight-day two-train chain fusee movement striking on a gong, was contained in an impressive rosewood case with twin pinnacles inlaid with brass and bronze quatrefoil columns.

Richard Pinfold Ganthony, a Master of the Clock Makers’ Company and son of Richard Ganthony, is recorded working at Cheapside in 1821. He died in 1845.

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Entries of good quality fine art, antiques and collectors’ items are now invited for the next two-day sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries, which is on October 3-4. For further information, please contact the auctioneers, telephone 01227 763337 or general@tcag.com.

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