ASIAN BUYERS TO THE FORE IN TWO DAY SALE AT THE CANTERBURY AUCTION GALLERIES
Total sales exceed even jewellery as demand shows no sign of slowing
Asian buyers continue to pinpoint sales at The Canterbury Auction Galleries in their passion to repatriate oriental antiques and works of art. In the December Two Day Sale they spent more than any other section, beating even jewellery buyers in the pre-Christmas period.
Said auctioneer Tony Pratt. “Eighty lots of oriental pieces sold for £88,500, an average of £1,106 per lot, ,while 177 lots of jewellery sold for £82,515, or £466 per lot, the first time this has happened in our history. The Internet has opened up our sales to a remarkable degree and there seems to be no end in sight for demand in the oriental objects we offer.”
However, overseas bidders were given a run for their money by UK and European dealers and collectors, a Yorkshire collector securing one of the most coveted lots in the sale. A fine Meiji period Tokyo School carved ivory okimono of a standing bearded man holding a young boy on his shoulder and carrying a flower ball with a girl, her dog and hobby horse at his feet emerged as top lot when it sold for £15,500. Found in a house in Folkestone, the figure was estimated at £8,000-12,000. “This has to be one of the finest carvings I’ve ever handled and it was in such amazing, perfect condition,” said Tony Pratt.
A good, large 20th century Chinese carved ivory puzzle ball comprising 17 layers, the exterior containing smaller puzzle balls, on a stand supported by a dragon came from a North Kent home and sold to a central London collector on the telephone for £3,000 against an estimate of £800-1,200, while a Chinese ivory rectangular box finely fretted and carved with pavilions and figures within landscapes, sold to another London collector on the telephone for £2,600. A 19th century “Cantonese” carved ivory Brise fan, the sticks finely pierced and carved with figures and pavilions in a garden scene, sent for sale by a Weald of Kent collector, sold to the London trade for £1,500.
Nearest contender to the top lot was a pale celadon jade dagger handle, the terminal carved in the form of the head of a camel with gold coloured metal collar inset with baguette cut rubies. It sold to Sussex specialist weapons dealer bidding in the room and determined not to be beaten for a surprising £14,500, a multiple of its estimate, despite damage and missing rubies. Dating from the Mughal period, the piece measured just 4.25ins and was found in a house in Sittingbourne.
A good Chinese pale green celadon jade bowl carved with foliage, flowers and scrolling branches, and a pale and dark grey jade belt hook carved with a dragon, its head forming the terminal, and measuring just 3.5ins came from the same local home and sold to a mainland Chinese bidder on the telephone for £9,500 and £2,700 respectively.
From another local collection was a Chinese carved amber figure of a god standing on a three legged toad and carrying a smaller toad on his left sleeve. It sold to a London based Chinese buyer on the telephone for £3,000, despite being damaged, while a 19th century Chinese amber pendant carved with grapes, on a woven silk suspension cord, sold to a mainland Chinese buyer on the Internet for 2,200.
Benjarong ware is Thailand’s contribution to Asian ceramics, the word meaning “five colours”. The sale included two early 20th century examples from the same Canterbury home, acquired in China in the early 20th century by the vendor’s grandfather who was involved in the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. They were purchased by a Midlands collector bidding against a Thai underbidder, both on the Internet. More valuable of the two proved to be a pair of bowls and covers decorated in enamels with deities, which sold for £2,300, while a bowl and cover and a second bowl, all similarly decorated, together with a selection of similar pieces, sold for £1,750. Each lot had been estimated at £200-300.
While the jewellery section came in second behind oriental wares, there was no shortage of buyers and gift shoppers, notably the local gentleman looking for a Christmas box for his wife. He plumped for a good triple strand necklace of natural pearls, the gold fastener set with eight old cut diamonds.. The saleroom had the pearls tested to ensure they were natural and the move paid off, the pearls selling for £1,950, much to the delight of the vendor who had taken them to one of the saleroom’s free Friday valuation days.
A West Country private buyer bidding on the Internet secured an 18ct gold and platinum mounted solitaire diamond ring from a local estate, the old cut stone weighing approximately 2.4cts. It sold for £2,700, while a Sussex dealer in the room paid £2,100, a multiple of its estimate, for an early 20th century gold mounted kunzite brooch/pendant, the cushion cut lilac coloured stone measuring 14mm x 21mm. It was surmounted by a diamond set ribbon pattern cresting suspended from a small diamond set loop, on a fine white gold chain necklet. The piece came from a mid Kent home, as did a 1950s gold “Bird of Paradise” brooch set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. It sold to a lady in room for £1,250.
The Sussex dealer also paid £1,550 for a white gold mounted solitaire diamond ring, the old cut stone weighing approximately 1.3ct and £1,250 for an Art Deco platinum mounted sapphire and diamond ring, both of which had come from the same local estate as before. A Victorian gold coloured metal enamel and diamond set “Bee” pattern brooch, the body in black and yellow enamel, the wings set with 34 rose cut diamonds, was sent for sale from a Dover estate, and sold to a London dealer on the telephone for £1,450 against an estimate of £400-600.
The £360,000 sale total was an indication of the market’s buoyancy. A total of 64 lots sold for more than £1,000, bidding boosted by a total of 215 commission bids, many on multiple lots, coming from China, the U.S., Singapore, Egypt, Italy, Germany and Holland. In addition, there were telephone bidders from China, the U.S., Belgium, Italy and Germany.
Attracting a winning Internet bid from a collector in Washington DC was a George IV rosewood bow and break-front chest of drawers in the ‘Egyptian’ style, which came from a North Kent home and sold for £1,750. With satinwood crossbanding and boxwood stringing, the chest had ebonised caryatids to front and stood on carved hairy paw feet. In contrast, a modern Italian black painted metal two seat “King and Queen” settee from the 1985 Sixth Series designed by Mario Botta, the seats with striking black and grey leather covered chevron pattern cushions, was chosen as a statement piece by its London telephone bidder. From a Canterbury home whose owners were downsizing, it sold or £1,500.
Most valuable piece of furniture proved to be an Edwardian mahogany Georgian style bookcase, the upper part with six adjustable shelves enclosed by two pairs of glazed doors, the base fitted two shelves enclosed by two pairs of panelled doors, on plinth base. It sold to a local private buyer for £3,000, while close behind at £2,800 was a George II burr walnut two tier corner cupboard with cross grained mouldings and inlaid with herringbone bandings, the mirrored top fitted with three shelves, the base with a single door with quarter veneered centre panel. In need of restoration, it came from a Canterbury farmhouse and was sold to a Scottish private buyer on the telephone.
From the same source was a good George III “New Celestial Globe” made and sold by J. & W Cary, Strand, London 1800, the 12-inch globe with printed and coloured representation of the heavens. It stood on a mahogany stand turned with centre column and cabriole supports, the rim printed with the months of the year and signs of the Zodiac above compass rose beneath, while the globe was secured by a brass azimuth ring engraved with degrees. It was sold to a Cheshire restoration specialist for £1,550.
A Victorian walnut credenza with gilt metal mounts and floral marquetry inlay with serpentine glazed side cupboards from a Dover estate sold to the Brighton trade for £2,100 and a late George III mahogany folio stand, with double fold down adjustable sides on rectangular end supports and moulded splay feet with brass toes and castors, from the same Sittingbourne home as the jade dagger handle, sold to a commission bid from a London decorator for £1,500.
However, the choicest lots from the Sittingbourne home were two drawings by self-taught Norwich artist Edward Seago (1910-1974), a grey wash drawing titled “Ambulances and Firefighters in Attendance”, a Second World War scene by a bombed building, and a pen and blue wash drawing, “Making Camp”, showing lorries parked in an orchard. They had been purchased at the Fine Art Society exhibition “Edward Seago’s War Paintings” in September 1999 and sold on the telephone respectively to a Cotswold gallery for £2,500 and a Midlands gallery for £3,100.
A pen and ink sketch from a Canterbury home by artist and nonsense writer Edward Lear (1812-1888) titled “Taormina” - Hilltop Town sold to a London gallery on the telephone for £1,450 against an estimate of £700-1,000, while an 18th century English School shoulder length portrait in oils of a gentleman with powdered wig and wearing a red coat from a Dover estate, doubled its estimate sell to a UK buyer on the Internet for £1,550.
A good entry of antiquarian books included a copy of Edward Hasted’s “The History and Topographical Survey of Kent” printed for the author by Simmons & Kirkby, Canterbury 1778-1799. The four gilt tooled brown leather folio sized volumes bore front covers with armorial of John Frederick - Earl Cawdor, while Volume 1 had a page of additional plates handwritten by Hasted. It sold to a local collector in the room for an above estimate £3,400, while a local book dealer paid £1,550 for John Harris’s “The History of Kent in Five Parts” printed and sold by D. Midwinter, London 1719. Both came from the same Canterbury estate.
Highlight of the ceramics section were two amusing early 20th century figures of Cubist cats by the comic illustrator Louis Wain, sent for sale from a local source. The five-inch tall figures, “Lucky Black Cat” and “Lord Haw-Haw”, sold for £840 and £540 and were purchased by local buyers in the room and on the telephone respectively.
More serious was a de Grieksche A blue and white Dutch Delft baluster shaped vase and cover with blue “SVE” monogram for Samuel Van Eenhoorn dating from circa 1678-1695. Painted in the manner of the “Chinese Transitional” period with oriental figures in stylised landscapes with trees, rocks and buildings below a border of eight trefoil blue ground lappetts and reserves with scrolling foliage and flowers, the vase , although somewhat damaged, sold to a London specialist dealer for £3,900 against an estimate of £800-1,200. It had been sent for sale by a local firm of removers.
Among a small quantity of collectors’ toys was a rare pair of early 20th century “O” gauge tinplate models of electric trams retailed by H. J. Redding & Co., which came from a Dover estate. The engine and carriage were painted in green livery and bore the number 35 and 12 respectively, tempting a Surrey collector to part with £1,350 against an estimate of £300-400, despite slight damage.
In works of art, a late 19th or early 20th century Russian silver gilt and pliqué a jour enamel egg-shaped cup and cover sent for sale by a local collector sold to a local private buyer for £2,000. Cast with a silver gilt double headed eagle finial, the egg was decorated with translucent red, blue, green, mauve and turquoise bead enamel borders and was thought to be by Pavel Ovchinnikov (1853-1916) of Moscow.
A George IV needlework panel, “The Lodges of Burghley House”, worked by Mary Anne Everard, Stickney, first seen at a Friday free valuation session, bore the handwritten inscription “Exhibited by Mrs Taylor and worked by her in the year 1823”. It sold to a specialist textile dealer for £660 against an estimate of £250-350, the estimate reflecting its faded condition.
A 17th or 18th century carved alabaster figure of a chained recumbent bull, possibly from a funerary monument, was damaged and consequently estimated at £250-350, but that did not deter a North of England sculpture specialist bidding £2,400 to add it to his stock, while a London dealer in bronze sculpture paid £4,000 for a group of a seated baboon with its infant by the Belgian sculptor Alberic Collin (1886-1962). The brown patinated group was signed and bore the founder’s mark for C. Valsuani. It came from a North Kent home, while a collector from the Weald of Kent chose this sale to dispose of his exotic cold painted bronze figure of a woman with a palm leaf by Franz Xavier Bergman (1861-1936). The 11.5ins high figure was signed “Nam Greb” (Bergman backwards) and marked with the letter “B” to the base. It sold to a local private buyer in the room for £2,500 against an estimate of £1,200-1,500.
However, there could be no less “exotic” work of art than the box of early 20th century Bromo brand toilet paper, unused, of course, (estimate £5-10) which was one of 32 lots consigned by contestants in the iconic BBC TV antiques show Bargain Hunt. Pity the poor local buyer who was filmed placing his winning bid of £15 to make it his. Four programmes were filmed during the two-day sale in which 32 lots sold for a total of £1,750, proving that there is profit to be made if you buy wisely. A case in point was the contestant who offered a Victorian gilt bronze Aesthetic Movement jardinière inset with Minton tiles by Moyr Smith decorated with scenes from Aesop’s Fables. Estimated at £40-60, it sold for £130 to a Belgium collector who travels specially to Canterbury for the sales.
Good quality antiques, fine art and collectors’ items are now being accepted for the first Two Day Sale of 2012, which is on February 14-15. For further information, please contact Tony Pratt, telephone 01227 763337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.