Gold pocket watches found in a roof, a marble urn found in a barn and a $20 United States of America gold coin that sold for £5,400 were just three highlights from the highly successful February Two Day Sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries. Internet, commission and telephone bidding and bidders in a packed saleroom help boost the sale total to £299,000, with a total of 48 lots selling for more than £1,000.
Gold – and silver – was very much in demand as the rise in value of precious metals shows no signs of slowing. However, it was the rarity of the U.S. Double Eagle struck in high relief in 1907 that sent its selling price soaring away from the pre-sale estimate. Sent for sale by a private individual from Romney Marsh, it sold to a specialist coin dealer bidding on the telephone against a U.S. collector in the room.
A 1911 George V gold £5 coin purchased in 1935 to mark the King’s Silver Jubilee and sold with the original receipt from London coin dealers Spink & Son for £9 10 shillings (£9.50) sold to a Lincolnshire collector on the telephone for £1,650. It came from a Thanet estate.
The gold pocket watches found in the roof of a property had been concealed inside a leather pouch. Among them was a George V dress watch in an 18ct case by the well known London maker Charles Frodsham, of 27 South Moulton Street. Happily it was purchased by a representative of the company, which is still in business, who was prepared to pay £1,400, or twice the estimate, for the privilege of buying it back. The same price was paid by a Norfolk collector for a George III 18ct gold pair cased lever pocket watch by Mackie & Son, City Road, London, probably George Mackie and Son, recorded working London 1809-1825.
The sale was a strong one with 194 lots, or 20 per cent, falling to some of the 558 registered Internet bidders who came from as far afield as Mainland China, Taiwan, Australia, Malta, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Northern Ireland. Commission bidders numbered 234 and came from the U.S., Canada, China, Australia, Slovenia, Spain, Belgium and Northern Ireland, while buyers from Malta were buying furniture, notably, sight unseen. Phone bids were placed by 126 bidders from the U.S., Hong Kong, Mainland China, the British Virgin Islands, Italy, the Netherlands and Ireland.
Jewellery was contested eagerly, notably by private buyers, the most sought after piece being a platinum mounted emerald and diamond ring, the central emerald-cut stone weighing 3.3 carats and the shoulders set with 10 small and four baguette-cut diamonds. It sold to a local buyer, while Kent collector telephoned a winning bid of £1,700 for a 1920s white gold diamond set bar brooch, the central marquise-cut 1 carat diamond surrounded by 30 smaller old-cut stones.
Close behind at £1,600 was an amusing Victorian gold mounted Tiger’s eye, diamond and ruby brooch modelled as a fly with, rose-cut diamond-set wings and cabochon ruby eyes. It was purchased by a Midlands collector bidding on the Internet, while another local buyer paid £1,300 for a white gold five stone diamond ring, the stones weighing just less than a carat.
The sale opened as it meant to continue with a Hereford collector paying a top estimate £2,000 for a good 1920s Charles Vyse pottery figure, “The Madonna of the Worlds End Passage”, a standing figure of a young woman wearing a full length green coat over a floral dress and carrying a young baby wrapped in a mauve shawl. From a local vendor, the piece had a blue painted C.V., Chelsea mark to the base and was dated 1923.
A Lalique blue opalescent moulded glass circular “Roscoff” design bowl from a North Kent home sold to a specialist bronze dealer for £1,300 against an estimate of £450-500.
However, Chinese porcelain continues to be in the ascendancy. A Kangxi blue and white baluster Yen Yen vase with flared neck decorated with scholars and figures on horseback with mountains to the background sold for an estimate-busting £4,400 despite several rim chips. It came from a North Kent home and sold to a Chinese buyer based in the county.
The same buyer paid £2,700 against an estimate of £500-700 for a 19th century blue and white porcelain bulbous vase with flared neck decorated in the Ming manner with a meandering leaf, which was sent for sale from a Deal home, and £1,150 for a 19th century Chinese rosewood cased mantel clock with eight-day two-train movement quarter striking on two bells, contained in a rectangular rosewood case. It came from a local home.
A Maidstone vendor was rewarded with a bid of £3,100 for a blue and white baluster-shaped vase decorated with four-toed dragons chasing a pearl amongst clouds, which also dated from the Kangxi period, its London-based Chinese buyer ignoring the £1,000-1,200 estimate, while a Chinese buyer in Italy paid £1,750 for a vase decorated in the “famille verte” palette on a yellow ground with scenes in reserves depicting figures at domestic. It had been estimated at £600-800.
The story was similar with Chinese jade. Most valuable piece was a simple white bowl sent for sale by a North Kent collector who was expecting a return of £100-150, the estimate reflecting the fact that the piece was cracked. It was purchased by the Kent-based Chinese buyer for £3,100, who also paid £1,900, or three times the estimate, for a pale green celadon jade belt buckle modelled with a horse and a monkey on its back, which came from a Thanet home.
Choicest piece of Chinese carved ivory was a late 19th/early 20th century cylindrical “tusk” box finely carved in deep relief with a mythical bird and flowering trees, the twin lion finial cover carved with dragons. Damaged and repaired and from a Wiltshire vendor, it was estimated at £500-700 but sold to a London-based Chinese buyer on the Internet for £1,050.
A good Japanese bronze brown patinated and textured figure of a standing elephant being attacked by two tigers dated from Meiji period and came from a Dover home, it sold to a London based oriental art specialist for an above estimate £1,900 despite damage.
In European bronzes, a pair of verdigris finish figures by the Mexican sculptor Javier Marin (b. 1962) depicted Adam and Eve. From a local home, the pair sold to a London specialist dealer for £2,600, while a brown patinated “Allegory of Spring” figure by Pierre Le Faguays (1892-1962) which sold for an above estimate £1,400 was an unredeemed pledge from Canterbury Jewellers & Pawnbrokers. The dancing nude female holding a garland of flowers was signed, bore the founder’s label for J.B. Paris, and stood on a black marble stepped base. It was purchased with a commission bid from a local collector.
A cold painted bronze figure of a young alligator by Franz Xavier Bergman (1861-1936) came from a North Kent home and was purchased for £820, twice the top estimate, by the same specialist dealer who purchased the Lalique bowl. The figure was impressed “Geschulzt” and “B” within a vase to the base.
The heavy white marble two-handled urn of classical form with spiral reeded body already mentioned was found in a barn among discarded furniture on an Ashford visit by auctioneer Tony Pratt. His instincts that it was valuable were proved correct when it sold to a Paris gallery for £3,600, a multiple of its presale estimate.
Pick of a large selection of timepieces were two 19th century French carriage clocks by Drocourt of Paris, sent for sale by an Isle of Sheppey collector, both of which sold above estimate. More valuable of the two sold to Norfolk dealer for £1,350, while the other, retailed by Ollivant & Botsford of Paris, sold to a local private buyer for £1,400.
Of note in a substantial furniture section was an early Victorian mahogany window seat with bold scrolled ends and black glazed pottery feet which sold to a private buyer from the Weald of Kent for an above estimate £1,650, while a local private commission bidder paid £1,050 for a set of six George IV mahogany dining chairs with curved crest rails decorated with veneered centre panels and drop-in seats upholstered in floral needlework.
Among an eclectic mix of collectors’ items, the sale also produced what is believed to be a world auction price record of £1,000 for one of the iconic papier maché cats made by artists Joan and David De Bethel. The Canterbury Auction Gallery has built a reputation for selling the cats: two in this sale were posted to the saleroom by their Hampshire owner who had heard of the high prices others had achieved there.
Examples are now rare and sought-after, particularly those given away as promotional items and it was one such example that took the cream. With glass eyes and wearing a red jacket and waistcoat, the cat was, according to an inscription, “Made for the Grand Spring Fete at The Legat School, Finchcocks, Goudhurst, Kent, 16th May 1970” and “C was a lovely pussy cat, it’s eyes were large and pale and on its back it had some stripes and several on its tail”. It was dated 1970 and estimated at £500-700, but one local buyer found it irresistible and purchased it as a gift for his wife.
A second, dated 1969, was one of the few made as a marketing gimmick for Herbert Johnson, Hatters of Jermyn Street, London. An inscription read: “It is custom perhaps but it is hard for all that/ when anything’s broken it’s always the cat”. A painted mark to base read “Joan and David De Bethel, Rye, Sussex, Antiente Towne of the Cinque Ports of England”. It sold to an Essex collector on the telephone for £520.