SELLERS – AND BUYERS – FLUSHED WITH SUCCESS AT THE CANTERBURY AUCTION GALLERIES

17/09/21

Where there’s muck there’s brass, as the old saying goes and the words rang true in a sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries last week. Except it was an antique copper candlestick and now its owner is flush.

According to an inscription underneath its circular base, the eight-inch tall candlestick was unearthed during excavations of a London sewer in 1930. It sold to an American collector bidding on the telephone for £3,000 – 10 times its guide price. 

 Its delighted owner took the heirloom to a free Friday valuation morning at the Kent saleroom where it was judged to have originated in northern Europe in the late 15th or early 16th century. The piece was covered with a good, even verdigris patination, possibly as a result of being discarded in the sewer, which had helped preserve it, and it was contested hotly among a number of bidders both on the internet and the telephone.

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Another “archaeological find” was a Roman child's white marble sarcophagus fragment, deeply carved with four figures, two dancing, one playing the pipes, a basket of flowers and a flagon. Measuring 19.25ins wide x 14ins deep x 9.25ins high, it sold to a local buyer for £2,900 despite one end being a later replacement. 

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Timepieces featured heavily in the three-day auction, notably a fascinating group of pocket watches formed by the late Charles “Edwin” Morris, which sold for a total of £29,750. Mr Morris started collecting as a boy, first Dutch stamps and then Meccano in particular, from which he built extraordinary constructions.

A regular at The Canterbury Auction Galleries, he was forever buying, selling and buying more. “He functioned like a young Arthur Daley in order to finance his ever growing collection,” a family member said. “He was also into aero-modelling, he even made a ferocious catapult for a family member – every boy’s dream. Of course, adulthood intervened and Edwin travelled the world. But he inherited something of his mother's DNA, who was an avid antiques collector long before it was fashionable. Edwin discovered he had a real gift for repairing old watches and clocks, and so his home in Whitstable filled with all things horological, including rare reference books.”

Sharing top honours from the collection was an 18ct gold open-faced lever pocket watch by Donne & Son, 1896, with subsidiary seconds dial and secondary wind, or up-down indicator dial intended to show the amount of power left in the mainspring. It sold for £1,300, as did an 18ct gold fusee chronograph pocket watch, by J. Newton, Leeds, 1860. 

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From other owners, a lady's 18ct gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust wristwatch with gold dial, diamond baton numerals and gold Rolex bracelet was a more modern prize dating from 2007. Retaining its original box with papers and outer box and in virtually new condition, it sold on estimate for £5,000, illustrating the value for money in buying at auction. 

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A Rolex Precision manual wind wristwatch in an 18ct white gold case, the dial with baton numerals and integral mesh bracelet set with approximately 3ct of baguette and marquise cut diamonds, sold for £2,500. It was purchased as a birthday gift for a lucky lady.

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Privately entered pre-owned jewellery is another area offering value for money to auction-goers. To illustrate the point, an amusing 1960s 18ct gold and diamond turtle brooch by Cartier, the creature’s shell set with brilliant cut white diamonds, approximately 1.5ct total, and two small sapphires for eyes sold on estimate for £6,000. Another treasure from a Friday valuation morning, the brooch was signed Cartier, Paris, and had retained its original Cartier Morocco leather box. It was purchased by a local collector who is a regular buyer at The Canterbury Auction Galleries. 

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A stunning 1920s style cocktail bracelet in 18ct white gold set with brilliant cut white diamonds, totalling approximately 11ct, sold on estimate to a London buyer for £4,000.

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Top priced silver lot was a pair of late George III rectangular tureens and covers, by Richard Cook, (London 1808, 137ozs), with gadroon mounts, cornucopia and scroll handles, the covers and bases engraved with crest of a lion's head, each 13ins x 9.5ins. They sold to the trade for £2,200 in a generally buoyant market for antique silver.

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A feature of a strong militaria section was part of a lifelong collection formed by an eminent collector of Japanese swords and other edged weapons, a local man who had recently passed away. The 21 lots raised a total of £9,640, led by a Second World War katana in showato military mounts, signed Kane Yoshi (possible later generation), registered Seki Smith 1944. It sold for £940 against an estimate of £500-700, while another similar katana signed and dated 9th month 16 years of Showa (September 1941) by Kanetoshi Kumazawa, a teacher at the National Technical School, sold for £920.

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In English weapons, a pair of George III .65 calibre flintlock travelling pistols by leading London maker Henry Nock (1741-1804), were notable for their remarkable condition and original colour. Each had an 5ins octagonal damascus steel barrel marked London, a plain steel lock bearing the manufacturer's name, a walnut stock and fore end with chequered grips, and original ram rod. Consigned by a local collector, they sold to a Hong Kong buyer on estimate for £3,000.

It was interesting to note in the ceramics section that later signed pieces of Royal Worcester bone china was in much greater in demand than older traditional pieces of blue and white ware which struggled to sell. Cases in point were a cup and saucer dated 1926 and painted with Highland cattle signed by the great Worcester artist Harry Stinton, which was offered with a signed teapot and cover by F. H. Price, 1926, and a cup and saucer by Edward Townsend, 1928, both painted with fruit. Estimated at £150-200, the lot sold for £2,300, while a small collection comprising a coffee can painted by George Moseley, a saucer and plate both painted by H. Everett, 6.375ins diameter, a plate painted by P. English, 6.25ins diameter, and 10 other pieces, all featuring peaches, apples, grapes, cherries and other fruits sold for £1,000 against an estimate of £200-300. Both lots came from a local deceased estate and were purchased by a Northampton buyer.

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In paintings, a late 16th century Low Countries School oil depicting the Crucifixion on an oak panel 9.5ins x 7.5ins, a period picture in good untouched condition sold to an Irish telephone bidder for a twice top estimate £1,000, much to the delight of another visitor to one of the saleroom’s free Friday valuation mornings. 

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