Spring Post-Sale Report



The Spring two-day sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries produced many notable highlights.

Among the most appealing was an important early 19th century Paris Dihl porcelain plaque, painted with a half-length portrait of the Empress Josephine, probably inspired by a miniature by Ferdinand Quajila (1780-1853) now in the Musée Jacquemart-Andre, in Paris.

The plaque, signed ‘M. fre de Dihl a Paris’ and measuring 8.5ins x 5.5 inches, showed the empress, first wife of Napoleon I, wearing pearl earrings and necklace and a double tiara with an Imperial crown, while a marble column in the background, was inscribed ‘Josephine, Imperatrice’.

Handwritten labels on the back read: ‘The Empress Josephine? on Dihl, China purchased at Christie's and Co's, Kings Street St. James, 18th December 1869’ and ‘Belonged to Cyril Warren Lee Pemberton. Purchased by his father Charles Davies Pemberton’. Dismissed by its owner as just another piece among a collection of continental pottery, the plaque sold to a Belgian telephone bidder for £7,200.

Christophe Dihl (1752-1830) established a factory making hard-paste porcelain of the highest quality in Paris in 1781. Royal protection enabled the factory to make and sell coloured and gilt porcelain and despite the monopoly granted to Sèvres in 1766, it enjoyed considerable early success, surviving the Revolution. However, large loans in 1807 and 1809 failed to stave off financial problems and the business closed in 1828, leaving Dihl a ruined man.

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Paintings and works of art from the Villa Le-Pavernule, the Italian home of the man who established the BBC in India in the 1930s were also well received. Pick of the collection for the sale was a striking bronze figure titled ‘Comedy and Tragedy’ by Alfred Gilbert (1854-1934), the standing naked male figure wearing the mask of Pathos and holding the mask of Comedy in his hands.

Mounted on an octagonal green antico pedestal on turned ebonised plinth, the 18-inch figure sold for to a London buyer £5,800. Gilbert is best known for the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, commonly known as Eros, in Piccadilly Circus.


Most valuable painting in the collection was an oil on canvas by John Copley (1875-1950) titled ‘The Salt Mine’ and depicting nine elongated figures of miners shovelling salt, (41ins x 34ins, signed "Copley" to lower right corner). It was purchased by a local private buyer for £4,500.

Described as “brilliant but impetuous… very highly creative”, Lionel Fielden revolutionised India’s humble radio service when still in its infancy in the 1930s, having it renamed as All India Radio.


Antique metalwork from other owners took substantial prices, whether it was decorative, military, naval or novelty. Most wanted was a fine Meiji period silver filigree, enamel, gold lacquer and shibyama footed dish, the central panel decorated with herons beside flowering branches, the filigree rim with applied enamel flowers, 10ins (25.3cm) diameter, the signed mother-of-pearl seal signed Hosen. From a local estate, it sold to a London-based buyer for £4,500.

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Among militaria was a late 18th century Russian silver medal, struck to commemorate the partitioning of Polish territory and its acquisition by Russia of Catherine the Great. By Carl Leberecht (1755-1827) and Johann Balthasar Gass, the obverse of the still crisp medal showed a shoulder-length portrait of Catherine, while the reverse depicted a double-headed Russian imperial eagle wearing the medallion of St. George, its talons holding two maps of the returned lands dated 1793 and 1772, with the legend in Russian - "What Has Been Lost is Now Returned".

A three-way battle for ownership ensued between Russia, Hungary and the UK, an Essex collector triumphing with a bid of £2,100 against an estimate of £600-800.


Closer to home, two ships’ bells rung up some determined bidding, “HMS Maidstone 1938” proving the more valuable at £2,200 over “HMS Lion 1960” at £1,500, both bought by the same local collector. The former was built by John Brown & Company, Clydebank, commissioned 5th May 1938, and originally served as a submarine depot ship of the Royal Navy. She was scrapped in May 1978. The latter was launched as the Minotaur-class “H.M.S. Defence” in 1944, and completed and renamed in 1960. She was scrapped in 1975.


On a lighter note, an extremely well-modelled cast silver figure of an officer of the 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, later known as The Seaforth Highlanders, drew bids from collectors of Scottish regimental silver after being left for sale by a visitor to one of the saleroom’s free Friday valuation mornings.

The 13.5-inch figure wearing full Highland dress and carrying a sword and dirk and with a badge worded "Cuidich 'n Righ 78" (Help the King) was after the original by G Halliday and made by Elkington & Co, Birmingham (1911, 56ozs) a hardwood plinth bearing a silver presentation plaque worded - "Presented to E.G. Hay Esq on his Marriage by the Officers of the Seaforth Highlanders, June 11th 1912". It sold to an Essex bidder for £2,100.



The naval theme continued with a rare late 18th century London delft blue and white plate inscribed “Admiral Keppel Forever", the centre painted with a sought-after shoulder-length portrait of the famous admiral, within a circular cartouche of stylised foliage, the rim similarly decorated, the wording in manganese. Another valuation day find, it sold to a West Sussex buyer for an above estimate £1,600.


A rare but significant survivor from the late 16th or early 17th century was a fragment of a Flemish tapestry woven in now faded colours with three representations of God, each crowned figure with right hand raised in benediction and carrying a sceptre. An angel to the left carried a celestial clock and palm leaf, while two attendants and various horses populated the lower section.

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From a local home, it sold to a London buyer for £4,400, double the presale estimate, while an impressive early 19th century silk and velvet appliqué bedspread sold to another London buyer for £1,450. Purchased by its local owner some 40 years ago and still in excellent condition, the bedspread had a central design of a basket of bright flowers, birds and insects, within a circular motif of stylised flowers and leaves, the outer field with a running design of stylised bees forming four frames with a shepherdess and sheep, swans on water, leaves, flowers and insects. The border had a running design of stylised flowers, while the upper part was worked in yellow silk with the initials "E.B" and the date 1836.


Oriental rugs and carpets made a welcome return to the list of top prices, a Kazak Lori Pambak rug woven worked in colours with three bold octagonal motifs, within hooked borders and two human figures, on a dark wine ground, within multi-stripe borders of filled and trailing leaf design, 86ins x 63ins, sold to a Turkish internet bidder for £1,600 and a good Kashan carpet woven in appealing pastel shades with bold trailing leaf ornament on an ivory ground within seven stripe borders filled with conforming trailing leaf and floral ornament, 12ft 3ins x 8ft 6ins, sold to a private buyer for £1,350.


In the saleroom’s February auction, a work by Wimbledon-born John Bratby (1928-1992) titled "Carnival Characters in Flooded St. Mark's Square, Venice", earned its position on the catalogue cover to sell for £4,800, prompting another owner to consign "Gondola Resting by a Doorway". The Venetian canal scene, an oil on canvas, showed the vessel adjacent to a palace. It measured 44ins x 34ins, and was signed, "Bratby" and dated '89. Its owner’s reward was a winning bid of £4,200 from a London internet bidder against an estimate of £2,000-3,000.

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The jewellery section of the same contained some stunning gemstones, but it was a Chinese agate carving of a young boy and a duck seated beneath a lotus flower that sold the thunder. Measuring just 1.375ins (3.5cm) high and with amber coloured inclusions, it sold to a Hong Kong-based buyer for £3,700, well above estimate


Top priced piece of jewellery proved to be a good quality late 19th century emerald and diamond-set brooch or pendant at will set in a scrolling gold and silver mount suspending an old-cut 1.2ct diamond below two further diamonds, the body set with three further diamonds and a small quantity of rose cut diamonds, highlighted by two tear-cut and one circular-cut emerald. It sold to a Surrey buyer for £3,000.


Most wanted among clocks was a good late 19th century mahogany and gilt brass mounted mantel clock of 18th century design sent for sale from a local home. The five-inch arched brass dial had a silvered chapter ring, chime/silent, chime selector and regulation dials, and chimed on eight bells and a gong. It sold to a London buyer for £1,600.




Top price in furniture, meanwhile, was the £1,500 paid by a local private buyer for a small George II walnut bureau inlaid with herringbone bandings. The shaped was interior fitted four small drawers, pigeon holes, central cupboard and a well, above two short and two long drawers. The bureau came from a local estate, while an imposing 17th century steel Armada chest inherited by its owner sold to a Sussex buyer for £1,050. The price was aided by its small size and the traditional ornate lock mechanism, throwing five bolts, which retained its key and was still in working order.

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