Previous News - Chinese buyers take cream of the crop at The Canterbury Auction Galleries


Any notions that the ardour among Chinese collectors and dealers for buying in the UK had cooled were dispelled during the Two Day sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries when almost all the top lots were purchased by bidders in the East or with associations there.

Top of the shop was a rhinoceros horn libation cup dating from the Qing Dynasty Kangxi period of 1662-1722. The four-inch tall cup doubled its presale estimate to sell to a buyer in China for £84,000. It was sold with a letter from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency dated March 17, 2014 confirming that it met EU guidelines and giving authority for it to be sold by auction.

The cup was carved with a prunus branch handle and decorarted in low relief with carvings of prunus trees in a rocky landscape within key fret borders.

Equally satisfying was the £30,000 – multiples of their presale estimates – paid for each of two watercolours attributed to the Chinese artist Zhao Shao’Ang (1905-1998) which by repute had been purchased directly from the artist in a selling exhibition in Chengdu, in Sichuan Province. One showed a river landscape with arched bridge and trees, while the other was a mountain river landscape with boat in the middle distance.

Sadly, the elderly vendor who had inherited the paintings from his father had lost a piece of paper attached to one giving details of their original purchase, making reliable authorship difficult. The subject was very different to the artist’s normal work, while one was foxed and the other unframed, but this did not deter the buyers, one from Mainland China, the other a Chinese collector living in the U.S.

A striking carved celadon jade vase and cover modelled as a bird in the “Archaistic” style which dated from the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was sure to attract Chinese buyers and this indeed was the case, the winner being based in London. It had been inherited from an elderly relative by its lady owner living in London who was rewarded with an above estimate winning bid of £9,800.

In the same section, a local collector received a £5,200 bid from a Chinese buyer for his blue and white two-handled porcelain baluster vase in the Yuan manner decorated with swimming carp and other fish among leaves. Another multiple of the guide price, the body of the vase had been badly broken and repaired.

Interestingly, Chinese buyers were keen to secure some of the best silver and jewellery in the sale. Most valuable among their purchases was the above estimate £2,500 paid by a buyer now living in Manchester for an Edward VII four-piece tea and coffee service. The tea and coffee pots, sugar basin and milk jug were each decorated with embossed cartouches, and floral and scroll ornament, standing on claw feet. Assayed (tested) in London in 1901, the service was by George Perkins and had a gross weight of 105 ounces. It had been taken to the saleroom on one of the free Friday morning valuation days.

In jewellery, a modern silver-mounted natural Columbian emerald and diamond dress ring caught the eye of a Chinese buyer living in Canterbury, paying £15,000 to secure it. The square cut emerald weighing 5.34cts was shouldered by three small brilliant cut diamonds and a baguette cut diamond (total estimated weight .70cts).

A London specialist dealer secured the top jewellery lot, however: an early 20th century diamond-set "Tree in a Pot" jabot pin in the Cartier manner, set with nine marquise-cut and 14 baguette-cut diamonds with a total estimated weight of 5cts. It sold for £26,000 against an estimate of £8,000-12,000. The pin had been inherited in the 1920s by an individual whose family had connections in New York and Paris.

Another London buyer paid £4,400 for a 1920s cultured pearl, emerald and diamond-set four part strand necklace from the same vendor. Each strand was set with a carved emerald bead surmounted by a diamond set collar clasp interlinking to form a strand of 1905mm with a total of 179 pearls of varying but not graduated pearls.

Chinese porcelain and Japanese works of art looked set to remain in the West. A pair of “Verte Imari” circular dishes decorated with vases of flowers, birds and insects from a Belgian private vendor sold to a London dealer on top estimate for £3,000, despite one having a repaired hairline crack, while a larger charger in the same palette and in good condition from a French home sold to a New York buyer for £6,200, more than double its guide price.

Local private buyers, meanwhile, purchased the pick of a number of good Meiji period (1868-1912) Japanese ivory figures, best of which depicted seven figures and two cranes in a dragon boat, which measured just 2.35ins high but sold for £3,000, a multiple of its estimate.

Close behind at £2,300 was a figure of Jurojin, who is associated with longevity as one of the lucky seven gods. He was holding a dancing puppet of a small boy, and shared an oval base with three rats, while a group depicting Handaka Sonja, one of the 16 special disciples of the Buddha, with his dragon and four Oni (devils) around his feet sold for £1,350.

Most valuable painting was an imposing watercolour portrait of Eloisa, one of his favourite models, in a Spanish landscape, by William Russell Flint (1880-1969). It had been purchased from The Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond Street, London, in May 1953, and exhibited at Royal Academy in 1962. It sold to a Leicestershire collector for £9,200 against an estimate of £6,000-8,000.

A Kent collector chose this sale to sell a substantial collection of pottery rabbits and other animals by the Bourne Denby factory. Fellow collectors fell on them with great enthusiasm, paying a total of £3,190 against an expectation of £2,260 with the result that the owner was “over the moon”. Most were purchased by two different collectors from Derbyshire. Yellow was favourite, the most valuable single bunny standing 10.25 inches tall, which sold for £480, followed by pink. Something to do with Easter, perhaps?

The same vendor also offered two Clarice Cliff Bizarre “Marigold” pattern pieces: an Isis shape vase, which sold to a Yorkshire telephone bidder for £3,000 and a charger, purchased by a Worcester bidder for £2,200.

On a more serious note, and from the same home, were two Goldscheider pottery figures: Fazination by Wilhelm Thomasch, circa 1922, and a dancing lady by Stephen Dakon, circa 1936/7, which sold to two different French bidders for £5,100 and £850 respectively.

A rare bone china plate from the famous and historically important “Shakespeare Service”, executed by Kerr & Binns specifically to appeal to Irish nobility and shown at the Dublin Exhibition of 1853 sold to a Derby collector for £1,000.

Two 19th century painted porcelain panels of pink and yellow roses in oils by C. F. Hurton sold to a Manchester for £1,000 and £1,050 respectively. Hurton is recorded as having worked form Copeland Spode.

In glass, an example of the iconic Archer car radiator mascot by René Lalique, also seen at a Friday valuation morning, sold to a Dorset collector for an above estimate £1,300.

Mantle clocks were most wanted in that section of the sale, the most valuable being two from a local estate, which sold to local private collectors for £3,600 and £3,000 respectively. Dearer of the two was a George III mahogany cased example by Thomas Ross of Hull, with subsidiary calendar dial and strike/silent dial in the arch and a two-train movement with alarum and verge escapement. Ross is recorded working 1770-1795. Another from the same period, this one by London maker William Lindsey, the two-train fusee movement with circular silvered dial and striking on a bell, dated from circa 1800.

An early George III lady's mahogany kneehole dressing table with one deep drawer above a central recessed cupboard and flanked by six small drawers sold to a local buyer for £1,800, while a Belgian buyer secured the best early Victorian mahogany extending dining table whose three extra leaves allowed it to extend to a sizeable 9 feet four inches, It sold for an above estimate £1,650.

Two 19th century French gilt framed overmantel mirrors each with crossed quiver and flaming torch and floral swag and putti crestings sold to a London architectural company for £2,400, but might have made more had it not been for the damage suffered while they had been kept in the owner’s garage for the last few years. Even with the damage, they exceeded their estimate of £800-1,200.

Highlight of the collectors’ section of the sale was 10 lots of portrait miniatures, which sold to various buyers for a total of £5,110, while a collection of 31 Brooklands Automobile Racing Club enamel Member Badges with cords and guest lapel badges for the years 1929 - 1939 and 1940-1942 doubled their estimate to sell for £1,650. They were purchased as a birthday present for the buyer’s brother. The vendor's father had raced at Brooklands and he always got a second badge for his wife.

Rarest collectables, however, were two competition casting reels by Hardy Bros of Alnwick, holders of at least 10 royal warrants as suppliers of fishing tackle. The aluminium reels, model numbers HM8 and XH1, were never on sale to the general public and so did not have names. They were, in fact, prototypes loaned or given to individuals whom the company believed would do well in casting competitions and therefore promote the business. Each estimated at £500-700, they were purchased by a Hertfordshire collector who had travelled to the sale specially for £3,600 and £3,000 respectively, outbidding a representative from Hardy’s museum who was surprised at the result.

Entries of good quality fine art, antiques and collectors’ items are now invited for the next Two Day sale on June 10-11, the deadline for which is May 2. For further information, please contact the auctioneer on 01227 763337

Back To News