Auction Insights with Nigel Kirk
Autumn Quarterly Fine Art Sale
For many Autumn is their favourite season, rightly celebrated as the time of ‘Mists and Mellow fruitfulness’. The brilliant red berries, so plentiful they almost hide the glossy evergreen leaves of the Pyracantha hedge that runs the whole length of the three acres at Mellors and Kirk, is at its very best. It always seems to coincide with Goose Fair.
So too does Mellors and Kirk’s autumn quarterly Fine Art Sale.
From my ‘perch’ on the rostrum, people would rather put their money into a beautifully made object – from a classic watch to a beautiful antique statement piece – than entrust it to a bank.
Almost all of the best auction lots in the Sale this month were won by private individuals.
The lofty oak clock that had belonged to the weird 18th century Lancashire painter and poet ‘Tim Bobbin’ sold for an above estimate £1600. Another, earlier walnut and marquetry longcase clock by Henry Harper of London was also popular selling, despite restoration, for £8200.
The Caribbean born potter Madge Spencer’s pots sold well as did a small vase by Hans Coper. It was chipped in several places, which is why the local seller and I were amazed to see it make £4800.
Art Deco sculptor Ferdinand Preiss’1932’s bronze and ivory creation, The Archer, went for £13,000.
The otherwise unremarkable house in which Emperor Haile Selassie lived in exile in Bath during World War II has just been dignified by a blue plaque. The silver casket he presented to the Governor of Western Australia in 1968 sold to a bidder from Canada for £3000.
Another royal present was the silver gilt and niello cigar box given by King Bhumibol of Thailand to the British Ambassador, Sir Berkeley Gage in 1957. It sold for £3200, the successful bidder seeing off online competition from Thailand.
A superb pair of Japanese silver and carved mixed metals vases of c1900 from a local home went for £5500.
It would be hard to find a better example than the George III silver fitted satinwood tea chest. A local man bidding in person emerged victorious but not before making a winning bid of £7000.
The quality and quantity of silver lots to be seen at Mellors & Kirk has increased over the last year and this Sale was no exception.
Downsizers often remark their children do not want silver but, fortunately, it is highly desirable to collectors around the world.
An odd little silver cup that I fished out of a job lot because I noticed it was a rare example of 18th century Channel Islands silver attracted interest from Jersey before selling to an UK bidder at £1200.
Quite different was the magnificent George III silver soup tureen presented to the Captain of HMS “Serapis” in 1780 which sold for £9500.
A distinctly provincial and certainly uncomfortable pair of mid 18th century mahogany hall chairs did well at £3500. From a Ravenshead house a lovely small regency rosewood writing cabinet made £10000. Research proved two of its three pietre dure (stone pictures) panels were earlier and had been made at the Grand Ducal workshops in Florence.
A broken and restuck but rare survival was the English delft punch bowl. Bearing the date 1715, it sold for £2200.
And my favourite? The Edwardian emerald and diamond dragonfly brooch which fluttered off to a new home for £3000.
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