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A hoard of coins, unearthed by a detectorist at South Petherton in November 2013, smashed expectations when it came up for sale at Lawrences in Crewkerne on May 19th.
The remarkable cache, discovered by Mr George Hughes of South Petherton, comprised over 7500 coins. Despite detectorists’ belief that something lay in the field, Mr Hughes decided to dig down a bit further down than others and, as he did so, the signal on his metal detector got stronger until he came across a couple of loose coins stuck together. This tempted him to think there was a chance that a hoard was nearby so he started back at the top of the field and methodically went through it all, square yard by square yard. He soon found a lot more and after about an hour he had found enough to convince himself that a professional archaeologist would be needed to help finish the dig. So Mr Hughes and the farmer covered over the area and the farmer stood guard throughout the night until the archaeologist arrived with specialist digging equipment. It took an arduous four days’ work to retrieve it all. The hoard was then taken to London for research and eventually it was released for sale three years later.
“To many people’s eyes, these coins may appear unimpressive at first glance,” says Lawrences’ specialist, Jeff Day. “They have lost their silver wash and were only made in base metal. However, they proved to be over 1700 years old and came from an era of great turbulence in England’s history.” Highlights included coins from the two-week reign of Emperor Marius (268AD). “Coins from such a short period of rule are of the utmost scarcity,” observes Jeff. “Marius is said to have died at the hands of an assassin wielding a sword made by the Emperor himself when he had been a humble metalworker.” This group made £9270. Another group from the reign of Leilianus in the same year made £10120. Many other lots, diligently sorted by Jeff into over 100 lots themed by Emperor, ranged from £35 to over £700. The hoard realised over £48,800 including premium. The vendor was in the room to witness the sale and was speechless and shaking as he telephoned the farmer with whom he will be sharing the proceeds.
Elsewhere in the sale, a hammered halfcrown piece from the reign of Charles I was bid to £4020 but even these strong results were eclipsed by a single lot that proved to be the day’s highlight. A rare and complete 1831 proof set of fourteen coins from the reign of King William IV comprised a double sovereign, proof sovereign, a half sovereign, a crown, a half crown, a shilling, a sixpenny, a copper penny, half penny and farthing with four pieces of Maundy Money. It was offered in its original case and was in impressively fine condition throughout. Against hopes of £18000-22000, the lot attracted keen bids before selling for just over £53000 including premium.
The remarkable variety of lots in Lawrences’ two-day Collectors’ auction in Crewkerne ensured interest from around the world and there were strong prices throughout the sale. On the second day, high prices for the following lots show the breadth of the market as well as collectors’ determination to focus upon the rare and the unusual in the finest condition: a 19th Century Noah’s Ark with a good complement of painted wooden animals made £1760; a Jumeau `Triste` doll was accompanied by her dome-topped trunk with extra outfits within (£3530); a Steiff teddy bear in a snug red jacket made £1460 but, more unusually, a Steiff polar bear found a warm reception at £2310 and a Steiff donkey on wheels made £480; a cased microscope by Powell & Lealand with a cabinet of slides made £2920; an oil painting by Alan Fearnley depicting David Coulthard’s victory in the Australian Grand Prix in 2003 raced to £1190; an impressive moose’s head with antlers spanning over a metre made £1580; a Qing dynasty silk Kesi weave Chinese robe from Trent Manor found an Asian buyer at £7320; and an exquisite book of antique embroidered flowers and birds worked by the widow of Captain Alexander Hood was bid to £4390.
A good selection of high quality furniture from the collection of the late John Bragge (1930-2015) in East Sussex proved to be the predicted highlights of a large 500-lot auction of clocks, works of art and furniture at Lawrences in April.
A Victorian mahogany longcase clock by Josh Kern & Co of Swansea struck the right note with collectors and was bought for £2,920. Four rather different lots of chairs each went over estimate and showed how quality from all eras is still in demand: an oak wainscot chair (17th Century and later) made £3,050, an Irish elbow chair of Chippendale style made £3,780, a pair of Howard & Son armchairs met with the usual keen demand to make £4,630 and a `Gainsborough style` mahogany chair exceeded its estimate to make just over £2,000. This last price was helped by its provenance to Burton Pynsent house in Curry Rivel and its association with a former Prime Minister, William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham for whom the chair was made in 1765. Two very different chests also went higher than expectations: a William and Mary oyster veneered chest showed more than enough period charm to take £3,410 against hopes of £1,800 whilst a Damascus chest elaborately inlaid with mother of pearl topped its £800 estimate to make £2,440.
Lots from John Bragge’s estate yielded the day’s top prices and the main attractions. A pair of Empire pollard oak stools by Jacob Freres made £4,140; an early 19th Century dumb waiter, possibly by Gillows, took £6,100; a Regency pollard oak bookcase cabinet in the manner of George Bullock made £11,100; and a fine quality papier mache work cabinet on stand, attributable to John Joseph Mechi and possibly shown at the Great Exhibition in 1851, made £9,020.
Bragge’s good eye contributed almost one quarter of the sale total of just over £250,000
Lawrences’ reported keen interest throughout their 300-lot auction of pictures in April, with reassuringly strong results for Victorian pictures (prices for some of which have been slack in recent years).
A good print from Thomas Daniell’s `Oriental Scenery` depicting Cheringhee in Calcutta (1798) doubled expectations to make £1,120 to an Indian buyer. The watercolour section was notable for three collections of folios from various consignors. The late William Young Carman’s collection of military prints and watercolours comprised nine lots that totalled £12,900 with a folio of ten watercolours of soldiers of the Indian army making £6,580. A private collection of cartoons and caricatures from 1770-1930’s drew international enquiries and totalled £6,730 whilst a selection of eight folios from another private collection of similar subjects realised £9,760, the top price being £2,800 for a rare selection of works by the talented but tragic Richard Newton (1777-1798). A rather cruel caricature of Oscar Wilde by Sir Max Beerbohm made £8,290, helped by superb provenance. Amongst the wide variety of oil paintings on offer, a portrait of Sir Thomas More was derived from Holbein’s famous original of 1527 and made £6,830; an atmospheric view of shipping on the Thames by Claude T. S. Moore (1888) was sold to a buyer in China for £7,070; and a Netherlandish triptych from the 17th Century, depicting the Adoration of the Magi, made £4,500.
There was further variety amongst a selection of modern pictures: a watercolour by the American William Trost Richards took £9,760; an oil by the Polish artist Tadeusz Makowski made £4,880; an oil by the Australian artist Kevin `Pro` Hart made £2,300; and a small oil by the American Richard Hayley Lever made £4,750. All these were bought by foreign buyers on the telephone or the internet.
Thirty three lots donated to raise money for an exhibition at The Museum of Somerset in Taunton (on behalf of The South West Heritage Trust) exceeded all expectations to make £22,340. The top price was £3,780, paid for an early Cornish work by Fred Hall.
The highest price for the whole picture sale was the £19,520 paid for a fine view of the Alkmaar Canal in Amsterdam by Edward Seago, nearly double the low estimate.
Lawrences in Crewkerne had a hugely successful auction of Decorative Arts and Ceramics in April and a host of high prices produced one of the most successful sale totals of recent years.
In the Decorative Arts section, an Art Deco bronze and ivory dancer by Samuel Lipchytz doubled hopes to make £2,920 whilst a more light hearted pair of Venini Latimo glass birds designed by Fulvio Bianconi made £1,950.
In the Ceramics section, a Spode pot pourri and vase garniture raced above its estimate to make £2,920; and a pair of New Hall hard paste porcelain comports from the 1780’s, decorated by Fidele Duvivier, exceeded all expectations to make £17,080.
Further items from the collection of Sir Thomas Hohler at Trent Manor near Sherborne provided the day’s highlights. The pieces were collected by the Hohler family whose background was in banking but they moved into Ambassadorial roles around the globe from the late 19th century onwards with postings in the Far East, Middle East and South America. An outstanding group of Oriental items brought in collectors and dealers from near and far and the results achieved reflect the quality of the Hohler collection: a cloisonné panel made £5,120; a blue and white porcelain vase made £4,880; a bronze censer made £4,020; a squat ovoid bowl made £6,580; and two carved and gilded figures of Buddha made £8,050.
Four five-figure prices from Trent Manor led the day: an 18th Century Chinese flambé vase in blue and purple glazes made £12,200; a Dehua figure of Guanyin, possibly 17th Century, made £18,900; and two rhinoceros horn libation cups ended the sale on a high note by making £19,520 and £15,860.
The combined total for the ceramics section, consigned from various vendors, was over £220,000 with very little unsold.
Lawrences’ Spring auction of jewellery in Crewkerne comprised over 400 lots and there were plenty of bidders on the telephones, in the room and online to ensure that the event went well.
A mixed lot of jewellery included brooches, clasps, bracelets and rings and made £3,170 to get the sale off to a flying start. An amber necklace, the sales of which have been an unexpected focus of strength in recent sales at Lawrences, made just over £3,000. Good results were reported for gold and pearls but fancy stones achieved the highest prices: a pink sapphire and diamond cluster ring made £2,920; a cased pair of sapphire and diamond drop earrings made £3,400; a ruby and diamond three stone ring took £3,050; and a sapphire and diamond cluster ring made £6,340. A 1.06 carat diamond solitaire made £6,100 and a pair of ruby and diamond ear clips made £6,100 too.
The sale’s top price was paid for an alexandrite and diamond cluster ring, the principal stone weighing 3.77 carats measuring almost a full centimetre across. A bidder expressed his keen interest live online and secured the ring for £18,300.
Lawrences' in Crewkerne began their busy week of Spring sales with 570 lots of silver and vertu and items from around the world attracted keen bids and high prices in a very successful auction. A 19th Century provincial Russian spoon lacked any marks to provide a clue to its maker but had sufficient quality to take £1,950. Russian interest again saw £6,100 paid for a 19th Century tea kettle on a stand by the eminent Tsarist silversmith, Karl Faberge. A decorative and unusual silver mounted coconut tankard, its body formed from a hollow coconut shell, was probably made in Germany in the last quarter of the 16th Century. Although we accept them as commonplace today, a coconut in the 16th Century was a scarce and exotic novelty and its shell was too unusual to consider discarding. This lot came from a successful sale of contents from the collection of Sir Thomas Hohler at Trent Manor near Sherborne and was bid to £5,360. A further surprise was an Austrian box for powder or snuff, made in Vienna in about 1925. It measured just 6.5cm across and the cover was decorated with a pierced detail of palms and sand dunes. Attributable to a silversmith called Dagobert Peche in the celebrated Wiener Werkstatte, this exceeded its £300-400 estimate to make £5,000. Top honours in the selection of vertu went to a Chinese fan decorated in silver gilt and with enamelled motifs of flowers and boats. Keen bidding saw this make £2,800. Closer to home, a rare West Country chocolate pot by Samuel Wilmot of Plymouth was hallmarked in Exeter in 1740 and made £2,920.
With over 200 years of combined experience, our Specialist Valuers will be available to value your antiques at our Head Office and Salerooms in CREWKERNE, EVERY MONDAY - 9.30am - 12.30pm.
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