Tuesday 21st February, 2017
One of the UK's principal Fine Art Auctioneers, with General Sales, 
Fine Art Sales, Collectors Sales and Sporting Sales

Specialists In Their Fields...

Whether you want to sell (or buy) diamonds and daggers, Meissen and mezzotints or toy trains and tribal art you will find that our specialists at Lawrences in the glorious West Country know just how to put the action into auctions.  Using the latest marketing technology, we achieve the best prices.

With over 300 years of combined expertise, much of it learned in the London auction rooms, we make it our business to know lots about your lots.


A rare Chinese Tibetan Temple Vase, 26.5cm/10.5 ins high, exceeded all expectations when it was offered for auction at Lawrences Fine Art Auctioneers of Crewkerne last week.

Consigned for sale by a Wiltshire gentleman whose ancestor acquired it while working as a solicitor in Shanghai in the early 20th century, it had spent the last thirty years on his brother’s mantelpiece. The instantly recognisable shape is associated with 18th Century design and the vase carried marks purporting to date the object to the reign of the Emperor Jiaqing (1760-1820). A swathe of pre-sale enquiries from around the world and a bank of telephone bidders on the day indicated that a strong price should be anticipated. However, when auctioneer Neil Grenyer opened the bidding, interest from online bidders rapidly exceeded £200,000 before those on the telephones and in the room, who were itching to bid on the vase, had their first opportunity to join in. At £240,000, there were still four bidders in contention - three on the telephone and one online – and the vase eventually sold to a Hong Kong- based dealer who was bidding over the telephone.


Lawrences’ Winter Fine auction spanned four days and comprised 2700 lots so it was a joy to see that the week’s highest price was reserved for the very last lot.

Following on from the pictures auction, works of art, clocks and furniture finished off a busy Friday (20th). A French gilt metal and glass mantel clock featured a winged god in a chariot pulled by swans: this elegant piece made £2800. A bronze of the infant Hercules with serpents was based upon a known variant by Francesco Fanelli (1590-1653) and this attracted many bids to make £8780. With a provenance from Limington House in Somerset, a Regency rosewood breakfront wardrobe, nearly 250cm wide, made just over £3000, selling in line with expectations, and an 18th Century Dutch marquetry bureau bookcase far exceeded hopes and made £14760. From further afield, a Chinese export black lacquered cabinet on stand made £3900. The day concluded with a small selection of rugs and carpets that included a large, room-sized Ziegler Mahal carpet from West Iran. Discovered in an out-house by Lawrences’ Director of Valuations Chris Flower during a routine home visit, there were some issues with its condition. However, these didn’t deter two determined internet bidders, from either side of the Atlantic, who ensured that the carpet topped the day with a multiple-estimate £19500 - perhaps a reflection of the strength of the American Dollar against Sterling.


Nearly 300 lots of pictures and prints were under the hammer at Lawrences in Crewkerne recently, spanning five centuries of art.

With vigorous bidding across the board, the sale was over 85% sold and there were many high prices, notably from collections with good private provenance.

A bracing, breezy watercolour by Charles Napier Hemy, entitled `The Little Trawler` had been a Royal Academy exhibit in 1917 and sailed to £8540 whilst a rather different selection of twenty works of paper by celebrated illustrator and cartoonist Henry Mayo Bateman included a humorous drawing of `The Old Mountaineers`. This showed old retired climbers in a club seated atop chairs in the form of craggy pinnacles and the work reached its summit when it was bought for just over £4000. The collection of twenty drawings realised £24000.

A good group of 19th Century Continental pictures from a collection in the Channel Islands made a total of over £56000 and the top price was the £10,900 paid for a busy beach scene by Charles Leickert and the £10000 paid for a superbly detailed small oil of a minerals collector by Austrian artist Johann Hamza. Another collection from a London vendor included a big, bright still life by Mary Fedden. This 1988 oil led the collection by making £12800 (and the collection realised just over £39000.

Lastly, the studio of the late artist Ronald Jesty (1926-2016) comprised 25 lots of his work, some of it offered in big folios of unframed watercolours and sketches. Much admired by collectors in Somerset and Dorset for the neatness of his draughtsmanship, the inventiveness of his subject matter and the quality of his art teaching, Jesty’s work is nonetheless little known at auction. Every lot exceeded expectations but the top price was not paid for a typical landscape but for a remarkably detailed small picture of matchbook souvenirs. This was the most popular lot in the collection and one local private collector decided to strike out other bidders by bidding it to £730. The studio realised £9700 and introduced many new collectors to Jesty’s skills.


Part of the appeal of Lawrences' auctions of ceramics, glass and Oriental works of art is the remarkable variety on offer, comprising works from around the world that span many centuries of manufacture.

Highlights from the firm's recent sale reflect that: an extensive Mason's ironstone service just exceeded its estimate to take £1500; an English porcelain figure group, possibly Derby, depicted putti and made just over £3400; a George III glass wine bottle with a seal for `John Hancock 1791` was bid to £1150 by an American collector; and two collections of small Japanese netsukes in carved ivory made over £36000 with the top price of £8780 paid for a group that included a carved wooden tiger just 3cm high. The sale concluded on a high note as a Chinese libation cup, of a warm red/brown colour, finely carved from rhino horn and decorated with dragons and foliage, was contested by many Chinese bidders before the hammer fell at a price of £48,800.


Lawrences' auctions of Jewellery are always keenly viewed and demand from private buyers has been rising but results from the firm's recent sale show a great strength right across the board and there were many high prices to indicate that gold and diamonds are more popular than ever.

A lady's diamond and gold wristwatch by Boucheron ticked over expectations to make £5120 and a jade and diamond pendant was just the right balance of quality and colour to make £10,900. A gold micromosaic necklace decorated with birds and flowers in minutely cut `tesserae` took £9270.  A Victorian diamond cruciform pendant set with cushion-shaped old brilliant-cut stones attracted determined bidding to make £7320 but a trio of high prices at the end of the sale proved to be amongst the highest of the sale: an emerald and diamond cluster ring exceeded hopes of £4000-6000 to make over £9200; a Georgian diamond tiara with rose-cut diamonds exemplified elegant style and made £15,250 whilst a 5.5 carat emerald-cut diamond solitaire ring sparkled brightly as the price reached just over £22,500.

Silver Shines at Auction...

Over 570 lots of silver were on offer at Lawrences in Crewkerne recently and, after a very busy view with scores of viewers and hundreds of enquiries, the auctioneers found buyers for most lots, reporting a keen level demand that reflects a bustling and buoyant market.

The sale was notable for a number of small private collections within it that proved to be just what buyers wanted. A collection of modern sculpted animal figure groups by Patrick Mavros of Zimbabwe all sold, with the top price being £1000 for a pair of bull elephants, just under 7-inches across.

A collection of modern silver items by celebrated designer Stuart Devlin did well, with £700 paid for a silvergilt quaich from 1972. A small collection of cream jugs saw a double estimate £410 paid for an 1831 example by Charles Fox and a rare group of silver by the Courtaulds, a Huguenot family of silversmiths, also sold well with a George II `rocaille` kettle on stand boiling up to £1950. A private collection of snuff boxes and snuff mulls was led by a William & Mary snuff or spice box from c.1690 set with a polished agate that made £1700. An appealing group of fine portrait miniatures from a private collection made strong prices, with a dashing portrait of a young gentleman by George Engleheart doubling hopes to take £2070.

Three further items from other sources helped the sale to an impressive total: an 18th Century Armenian saucer with enamel decoration made £6100; a beautifully crafted tiny silver vesta case in the form of a skull made £2400; and a small enamelled silver vesta case in the form of a Hussars officer within a sentry box made collectors stand to attention when it was bought for £4140.


When John and Patricia McKenzie began collecting vesta cases in the `960s, they could not have anticipated that they would eventually acquire over 2500 of the desirable little match holders. After half a century of keen buying, the first half of the collection went under the hammer at Lawrences in Crewkerne recently and met with keen enthusiasm from a new generation of devotees.

There were 1300 individual cases on offer in an enormous variety of types and styles. “There were gold vestas, enamelled silver vestas, figurals, the so-called ‘go-to-beds’, book match holders, matchbox holders, combination vestas, trick-opening vestas, Japanese & American vestas, glass, porcelain, bronze, brass, tin, celluloid wrap-arounds and  French `naughty nineties` vestas - in fact just about every sort you can think of,” enthuses Alex Butcher, Lawrences’ specialist who had catalogued each and every one. “The inventiveness of the designers was remarkable. There were vesta cases in the shape of parasols, mussel shells, poodles, post boxes, tables, trousers, frogs, gloves, Prime Ministers, pigs, cricket bats and bullets.”

Carefully grouped into nearly 500 lots in order to maximise their appeal, the collection was nearly a sell out and top prices were paid for a silver case set with a small clock (£870); an enamelled silver example with a cricket scene (£1150); a 9-carat gold case for James Forman `Tod` Sloan, a leading jockey (£820); a silver case with an enamelled yacht decoration on the cover (£1220); and a silver case with a guardsman in a sentry box (£2560).  An electroplated example in the form of an old crumpled boot showed how imaginative a vesta case could be and this marched its way to £120, whilst a rare vesta in the form of a stack of sixpences well exceeded its face value to take just over £600.

Free Valuation Mornings...

With over 300 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.




Taunton Valuation Mornings...

Simon Jones (General Valuations & Collectors Items) and one of our Jewellery Specialists, will be available to value your items EVERY FRIDAY - 9.00am - 11.30am at The Castle Hotel, Castle Green, TAUNTON.






Minehead Home Visits...

FREE HOME VISITS - Chris Flower will be in MINEHEAD on the LAST THURSDAY OF EACH MONTH to value your antiques. Complete house contents and attic clearances arranged.  Please call to make an appointment. Tel: 01460 73041.





Wells Valuation Mornings...

Four of our specialists will be in WELLS at Roderick Thomas Estate Agents , 1 Priory Road, Wells, BA5 1SR EVERY QUARTER to value your antiques - 9.30am - 12.00noon. No appointment necessary.