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The vast variety on offer in one of Lawrences’ popular jewellery auctions in Crewkerne attracts a large amount of keen enquiries and prices at the firm’s recent outing were showing fresh strengths across the market.
Amber, long recorded as merely a decorative resin, has now achieved the status of being acquired like a semi-precious stone and a there were nearly 30 lots of amber jewellery in the sale. Prices ranged from as little as £105 for a necklace of dark honey-coloured beads up to £2860 for a 39cm necklace of eye-catchingly shiny large orange beads. It is not merely the colour that appeals to collectors. “It is the large butterscotch amber beads that seem to be fetching the highest prices,” says Lawrences’s specialist, Miranda Bingham. “Recent interest in amber is predominantly coming from China. In the Buddhist tradition, amber is considered to bring good luck to people. In Chinese medicine it is valued for its calming properties and apparently when warmed by the skin it releases succinic which has natural analgesic properties. The larger the bead the larger the price it seems, and the round beads are the most sought after as they are associated with Buddhist rosaries.”
Perhaps more predictably, diamonds dominated the day with strong bidding for quality stones, often set with other coloured gems such as yellow sapphire (£2150), aquamarine (£1730) and tanzanite (£2270). Although rings are usually the most desirable lots, there was certainly a good demand for other wearable items: a Victorian amethyst and gold necklace (£4780), a Georgian diamond flowerhead brooch (£3220), a diamond set pendant (£5970), a stunning Art Deco emerald and diamond brooch by Cartier (£5490) and a Georgian topaz and gold set riviere necklace (£7400) all sold well. The section’s top price was saved for the last lot: a Belle Epoque black opal and diamond brooch of remarkable lustre and elegance. This was bought for £11,950 [see image].
There was over 500 years of ceramic production on offer in Lawrences recent sale in Crewkerne and bidders paid strong prices for European and Oriental works.
In a well-received selection of Decorative Arts and studio pottery, a William de Morgan dish by Charles Passenger decorated with an iron red figure of a winged lion roared to £2740. The Harry Horlock Stringer collection of studio pottery achieved £14,500 with considerable interest from online bidders pushing prices beyond their estimates.
Other good prices included £830 for a Staffordshire figure of P. T. Barnum’s famous Jumbo the elephant; 1790 for a Meissen hot water jug and cover; £3460 for a Meissen coffee pot and cover finely decorated with travellers and boats in mountainscapes; and £5010 for a group of three Muscovite figurines in traditional dress.
Oriental pieces proved to be popular again and an ivory okimono of two seated men kicking each other made a conversely cheerful price of £1670; an amber carving of a figure amidst rocks leapt to £2500; a pair of famille rose jardinieres and stands blossomed to £2270; and a set of four famille rose tureen stands, Qianlong period, each showing dragons and flaming pearls led the selection to make £14340.
With nearly 900 lots on offer, Lawrences’ recent auction of silver and vertu was guaranteed to offer something of interest to every collector and the strong prices throughout a long day of bidding ensured that very little was left unsold.
A vast assortment of cutlery and flatware constituted the first quarter of the auction and the undoubted highlight was a 13cm long (5inch) butter knife made by The Guild of Handicrafts in 1902. With a finely worked `cage` handle, this little knife appealed sufficiently to make £4420.
Small proved to be beautiful as a pair of Edwardian pepperettes modelled as budgerigars fluttered away at £1490; and a Victorian silver mounted cut glass scent bottle, also in the form of a budgerigar, made £2390. A `castle top` card case by the collectable maker Nathaniel Mills, showing Trafalgar Square, was bid to £4060. Also in demand were impressively crafted items such as a Victorian dessert stand with putti and a lamb upon a circular mirror (£2270); an elegant pair of George II candlesticks by James Gould (1734) which made £2030; a curious Victorian Scottish reception bell modelled on a hunting theme with foxes, hounds, horses and game which hit the right note with a buyer at £1550; and a small collection of domestic wares relating to Napoleon Bonaparte, the Empress Eugenie and Prince Napoleon which comprised copper kitchen wares, napkins and linen pillow cases. This glimpse into life in the Emperor’s household took £950
A popular selection of exquisite `objects of vertu` witnessed some strong bidding with a 9ct gold cigarette case (£1150), a remarkably lifelike cold painted bronze lizard by Bergmann (£1250); a novelty vesta case in the form of a train ticket from Waterloo to Ascot, barely 5cm long (£930); some fine Georgian portrait miniatures included a portrait of The Hon. Mrs Digby (former maid to Queen Charlotte) by Richard Cosway (£2390) and another of a young gentleman ascribed to Andrew Plimer made £2150. A miniature vesta case depicting the celebrated Victorian golfer Tom Morris in coloured enamels hit the spot at £2390. The day’s total was just under £300,000
MONDAY - 9.30am - 12.30pm - CREWKERNE, Head Office and Salerooms
FRIDAY - 9.00am - 11.30am - TAUNTON, The Castle Hotel
First TUESDAY of every month - 9.30am - 12.00noon - LYME REGIS, Martin Diplock
First TUESDAY of every month - 9.30am - 12.00noon - POUNDBURY, Symonds & Sampson
First THURSDAY of every month - 9.30am - 12.00noon - SHERBORNE, The Eastbury Hotel
10.00am - 2.00pm - BATH, The Bath and Country Club
9.30am - 12.00noon - WELLS, Roderick Thomas Estate Agents
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