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An Antiques Trade Gazette `Hammer Highlight` for 2020...

19th January 2021

This gorgeous games piece was chosen to be one of The Antiques Trade Gazette’s `Hammer Highlights` for 2020.  It is particularly gratifying for Lawrences to have sold items in the past twelve months that met with eager approval not just from bidders but from art market professionals, too. This particular lot was small, rare and exquisitely made with a special purpose that now seems almost quaintly historical but, crucially, the special blend of all these factors marked this item as being something rather special – and the price reflected that. “When so much news in the art market focuses upon extraordinary prices paid at auction for Contemporary Art, it is gratifying to find enthusiasm for a small walrus ivory games piece from the 12th Century,” comments Lawrences’ specialist, Anthony Kilroy. “Depicting `The Fox and the Stork` from Aesop’s Fables, this 5.75cm games piece was once part of a set of backgammon – or `table` - pieces. It was made in France and dates from the third quarter of the 12th century, and it was possibly used on the Crusades. It had passed by descent in the family of Dr James Edwin Millard (1823-1894) and its current whereabouts were unknown to the V&A who had had the chance to make a cast of it as long ago as 1876. It was bought for £50,000 (inc BP) by a Continental dealer.”   

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