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An 'Eyeful' Lot of Bids: Novelty Ring Makes 17 Times Estimate in £390,000 Silver Auction...

21st October 2020

Lawrences kicked off their three days of Autumn Fine Art sales on October 20th with over 700 lots of silver and vertu. As usual, the variety on offer was considerable and prices reflected keen bidding from Britain and abroad.

An early Victorian salver by William Kerr Reid (1842) combined elegance with superb decoration to make £2875; a four piece tea and coffee service by Messrs Barnard (1828-1837) made £3250; and a fine early 20th Century silvergilt Monteith bowl in Chinoiserie taste from 1913 exceeded hopes of £2000 to make £3500.

Six dinner plates by Robert Garrard, with engraved arms for Viscount Dudley, weighed 126.5oz and made £3750; and a slightly earlier suite of six similar plates, with arms for the Earl of Aylesbury, made the same amount. A pair of George III circular sauce tureens and covers dated from 1810 and bore Scottish arms for a Banff family. These made £3750 and a soup tureen of grand proportions by Richard Sibley (1829) went above hopes of £4500 to make £5250.

Some of the more unusual pieces appealed to collectors’ tastes for distinctive rarities. A Japanese box of generous proportions, decorated with dragons and fitted with an assortment of dressing tables items within, took £6500; two Elizabeth 1 spoons from 1564 and 1583 scooped up bids to make a total of £9750; an 18th Century coffee pot saw its price shoot above hopes of £2000 to make £9375 on  account of its Maltese origins; and three pieces of ecclesiastical silverware – comprising a Queen Anne communion cup, a communion tazza (`paten` or wafer dish) and a communion flagon, all from Newcastle and made in 1702-1707, made £15500.

The day’s top price was paid for a rare Dutch or German pomander from c.1600-1630, the exquisite craftmanship allowing it to open like a segmented orange. These were placed in rooms or carried by hand to ward off infection by emitting aromatic fragrances. The 6cm high lot made £11875 against hopes of £8000-12000. However, the lot that received the most enquiries was an unusually light-hearted novelty ring that allowed a syringe-like plunger to squirt water into an admirer’s eye. Believed to date from about 1830, this forerunner of a million Christmas cracker novelties exceeded hopes of £250 to shoot – like a jet of water – to £4250. The sale realised £390,000 with few lots unsold.


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