March Fine & Decorative Arts Sale – auction report

RICHARD Winterton Auctioneers’ first quarterly auction of Fine & Decorative Arts for 2019 was a wonderful way to step into spring, writes Sarah Leedham, with a 93.7 per cent selling rate, 1,116 online bidders, three busy viewing days and record sale total.

The jewellery, silver and wines and spirits accounted for half of the 778 lots in the catalogue and made up the first day of the auction, with day two including ceramics, glass, works of art, taxidermy firearms, pictures and furniture.

The first 75 lots of the sale were a single owner collection of loose gemstones, which included diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, garnets and many other gem, mineral and crystal specimens. The top selling lot from this section was a collection of blue sapphires (pictured below) of mixed hues and shapes, after a two-way battle between a room bidder and an internet bidder the hammer fell at £2,600.

A single owner collection of over forty lots of Scandinavian silver and enamelled jewellery was a sell-out, totalling over £4,600, once again jewellery from the second half of the 20th Century proving its worth as wearable art.

The more traditional jewellery section of the sale saw pre-estimates being smashed. The top lot being an 18ct gold single stone diamond ring, the diamond being 3.30ct, after a fierce bidding battle it sold to a commission bidder for £3,000. Finding a delighted new owner was a modern 18 carat gold collar set with Tanzanite and diamonds, it flew above the £1,000-1,500 and realised £2,900.

Another strong result was seen in the watches section when a well-worn gents stainless steel Tudor Prince Oyster Submariner wristwatch (pictured above) with heavily scratched glass made £4,600, the serial number rather than the condition being key in its success. Another gent’s stainless-steel Rolex watch, an Oyster Perpetual Air King Precision, made £1,500, doubling its estimate and a collection of pocket watch keys mounted on a display board made £1,450.

The silver section comprised 174 lots ranging in date from the beginning of the 18th Century to very recent times, with 99 per cent of lots sold. The top two hammer prices achieved in the large silver section were a 92-piece matched canteen of Rat Tail cutlery selling for £1,700 and a Victorian silver seal case fetching £1,450.

Another single owner collection in the sale was a 49-lot section of vinaigrettes, nutmeg graters, snuff boxes and scent flasks, all 49 lots sold with the top price of £520 for a George III vinaigrette in the shape of a padlock, weighing only 7.7 grams and 3.2cm in height; rarity was the key to its popularity.

To end the first day of auctions were 130 lots of wines, whisky, port and other spirits. Whisky was the main attraction of the section with investors happy to buy rare malts, the top price paid was £2,700 for a bottle of The Macallan 25th Anniversary Malt, distilled in 1966 and bottled in 1992, housed in a wooden case. Four other bottles of whisky sold for sums between £700 and £760 each.

Day two commenced with the ceramics and glass, a mixture of antiques, high value limited editions and modern pieces with an emphasis on design. The top three selling lots in this section covered this cross section with an 18th Century Chinese blue and white jar (pictured above) selling to a telephone bidder for £4,200, a Royal Worcester part tea set painted with fruit studies realising £2,300 and a limited edition figure of Queen Elizabeth I on horseback, produced by the Royal Worcester factory in 1988 in a limited edition of 100 pieces, which proved a real hit with collectors when it soared past its estimate to a winning bid of £1,450.

The works of art section always provides some highlights and this sale was no exception with a Japanese black lacquered cigarette case overlaid with exotic birds in a flowering branch selling to a bidder in Asia for £1,900, rare woodworking tools proved as popular as ever when an unusual Stanley no 52 chute board and no 51 smoothing plane took £640 and a Victorian wooden policeman (pictured above) with a rather cheeky surprise hiding under his coat made £620.

Modern art dominated the paintings section this time with the works of contemporary artist Fabian Perez performing well, with six of his original oil paintings selling, the most popular two depicted people toasting with glasses of red and white wine, the hammer fell at £4,000 and £3,600 respectively. Victorian paintings were not to be outdone with an oil portrait of a champion Highland cow and her calf by Gourlay Steell (pictured below) taking £7,500.

A small section of the auction was devoted to antique and sporting guns, rifles and accessories. Three of the antique weapons produced the highest prices with an antique Spanish 25 bore miquelet military design single barrel pistol at £800, an 18th Century antique .30” percussion Urwin & Rogers “Knife” pistol (below, top) at £800 and a late Victorian .32” extra short calibre “lemon squeezer” (pictured below) at £750.

The sale ended with antique and modern furniture, recent years have seen the modern pieces catching up with the prices of good quality Georgian and Victorian pieces and this auction was no exception. The top price for a furniture lot was £980 when a room bidder secured a George III oak dresser base after a three-way battle between competition on the internet and telephone, a George III longcase clock with an automaton ship to the arch made £800 and a Victorian bookcase in amboyna and rosewood at £600.

Tom Winterton, who catalogued and auctioned the furniture, commented after the sale how pleased he was – especially with a Gerrit Thomas Rietveld for Cassina geometric black, red and white ground centre table at £580 and a G Plan teak sideboard designed by IB Kofod Larsen at £440.

The next Fine & Decorative Arts sale at The Lichfield Auction Centre is scheduled for June 19 2019 and entries are being accepted until May 10. For further details, telephone 01543 251081 or email

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