Posted on: April 17, 2019

Spring Bidders go potty for Rhead and Rolexes

The musician Brian McKnight once said that ‘A fine timepiece is part of dressing like a gentleman’ and the bidders at Trevanion and Dean’s April auction certainly agreed as the top lot of the day, a gentleman’s 18ct yellow gold Rolex sold for £8,680 to a south of England private buyer.  Hotly contested by both bidders in the room, online and on the telephone, the watch continues an on-going trend in demand for exceptional quality watches at the Whitchurch based saleroom, who are fast gaining a reputation for obtaining top prices for watches offered in their monthly fine art and antiques auctions.

The team at Trevanion and Dean have had a busy spring so far holding valuation events around the country with fellow auctioneer and BBC television antiques star Timothy Medhurst.  Several of the top selling lots in the auction were consigned during these valuation events and included the biggest surprise of the auction day;  a pair of ceramic tiles.  The tiles were brought along to a valuation day held by the firm of auctioneers just over the border at Gifford Lea in Tattenhall, Cheshire.  The seller explains ‘The tiles were inherited from my husbands granny, she always had them hanging on the stairs in her home, and when we had them we put them over our fireplace. To be honest, I’ve never really liked them and so when we moved house a couple of years ago I put them in a box and never unpacked them.  When I saw that Trevanion and Dean were holding a valuation day, I took the tiles along thinking that if they weren’t worth anything I’d put them in the bin on the way out.  I was amazed when Christina said they were worth something!’ 

Auctioneer Christina Trevanion explains ‘The tiles were by one of the most important ceramic designers the twentieth century has known; Charlotte Rhead’.  Up there with the great female potters Clarice Cliff and Susie Cooper, Charlotte Rhead was born into a very artistic family.  Her father began his career as an apprentice at Mintons and went on to work at a number of potteries, Charlotte’s mother also came from an artistic family, and together they produced a generation of exceptional artisans, their children Lottie (as charlotte was well known) her brother Frederick and sister Dollie, all became well known potters and designers in their own right. 

When the tiles were unpacked from their carrier bag at the valuation day Christina explains ‘As soon as they were unpacked the characteristic tube lining method and bright colours that Charlotte was so well known for just glowed at me! It was an absolute joy to see them, I can understand why they wouldn’t be to everybody’s taste, but at the same time, the work that has gone in to producing them is quite exceptional, and can only have been produced by somebody of quite rare talent like Charlotte’.  The tiles were hotly contested both online and on the telephone by eager collectors wanting to snap up the tiles before finally selling for £3,000 (including buyers premium) to a delighted UK based telephone bidder and private collector of the Rhead’s work.

And the seller’s reaction ‘I can’t believe I was going to put them in the bin! Thank goodness I took them to the valuation day, I’m delighted that they have gone to someone who appreciates them, because we never have!’.

Another of the top selling lots of the day was an interesting Ottoman medal and order group in relation to a gentleman called John Stevenson.  The auctioneers consigned the group during their valuation day at Great Alne Park, in Warwickshire.  John Stevenson was an Englishman seconded to the Ottoman armory works in Constantinople in the 1870’s, the medals came with photographs and paperwork stating that the ‘Articles of Agreement between his Excellency Musurus Pasha and John Stevenson to serve in the employment of the Imperial Government for the term of twenty four calendar months in the capacity of Inspector of Pistols and converted needle guns and also as a filer and finisher of action locks in the Imperial small arms factory at Constantinople’. 

Auctioneer Aaron Dean clarifies ‘Medal groups such as this just don’t come on the market very often and this was a fantastic example of a good foreign order group for a British citizen, the fact that the family had managed to retain all the original paperwork and photographs of John Stevenson himself really added to the collection and is a lesson to us all to never throw anything away until it has been checked out!’.  The auctioneers reported plenty of pre-sale interest for the group and bidders battled it out to secure the group before being finally secured by a UK based collector.

Also within the auction was a fascinating collection of vintage textiles and accessories which achieved huge amounts of interest in the run up to the auction.  The collection was brought in to the auctioneers by a North Shropshire family who had carefully stored and housed the pieces that had been handed down to them from their ancestors.  The collection featured numerous Victorian and later outfits, dresses, capes, accessories and shoes.  Other than wearing a few of the pieces for a couple of fancy dress parties, the collection had seen very little wear or use since they were worn in the 19th and early 20th century by the original family members.  It was the fact that they were in such exceptional condition that really drew the collectors to them and the auction saw bidders from around the country, and the world, battling it out to secure lots.  ‘Collections such as this are becoming rarer and rarer to find’, explains auctioneer Christina Trevanion ‘Which is why, when they do appear, collectors are keen to snap them up and secure them for their own archives’.

Elsewhere around the saleroom, the auctioneers reported strong results in the jewellery and silver sections where a solitaire diamond ring sold for £1,700, a silver and enamelled Liberty clock sold for £1,500 and buoyant furniture and clocks categories were lead by a Regency occasional table which sold for £750 and a Continental long case clock circa 1900 made £1,600.