Posted on: November 7, 2019

Top of the Lots! Staff Highlights November 2019

Saturday marks the penultimate sale of the year, taking place on Saturday 9th November at 10am in our historic Whitchurch saleroom. With the catalogue now online and accessible here, our team have shared their stand out pieces in this month’s auction:

Simon Grover : General Valuer

Lot 688 – A John Pearson (Newlyn) Arts & Crafts copper and brass oil lamp

I really admire the artisans of the arts and crafts period, lavishing hundreds of hours on objects which serve a pretty basic purpose, just to make them beautiful.  This wonderful lamp is a case in point.  The Victorians had pretty much standardised the design of the household oil lamp, making it ubiquitous in every home, then John Pearson comes along and sees no reason why a humble lamp can’t be a work of art.  Pearson’s skill and craftsmanship are beautifully displayed in this piece, making it truly luminous!

Elizabeth Oliver: General Valuer & Auctioneer

Lot 543: A large and impressive French Sevres porcelain twin handled urn

My favourite lot has to be the Sevres porcelain urn. This impressive piece is very impactful in both size and its ornate design. I love how it encapsulates Europe’s response to Eastern porcelain production. This piece is a great example of the development of elaborate designs produced after cracking the secret of the fabled Chinese ‘hard paste’ porcelain. Early in the 19th century, production moved on completely from its weaker “soft paste” cousin (“pâte tendre”) used in many French pieces. The strengthened material enabled more intricate compositions – this flexibility of design allowing for more refined beauty to be created.

Ian Woodward: Furniture, Works of Art & Clocks Valuer & Auctioneer

Lot 752 – An oak cased long case eight-day clock by Joseph Swinnerton

This clock really is something special. To see an 18th century clock in such good condition is amazing in itself, but it’s the maker that sets it apart for me. Joseph Swinnerton was a clock maker from Sutton Lancashire, and only produced for around 10 years between 1730 – 1740. We’ve assumed it to be him as unlike other maker’s, Swinnerton never signed his clocks with a place name. The style of it is quintessentially ‘Northern’ and has a lot of character.  Finding a Swinnerton clock is extremely rare, so this will be a very exciting lot to watch on sale day.

Joanna Polak: Photographer & Saleroom Assistant

Lot 267 – A collection of ephemera relating to the pianist Suzanne Stokvis circa 1895

I thought this lot was so interesting when I came across it; what a remarkable woman I thought, accomplishing so much and gaining recognition as a musician, which is no mean feat, let alone for a woman of the period! I tried to do some research and find out more about this woman – but I couldn’t find anything! It’s quite sad and very poignant that this woman and her accomplishments are lost to history. I’m glad I found this lot and her talents are being remembered over 100 years later!

Helena Waudby : Jewellery Valuer & Digital Marketing

Lot 212 – A pair of Victorian coral drop earrings

There are so many fantastic antique gems in this sale by some very collectable makers – but these earrings just captured my heart completely! That’s the thing with antiques, sometimes things will just jump out at you, and you can’t explain why! We see coral frequently in the auction, but the quality of these is fantastic – it’s such a gorgeous deep orange colour. They’re very Victorian, but something about them is very contemporary also. Well-designed jewellery is always timeless.

Rebecca Gilman:

Lot 261 – A rare early 19th century oval enamel pendant

For me this has been one of the most interesting and unusual objects to come through the doors this month – it’s certainly had us scratching our heads! To one side it reads ‘Gang Wearily’, the motto of a Scottish clan meaning ‘Go carefully’, beneath a scene of stocks and a noose, which is quite sinister! But to the other side are three clasped hands and the words ‘Charity, Mirth, Friendship’. These two sides contradict each other completely, it’s hard to make sense of. But that makes this job exciting – the team has a breadth of knowledge, but occasionally something will surprise you and keep you guessing. You never stop learning!

Ashley Jones :

Lot 476 – A pair of Chinese porcelain octagonal chargers, Qianlong period

These chargers first grabbed my attention for their beautiful colours. Looking more closely, you notice this fantastic pattern – these are a pair of Chinese porcelain export chargers specifically designed for the Western market, specifically for Europe.  More unusual still is the fact that they are an existing pair, and in such good condition, from 18th century China which was under the reign of the Emperor Qianlong. Considering their age, the colour and gilding is lustrous and lively, giving them so much character. I like to think of the journey these chargers have travelled, starting in China and travelling along the silk road, through Istanbul trading ports and onwards to England. Handling them in 2019 in our historic saleroom is an absolute pleasure. Whether you are a collector in Chinese porcelain, Interior designer or lover of the arts, these really are great pieces to have in your collection!

Elaine Griffiths: Accounts Manager

Lot 163 – An Archibald Knox for Murrle Bennett and Liberty turquoise and seed pearl brooch

This brooch can’t be missed in the sale room; designed by Murrle Bennett, a designer at the forefront of the art nouveau period, this piece was actually made for Liberty & Co, with whom they collaborated a lot. While I love the Art Nouveau period, a lot of pieces by Murrle Bennett often incorporate other stylistic elements, and this one certainly has Celtic and Arts & Crafts inspiration. The turquoise is just luminous in the gold setting as well – it would make a fantastic pendant!

Christina Trevanion: Managing Director & Auctioneer

Lot 759 – A 17th century Dutch walnut and marquetry chest on stand

This really is something to behold. Made in the late 17th century, this piece is believed to have a Dutch maker, and it is rich in continental influence. However, it’s highly likely that it did originate in the UK – after the Great Fire of London in 1666 which decimated the homes of many wealthy residents, European furniture makers flocked to UK where they were in high demand. This easily could have been commissioned in the UK but made by a Dutch hand. The intricacy and craftsmanship are just astounding, and the technical aspects of the piece are fascinating – for example, the rich colours of the veneer were achieved with hot sand! This is a rare gem at over 350 years old and in such remarkable condition, you won’t see another one like it.

To view the full November catalogue click here. For condition reports, phone or absentee bids, or general inquiries email or call 01948 800 202.