2020: a new year, a new auction and lots of highlights

Jan 14, 2020

There were no January blues at the first auction of the year for Wessex Auction Rooms. With the smells of freshly cooked local bacon and the sweet spices of toasted teacakes welcoming everyone as they walked through the front doors, no one seemed to be bothering with January diets as they threw themselves into some serious bidding whilst devouring home baked goodies.

The top selling lot of the day was a rather unassuming watercolour depicting Patamar sailing boats off the coast of Malabar. It was the Appleby Bros Ltd paper label verso noting the artist as William Daniell RA (1769-1837) that saw this small painting see a storm of interest. William Daniell was a Georgian landscape and marine artist as well as a printmaker, known for his work in aquatint. His work was exhibited at the Royal Academy and in 1822 he became a Royal Academician. He travelled around India and the British coastline, creating sketches of interesting views and places as preparatory sketches to watercolours and prints which were collated in two illustrated works: Oriental Scenery and A Voyage Round Great Britain. With bids flying in from the internet, the Wessex Auction Rooms watercolour, measuring just 14.5cm x 23cm sold for £1,400.

Discovered in a charity shop, an Edwardian style club two-seater brass studded tan leather sofa with button back and arms saw a huge amount of pre-sale interest. As the most watched item of the auction is was no surprise that a host of phone lines were booked and bids left on commission. Leather button back sofas are extremely popular and are frequently used by interior designers. “The age of the sofa and the colour and patina of the leather are all important factors when it comes to the value of these sofas” explains Tim Weeks, Director of Wessex Auction Rooms. “What was particularly desirable about our sofa was the small size of it. Usually they are larger three seaters which not everyone has space for, yet this compact two-seater would fit in practically any sized room.” Selling online for £900 it sold for at least double what the more common three-seater usually sells for.

Butterscotch amber continues to flourish with a 1920s graduated cylindrical bead necklace selling for £550. The largest bead measured approximately 25mm and each bead displayed a variety of mottled butterscotch amber coloration. Butterscotch amber is a natural opaque form of Baltic amber, with the larger, unblemished beads considered the most desirable.

A pair of Regency demi-lune fold over card tables with green baise playing surface saw strong competition, selling to the room for £520. With “brown furniture” sounding its own death knoll, card tables are one of the few examples that remain popular, in part due to their small versatile nature. At 200 years old it’s rare to find a pair of card tables that have remained together over the years. A common past-time during the 18th and 19th centuries, card games were played by both men and women.

A Victorian seed pearl unmarked yellow gold pendant sold to the room for £280, against strong bidding. “The Victorians were keen on the star symbol, using it frequently in jewellery” notes Izzie Balmer, Auctioneer and Head Valuer. “Often set with diamonds or seed pearls they are usually made in 15ct yellow gold and often have a dual fitting so they can be worn as either a pendant or a brooch.”

A cased late Victorian mother-of pearl and silver fruit set for twelve place settings saw a battle between the room and the internet, with the gavel falling to the successful internet bidder for £320. The silver knife blades displayed engraved floral decoration with simple plain polished mother-of-pearl handles and were hallmarked Atkin Brothers Sheffield 1900. In superb condition and of beautiful quality it wasn’t a surprise that this set caught the eye of so many bidders.