Hammer Highlights Part I: Five top lots sold on thesaleroom.com this year

Millions of items covering all collecting disciplines and price levels are listed every year on thesaleroom.com. Affordable furnishings run shoulders with fine and rare works of art.

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A famille rose charger with Yongzheng mark - £72,000 at Sworders.

Pictured here are five of the top items sold to internet bidders in 2019, the first of a two-part series.  

View and bid for more objects on thesaleroom.com.

Famille rose charger

Among the most admired lots in Sworders’ Asian art sale held in Mayfair on November 8 was this large famille rose charger decorated with a canework basket spilling over with and a range of auspicious flowers plus a peach and a finger citron. It measures just over 20in (15cm) and was offered with a wood stand carved with two dragons chasing a flaming pearl. 

Although it has a six-character mark for the emperor Yongzheng (1723-35) it was thought to be a high-quality honorific pieces from perhaps a century later in the Qing period. It came for sale from a titled Essex estate and had previously been exhibited as part of an exhibition titled The Glory of the Garden held at Sotheby’s in 1987 in association with The Royal Horticultural Society. Although estimated at £1500-2000, it sold to an online bidder at £72,000 (plus buyer’s premium). 

Lenci’s Art Deco pottery

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The Lenci Il Grattacielo (Skyscraper) figure sold for £34,000 (plus buyer’s premium) by Boldon Auction Galleries.

The stylish Art Deco pottery figures for which Ars Lenci became celebrated were first shown at the Turin international exhibition in 1928. Among the large-scale models unveiled that year was Il Grattacielo (Skyscraper), the striking figure of a young lady with a compact and powder puff standing on one of the high-rise buildings that had begun to occupy Europe’s land-strapped cities.

As with many Lenci models, the designer Abele Jacopi (1882-1957) took a cue from the pages of Vogue magazine, dressing the subject in a modish black and white polka dot dress with an orange bow.

The example offered for sale at Boldon Auction Galleries near Sunderland on October 2 was in relatively good condition with just some small chips to the extremities.

It came for sale from a local source with an estimate of just £100-150 – the sort of sum that one of the limited edition reproductions of this figure might make.

Instead, with the painted mark Lenci Made in Italy, Torino, 28, it attracted a host of online and phone bidders before selling at £34,000 (plus 17.5% buyer’s premium) to a buyer on thesaleroom.com. 

The price is thought to be a new record for Lenci. It was almost twice the £18,000 bid at Christie’s South Kensington in 2011 for another (restored) version of Il Grattacielo and bettered the £32,000 bid in the same rooms in 2006 for the 21in (53cm) figure of a coquettish nude in Egyptian headdress titled Abissinia. 

Tiffany tiger orchid brooch

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Orchid brooch made by Tiffany c.1890 – €41,000 (£36,000) at Haynault.

This gold, enamel and diamond tiger orchid brooch offered by Belgian auction house Haynault of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre on June 15 was made by Tiffany c.1890.
A series of 24 very similar orchid brooches were designed by George Paulding Farnham (1859-1927) for exhibition at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. At the time the Paris Herald commented: “It is simply marvellous, the stamens being only the thinness of a hair, yet having two colours in enamel, while even the smallest part of the flower is reproduced.”

As well as impeccable workmanship, these brooches are remarkable for their botanical accuracy. Farnham would have had access to the Tiffany library which contained an impressive collection of illustrated botanical journals, as well as an array of dried and pressed botanical specimens.

With only a slight chip to the enamel to count against it, the hammer price was €41,000/£36,000 (plus buyer’s premium), close to four times the estimate.

Boris Becker’s Renshaw Cup

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A silver replica of the Renshaw Cup awarded to Boris Becker - £40,250 at Wyles Hardy & Co.

Among the most eagerly contested sales of the year was that conducted ‘on behalf of the trustees in bankruptcy of the estate of Boris Becker’ by business asset valuer and auctioneer Wyles Hardy & Co. The three-times Wimbledon champion was declared bankrupt in June 2017 with a reported debt of over £3m owed to the private bank Arbuthnot Latham & Co. A court ruling enabled creditors to take hold of Becker’s assets and memorabilia collection and - after earlier postponements - sell them via an 82-lot timed auction that closed on July 11.

The online sale ran across Auction Technology Group’s online platforms thesaleroom.com, ibidder.com, bidspotter.co.uk and German online marketplace lot-tissimo.com.

The overall total for the sale was £687,000, well above the £250,000 that had been expected. Among the top lots sold via thesaleroom.com was this 7in (17cm) silver replica of the Renshaw Cup made by Wakely & Wheeler of London, 1987 sold at £40,250. During the period of Boris Becker’s three Wimbledon Titles, champions were awarded three miniatures, the AELTC Challenge Cup, the President's Challenge Cup and the Renshaw Cup.

Early Ceylon cabinet

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A 17th century Sri Lankan ivory veneered table cabinet - £40,000 at Duke’s.

This casket belongs to a group of cabinets that were produced during the 17th century in Kotte, Ceylon. Veneered in carved ivory - the medium of choice for luxury and precious objects since antiquity - and mounted with gilt copper mounts and handles, they were made for storing jewellery and precious objects. Many were made, sometimes with subjects taken from European woodcuts, for Portuguese and Spanish nobility. The giltwood stand is a later addition. Estimated to sell for £5000 at Duke’s of Dorchester on November 11, it went to an online buyer at £40,000 plus buyer's premium.


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