Hammer Highlights Part II: Five more leading lots sold on thesaleroom.com this year

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

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Early Edo period lacquer casket - £40,000 at Sworders.

Pictured here are five more of the top items sold to internet bidders in 2019, rounding out our two-part series.

View and bid for more objects on thesaleroom.com. 

Japanese lacquer box 

Unusually for an Asian art sale, the top price at Sworders in Stansted Mountfitchet on May 17 was paid for a Japanese work of art. A 12in (30cm) casket – one of two lacquer boxes in a lot estimated at just £200-300 – was identified as part of a rare group of rare wares made during the start of the Edo period for the western export market.

Assuming an architectural form, it was decorated in gold hiramaki-e, takamaki-e and nashiji techniques on a black ground in transition style with pavilions in landscapes and flowers and grasses and mounted with copper gilt fittings. One sliding side opened to reveal a secret drawer. In remarkably good condition for a pierce of its type and early to mid 17thcentury date, it sold well above estimate to a Hong Kong buyer bidding via the internet at £40,000 (plus 23% buyer’s premium).

Natalina Danko figure

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A State Porcelain Factory figure by Natalia Danko – £50,000 at Golding Young & Mawer.

A State Porcelain Factory figure by Natalina Danko (1892-1943) emerged at auction in Grantham on October 3 to sell to a bidder via thesaleroom.com of £50,000 (plus buyer’s premium).

The animated 5in (12cm) polychrome model of a female worker in traditional costume sold to a buyer from an ex-Communist bloc nation at Golding Young & Mawer.

Danko was the key artist at the State Porcelain Factory in the post-Revolution period.

Joining the factory in 1914 and head of the sculpture workshop from 1919, she was the designer of more than 300 figures and compositions. Many were meticulously painted by her younger sister, Elena. This rare model – with a covered well to the rocky base that could be used for ink – is signed and carries marks for the State Porcelain Factory in Petrograd c.1925.

When first seen by the auctioneers in a Lincolnshire collection it was missing a hand but, following a discussion with the vendor, a decision was taken to have the piece professionally restored in advance of the sale.

A contest, that opened at £20,000, was dominated by UK-based East European bidders and participants from the old USSR countries.

Rare Royal Navy Service Medal

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Naval General Service Medal with Nymphe clasp - £32,000 at Bosleys.

This Royal Navy Officer’s Naval General Service Medal includes the rare clasp reading Nymphe 18 June 1793. It was awarded to John Gaze who was serving as Quartermaster of the 36-gun frigate HMS Nymphe when at 6.30am on June 18, 1793 she engaged the French frigate LaCleopatre at Start Point. After LaCleopatre was dismasted and her wheel smashed, Captain Edward Pellew 1st Viscount Exmouth gave the order to board the ship and begin hand combat on the main and quarter decks. 

Only four of these Nymphe clasps were awarded. This example appeared for sale at specialist militaria auctioneer Bosley’s in Marlow, Buckinghamshire on March 6 where it sold at £32,000 (estimate £15,000-20,000). 

After his deeds on HMS Nymphe, John Gaze would later follow his captain onto the famous HMS Indefatigable receiving further clasps for Indefatigable 20 April 1796 and Indefatigable Jany 13 1797 (Midshipman) and Algiers (Master of the Queen Charlotte).

Eric Gill Eclogues

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Special edition copy of Virgil’s Eclogues by the Cranach Press - €80,000 (£68,000) at Galerie Bassange.

This 1926 copy of Virgil’s Eclogues by the Cranach Press is a special edition of a well-known private press work. In addition to 43 woodcuts by Aristide Maillol and 17 initials by Eric Gill, this is one of only eight copies printed on parchment. It comes in a bespoke cream and gilt binding. Estimated to sell for €12,000 at a sale conducted by Galerie Bassange in Berlin-Grunewald on October 17 it found an internet buyer at €80,000/£68,000 (plus buyer’s premium).

Chinese chicken paintings

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The six rediscovered Kangxi ink and colour on silk paintings from the Compendium of Birds album – £200,000 at Chiswick Auctions.

The Fine Chinese Paintings sale at Chiswick on November 11 included a rediscovered set of six works by the Kangxi period court artist Jiang Tingxi (1669-1732). Estimated at £20,000-30,000, the winning bid via thesaleroom.com was £200,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).

The ink and colour on silk album leaves, each measuring 15½ x 16in (40 x 41cm), are believed to be part of the Compendium of Birds album, a monumental natural history work depicting 360 birds and lengthy texts completed c.1721 that left the palace collection in the early 20th century.

These six works depicting chickens (symbol of fidelity and punctuality in Chinese culture) came for sale from a Scottish private collection by descent from Charles Blair (1856-1943), owner of a tea plantation in Ceylon.

They were possibly acquired by Blair while in Singapore between 1928-32.


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