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July post-sale report

From the weird to the wonderful A charity shop bargain and a haunted rocking horse caught the eyes of bidders in our July sale. That, and some fabulous jewellery and glorious art…

You may have seen the story of this fine Japanese cloisonne vase in the press, that had been bought from a charity shop in Surrey for just £2.50. Our specialists identified is as the signed work of Namikawa Yasuyuki (1845-1927) from the Meiji Period - one of the masters of this intricate art. Decorated with a cockerel, chicks and birds this tiny signed vase measured just 4.25ins (10.8cm) high and fetched £6,300. Not a bad return!

Similarly the story of this rocking horse, said to be haunted, was picked up by newspapers around the world. It had been owned by Kent medium Dick Godden and reputed to be able to move by itself. The dapple-grey horse jumped clean over our estimate of around £300 and was last seen galloping off to The Haunted Museum in Las Vegas (“voted No.1 best haunted destination in America”) which bought it for £1,750.

Back to more serious items – and the jewellery in our last sale was seriously beautiful. Among a healthy number of solitaires and other diamonds, which mainly sold over our estimates, was this 20th Century large cross, set with 23 old European cut diamonds. It went to a London bidder for £6,600, more than double our estimate.  Similarly, the quality of this Asprey & Co platinum diamond and sapphire necklace lifted bidding to £7,400. Blue was clearly the colour du jour as the fabulous tone of the big sapphires in this 18ct gold sapphire and diamond ring took bidding to £2,600, again over-estimate.  Bring us that unworn jewellery – it’s fetching wonderful prices at the moment! 

There was a lot of interest in two works by Antoine Blanchard (1910-1988). Wet, rainy street scenes seem in vogue at the moment: perhaps Blanchard started it all with his atmospheric style. You can almost smell the Gauloises in this evening Parisian street scene, which fetched £7,600, one of two by this artist capturing evocative grey days. His other scene of trams and horse-drawn carriages fetched £4,600.  Antoine’s real name was Marcel Masson. He was born in a small village near the banks of the Loire, moving to Paris in 1932 where he joined the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. No one quite knows why he changed his name (apparently choosing Blanchard from a phone book) but one theory is that if his nostalgic scenes weren’t popular, he wouldn’t have damaged his real name. But popular they were – so much so that his work is much copied and it takes a real expert to know genuine from fake. Step forward, Canterbury Auction Galleries’ specialists!

Art of a very different kind came into the sale from the descendants of Frederick Thomas Daws (1878-1955). He was a noted artist and sculptor and in the course of a distinguished career exhibited many times at the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon.  Most of us however will know of his work through his range of realistic porcelain and bronze champion dogs by Royal Doulton. He worked for them from 1919 and in 1930 became their main artist, producing ranges of lovely collectibles. The whole collection of his animal models and paintings together fetched £5,640. Most sought-after was this 1935 oil painting of a champion Irish Wolfhound ‘Ch. Lady of Raikeshill’ which, appropriately enough, went to a bidder in Ireland. In case you’re interested, Lady of Raikeshill was a legendary champion in the 1920s, and bred by Mrs William Knox her small, specialist kennel in Raikeshill, W. Yorkshire.  She made all her dogs personal companions and one judge said of her charges: “Every dog is as hard as nails, as keen in expression and in character as one could desire, and at the gallop they are faultless.” So famous was Lady that, when she died, she was stuffed and exhibited at London’s Natural History Museum. 

While we’re on dogs – do you know what a ship’s ‘Dog Watches’ are? Before mechanical clocks, the time on board a ship was measured every 30 minutes by turning a sound glass - like a sand egg-timer. The helmsman struck the ship's bell each time he turned the glass: double strokes on the hour, a single stroke on the half.  Mechanical clocks allowed this to change and strike complex work patterns. As a ship needs to be manned 24 hours the crew are split into two or more teams, or ‘’watches’, so they can sleep when off duty. The first normal four-hour watch run from 20.00 until midnight; the middle from midnight to 04.00; the morning from 04.00 until 08.00; the forenoon from 08.00 until noon and the afternoon watch from noon to 16.00.  The next two are divided into the Dog Watches (possibly named after the sight of the Dog Star). First Dog Watch is two hours, 16.00 until 18.00, and the last from 18.00 until 20.00. (Got that?!) Why? It creates an uneven number of shifts so that the same men do not keep the same watches every day.  It’s unusual to find a ship’s clock striking a Dog Watch sequence. And this late 19th Century  Striking Bulkhead Clock, by Pascall Atkey & Son of Cowes did just that. The 7.5ins diameter silvered clock, striking Bells and Watches, sold for £3,900 - double our estimate.

From the same estate as the clock came this wonderful Lalique hood ornament.  As cars developed in the Twenties, these became increasingly popular – both for car companies to have some marketing fun and to cover the otherwise-ugly radiator caps.  When Andre Citroen created the 5CV model in 1925 he commissioned René Lalique to design its mascot. The “Cinq Chevaux” mascot of course refers to the car’s five horsepower engine.  Quite apart from being beautiful it seems to capture the spirit and excitement of the new age of powered cars. Monsieur Citroen had one on his own 5CV and we don’t blame him.  This was Lalique’s first design and he went onto create 28 more mascots for stylish cars including Bentley, Bugatti, and Mercedes-Benz. This sold for £3,700 again, over our estimate.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – quality will sell. Take this lovely ebonised and gilt harp, by Sebastian Erard of London, decorated with ram's heads, swags, figureheads, and leaves needed a little TLC but still sold for £1,450 as the maker was so good. The same applied to this pair of otherwise quite normal-looking 18th Century console tables, in the manner of William Kent.  The useful-sized pair went to a sharp-eyed West Country bidder who recognized the quality of the workmanship and won the bidding at £3,900.

Next sale is on the weekend of Aug 31-October 1 and features rare memorabilia from the estate of Star Wars/Hammer Horror legend Peter Cushing.

Find full results of past sales and online catalogues at www.thecanterburyauctiongalleries.com - and sign up for email alerts of future sales.

Most Fridays we hold free valuations of jewellery, works of art, good quality furniture and collectors’ items, with no obligation, at our Canterbury saleroom, 10am - 4pm. Please call for an appointment first and one of our experts will value your item. We can also visit you in person or help via email accompanied by good-quality images. 

Our qualified specialists are also well-known for careful and sensitive valuations of deceased estates for probate purposes. For further information or to make an appointment, please contact the saleroom on 01277 763337 or by email at general@tcag.co.uk

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Canterbury Auction Galleries
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01227 763337
40 Station Road West, Canterbury, Kent CT2 8AN
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