A report from a busy November antiques auction, with an array of interesting lots attracting bidders across the globe, written by Managing Director & Valuer Greg Bateman.

With several very interesting collections up for sale - notably art, militaria, ballet, pottery and musical instruments - there was plenty for bidders to get excited about in this month's antiques auction at the venerable Stamford Auctioneers - Batemans.

For the second month in a row the top lot honours fell (along with the auctioneer's hammer) to a piece of quality antique furniture. A very prettily decorated, but otherwise fairly standard, Edwardian Sheraton style glazed display bookcase generated a spectacular result towards the end of the auction. As often happens at auction when two bidders just won't give in there can be a seemingly ordinary item that climbs well above an ordinary result. As in this case, when similar items sell regularly for a few hundred pounds, perhaps heading into the higher hundreds now and again for a better quality example, this was a stonker of a result!

 It sold against estimates of £300-£500 for an amazing £2,400 (incl. 20% BP)!


Each section throughout the sale provided some genuine surprises, as well as reassuring results for other lots with certain expectations.

The start of each monthly antiques auction encompasses Asian Art, ceramics and glassware, and three highlights showed the strength of bidding on the day. Firstly an interesting group of four late Victorian Mintons plates with reticulated gilt rims, each decorated with hand painted scenes from nature, and bearing marks for 'Mintons Messrs Caldwell & Co. Philadelphia'. The marks showed that these were shipped to and retailed in the USA from the Mintons factory in Staffordshire, only to make their way back the UK to the home of the vendor in the South of England who consigned them to Batemans to sell - they've travelled far and are still in excellent condition. 

Messrs Caldwell & Co. J. E. Caldwell & Co. was a major jewellery retailer and one-time silversmith in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The company was founded at 163 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, by watchmaker James Emmot Caldwell in 1839; in 1843 the firm became the partnership of Bennett & Caldwell, then in 1848 was renamed J. E. Caldwell & Co. It acquired a national reputation in the United States through its silver services presented to battleships and cruisers of the US Navy. It exhibited at The Centennial Exposition in 1876, representing the American Jewelry Maker. By the late 19th century richly decorated table china by Spode and Mintons was being produced bearing underglaze backstamps indicating that they were made expressly for J. E. Caldwell & Co., Philadelphia. The company operated for over 150 years, that started to decline, being sold several times over, until in 2003 the flagship store was closed for the final time followed by the remaining branches in 2009.

The set of four Mintons plates (shown below left) were estimated at £200-£300 and sold for £1,104 (incl. 20% BP)

Secondly a pair of beautiful Royal Doulton Lambeth stoneware vases, decorated by Hannah Bolton Barlow (British, 1851-1916) with an incised continuous frieze of cattle and horses caught bidders' attention. Hannah, and her equally famous sister Florence, were artists who painted pottery for Doulton & Co at their newly-established art pottery studio in Lambeth, London. Doulton's Lambeth studio allowed the decorators to sign or monogram their work which allows many pieces to be attributed to individuals. Hannah was the first female artist to work at the studios and her work, along with her sister's is highly prized. This pair were of a good size, 36cm / 14 inches high, and in good condition, thus drawing strong bidding.

The pair of Royal Doulton Lambeth vases (shown below centre) were estimated at £300-£500 and sold for £960 (incl. 20% BP)

Finally, the highest selling lot from a large consignment of modern Highland Stoneware Pottery was a multi-tile wall plaque. Painted by David Grant, the founder and one of the current artists, for the relatively modern pottery which was founded in 1974 in the North-West Highlands of Scotland. Depicting a coastal Highland scene with waves crashing onto a beach it absolutely 'stormed' to an incredible result.

The Highland Stoneware Pottery tile plaque (shown below right) was estimated at £40-£60 and sold for £840 (incl. 20% BP) !!!


The militaria section included some interesting antique arms and medals, as well as an incredible WWII Dunkirk boat wheel. It was from the boat 'Felicity' which was confirmed to be involved with the Dunkirk 'Miracle of Deliverance', evacuating the Allied Forces from the beaches of Northern France. It sold for £336 (incl. 20% BP). The highlight however was a London marked Colt pocket revolver, five shot patent 1849 type, whose octagonal barrel was engraved with a wagon or carriage scene.

Estimated at £300-£500 the revolver sold for £1,020 (incl. 20% BP)

 The musical instruments section offered over a dozen lots, from banjos to pianos and beyond. In fact it was a piano that 'performed' well - being the centrepiece of a large collection of ballet related items (see later in this article) with a particular focus on Rudolf Nureyev, the world famous ballet dancer. 

This Art Deco Eavestaff cocktail piano once belonged to Rudolf Nureyev, it was purchased at Christie's, London, in a specialist auction 'Part II - Rudolf Nureyev Estate Sale' held in 1995 after the ballet star passed away. Having been treasured by the current vendor since then and now being sold following a house move to a much smaller property it has lashings of style and a show stopping history. It sold on it's low estimate for £600 (incl. 20% BP).

A second highlight which struck just the right chord was a bespoke handmade Manson dreadnought acoustic guitar, dating from 1981. It sold on it's high estimate for £1,200 (incl. 20% BP)!


 Next came another spectacular surprise. A group of three modern table lamps... not items that could possibly create a huge amount of interest? These however were a rarer breed with the clue being in the maker, each lamp having an inscribed signature to its base reading 'Chris Wallis'. They were made from laminated wood, carved organically and lacquered in deep apple green (or watermelon as one bidder suggested - we see their point!). 

The group of three Chris Wallis lamps were estimated at a not inconsiderable £80-£120, however went on to sell for an incredible £696 (incl. 20% BP) !


Later in proceedings came the pictures sections, which started with the aforementioned ballet related items. There were dozens of hand painted costume designs, mostly by Charlotte Fawley, a resident artist at the Royal Opera House, depicting Rudolf Nureyev in a variety of roles, as well as designs for Luciano Pavarotti, Andris Lieper, Jose Carreras, and the top selling costume design picture painted by Shirley Russell. Also sold was an extensive private archive of ballet related ephemera, including photographs, performance programmes, reference books, and ballet posters - all selling for relatively modest sums.


Comprising collections from several different vendors and multiple deceased estates the pictures section as a whole sold especially well. Of special note were a pencil signed print after that most famous of artists Laurence Stephen Lowry was his 'People Standing About'. Still riding the crest of a wave propelling examples of Lowry's signed prints regularly into the thousands of pounds this was no exception. Strong pre-sale interest and a great result illustrated again Batemans ability to draw in bidders with our high quality photographs and informative, accurate catalogue descriptions, allowing potential bidders to see everything they need without having to ask for more information. The print went on to sell for twice mid-estimate at £1,380 (incl. 20% BP).

The 'most wished for lot' of the sale (via our online catalogue on the-saleroom.com) was an absolute cracker! With over a dozen absentee bids left, via our own website, directly with us by email or telephone prior to the sale, and via the second online platform we employ on easyliveauction.com, we knew that another smashing result was lurking. It was both the artist and the subject that enthralled the bidders; Ken Howard OBE is a British artist born in in London in 1932 who studied at the Hornsey College of Art and the Royal College of Art. He has been elected to numerous artists' societies including the Royal Academy and the New English Art Club (where he was President). His work is much admired and examples hang in multiple National Collections. He is probably one of the best-known and most collected British figurative artists of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century.

This 32.5 by 37.5cm (12.8 by 14.8 inches) oil on board was titled 'Newlyn', and charmingly depicts boats by the harbour wall at low tide in Howards' inimitable style.

Estimated at £200-£300 it sold for a spectacular ten-times estimate of £2,100 (incl. 20% BP) !!!


Batemans holds monthly Fine Art, Antiques & Specialist Collectors Auctions every month. We are especially looking to consign high quality Asian Art, including Chinese porcelain and bronzes, Japanese porcelain, British & European 18th and 19th Century Ceramics, Fine Art Paintings, Prints and Drawings, Old Master, Modern British and Impressionist, Clocks, Barometers, Cameras and Scientific Instruments, Militaria, Medals, Arms and Armour, Musical Instruments, Ethnographic, Taxidermy and Sporting Interest, Vintage Wine, Whisky and Spirits, Sculptures, Works of Art, and Objects of Vertu, Toys and Models, as well as entire House Contents Sales and Extensive Private Collections ...

To consign items please contact us on 01780 766466 or valuations@batemans.com and have a look at our SELLING page.