Antiques in Cheshire

PUBLISHED: 08:47 08 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:41 20 February 2013

Love in the air at Chester Antiques Fair

Love in the air at Chester Antiques Fair

Our antiques writer is on the scent in Tarporley<br/><br/>BY CHRISTOPHER PROUDLOVE

Hunt is over for Tarporley racing trophy

This silver trophy was awarded to James Platt and his racehorse Welsh Heiress in 1858, Now more than 150 years later, the Tarporley Hunt Cup has been brought back to its Cheshire village home, thanks to Hunt Club secretary and past president Mr William Spiegelberg.
How it found its way into the Surrey saleroom of Ewbank Clarke Gammon Wellers is not clear, but Mr Spiegelberg, a retired executive of Greenalls the brewers, read about the sale in his local paper and joined in the bidding. The Tarporley Hunt Club steeplechase began when seven members issued a challenge for a sweepstake of 10 guineas each to race their horses in a four-mile heat at Crabtree Green, near Delamere. Races were abandoned in 1939 shortly before the outbreak of Word War Two but the name survives as a dining club believed to be the oldest in the world, meeting in the same room at The Swan in Tarporley, where it was founded over 200 years ago. The two-handled cup, decorated appropriately with horse-drawn chariots and classical figures, was made by the Irish silversmith James le Bass in Dublin in 1832-33. It was saved with Mr Spiegelbergs last bid of 2,500.

Cloggys music plays on

John Nixon, of Biddulph Moor, Staffordshire, was a familiar sight at steam fairs and traction engine rallies throughout the country dressed in flat cap, waistcoat, red neckerchief and clogs with playing his 19th century street barrel piano, becoming known as Cloggy and The Music Man. A stalwart member of the Fair Organ Preservation Society, Mr Nixon was a crew member touring with the Show Organ Societys Whites Mammoth Gavioli fairground organ and even opened his home to the public so his collection of mechanical music machines could be seen, heard and enjoyed by the widest audience.
When he died last year, aged 59, Congleton auctioneer Adam Partridge was engaged to sell Mr Nixons collection. It aroused massive interest from the collecting community, alerted in part by the auctioneers brainwave of harnessing the Internet to spread the word. Search for Adam Partidge Auction on YouTube ( and not only can you see some of the amazing contraptions but also hear them play. Top price was achieved by a 19th century rosewood pipe organ with drums and triangle at 3,800, while his Pasquale barrel piano (pictured with its owner) sold for 1,750 against an estimate of 500-700.

Champion result for an Imperial treasure

Getting a second opinion paid dividends for the owner of this Chinese vase (pictured with Jo Boucher) which a dealer had offered to buy for 375 (not in Cheshire, I hasten to add). Chester auctioneers Byrnes recognised it as rare 18th century Imperial gilt bronze and cloisonn Champion vase and it duly sold for a staggering 228,000, a house record. Scholars have two theories about the object, which is variously known as a 'He Jingbei' or nuptial cup or a so-called Champion vase. In the former, it is believed that during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) the double cylinders of such cups were filled with wine to be drunk by the bride and groom as part of the ritual during the wedding ceremony. Alternatively, 'Champion' is a pun on the word ying (falcon) which can be seen perched on top of the xiong (bear), the two creatures, or mythical variations of the two, joining the adjacent vases and together forming the word yingxiong - 'champion'. The presence of the Imperial Qianlong (1736-95) mark on the foot of each vessel indicates that it was made by the most skilled craftsmen, possibly in the palace workshops of the Forbidden City itself.

Better than money at the bottom of a drawer

Talking of getting a second opinion, as the price of gold continues to spiral (at the of writing) I urge anyone who might be considering cashing in to do just that before accepting the first offer, from wherever it might come. This set of George VI gold coronation coins comprising 5, 2, sovereign and half sovereign arrived at Altrincham auctioneer Patrick Cheynes saleroom still in its original red morocco leather case inscribed Specimen coins 1937. Apparently the set had been given to the owners father as a wedding present and he had bequeathed them to his daughter. Now widowed and preparing to move from her large home to something more manageable, she had decided they had spent long enough languishing at the bottom of a drawer. They sold for 2,650, more than twice the pre-sale estimate, underlining the benefits the competitive nature of the auction system offers vendors.
All hail the Man in the Moonstone

This charming antique brooch was obviously designed by a jeweller with a sense of humour. At its centre is a carved image of the face were instantly recognise as the Man in the Moon. The gem its carved into is a moonstone boom boom! Festooned in a crescent of 16 graduated diamonds as it is though, this is a serious piece of jewellery. Even the star above his head is made up of six smaller diamonds and when it came under the hammer at Stockport auctioneers A F Brock & Co, great things were expected. It did not fail to disappoint, overturning an estimate of 800-1,200 to sell for 2,200. Moonstone is an almost mystical gem, particularly in India, where it is thought to bring the wearer beautiful dreams. Its attraction is the way light plays through it, creating a shimmer when it is viewed from different angles. Indeed it was believed to reflect the changing phases of the moon. French jeweller and master glassmaker Ren Lalique was a great fan of the moonstone, the best of which come from Sri Lanka.
Fortunes turn for The Loser

Liverpool-born Frank Moss Bennett (1874-1953) painted a range of historic genre pictures set in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. His favourite subjects were tavern scenes, hunting scenes and Elizabethan and Stuart historical figures, while others were set in rustic taverns or the courtyards of ancient buildings. The example illustrated is among his best of its type. Titled The Loser and measuring an imposing four feet wide, the work shows carousers and a Cavalier walking away dejectedly from a card game, his losing hand of cards falling from his grasp. Whats fascinating about Bennett is that he insisted on historical accuracy in his work to the point that he restored period furniture or designed and constructed reproductions of period styles and collected historical costumes so that his settings and models could really look the part. His collection of period dress is now on exhibition in the Platt Hall Museum in Manchester. Sent for sale by a local family who were downsizing to a smaller home, the oil on canvas sold at Nantwich auctioneers Peter Wilson for 16,000.

Love in the air at Chester Antiques Fair

With Valentines Day approaching, its only right to tip a wink to Erotes, the winged gods and demi-gods from classical mythology. They are usually associated with the cult of Aphrodite and represent love and sexual passion. Stories of Erotes pranks and mischief were popular in Hellenistic culture and it is from these early beginnings that Eros, the most well known of all Erotes evolved (erotes is simply the plural of eros or desire). Such figurines were popular in classical Greek art and individual Erotes were often linked to various aspects of love such as unrequited love, as in this ancient figurine which has a hand raised in an attitude of rejection. Moulded in terracotta and 10cm high, the figures cap is pierced through as it was originally intended to be suspended as a household charm and decoration. She (or is it he?) will be on sale at the Chester Antiques and Fine Art Show which celebrates 21 years at the County Grandstand, Chester Racecourse with a special anniversary event from February 11-14. The price of love: 625.

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