Antiques news in Cheshire

PUBLISHED: 17:50 28 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:06 20 February 2013

This item sold for £1,900, a multiple of its estimate. Not bad for something weighing a smidgen over four ounces

This item sold for £1,900, a multiple of its estimate. Not bad for something weighing a smidgen over four ounces

Amazing and curious items have gone under the hammer in local salesrooms

Polar bears romp away in Hale
Gifted Royal Worcester porcelain painter Harry Davis enjoyed a long and productive career at the factory, working from 1898 to 1970, during which time his subject matter was mostly fish, sheep, landscapes and architecture. Among his rarest pieces, and today most desirable, however, are those showing polar bears in Arctic scenes like this one, which turned up at Hale, Altrincham auctioneers Patrick Cheyne. It belonged to a local lady who had kept it in a box for months after clearing out her mother-in-law's house. Bearing date marks for 1905, the vase was initially thought to be unsigned, but the bosses at Worcester had allowed painters to sign their work for the first time in around 1900. Harrys moniker was eventually spotted in the tiniest of writing, almost concealed at the edge of the painting. Only a handful of Harrys polar bear design pieces are known, a fact not lost on nine telephone bidders competing against a Southport dealer who had travelled to the saleroom. He took it home, his wallet 8,600 lighter. Said Patrick Cheyne: I am ashamed to say I had estimated it at 150-250. Mea culpa.

Saleroom helps rewrite Canadian history
Canadian television was present when Nantwich auctioneers Peter Wilson sold an archive relating to the de Havilland aircraft company, recording the moment when their countrys wartime history was officially rewritten. The archive had been presented to director Harry Povey to mark his retirement in 1958 after 35 years service. In 1946, Povey was sent to Canada amid great secrecy to oversee building of the legendary Mosquito fighter bomber, a revolutionary wooden plane that gave the Allies air supremacy. Geoffrey de Havilland was to pilot its maiden test flight, but when he was delayed by bad weather, a young Canadian air ace named Ralph Sprad Spadbrow was drafted in to take the controls. Because of a strict news blackout. Sprad was not credited with the feat and his achievement was largely overlooked. However, among the photographs and documents found in the archive was a telegram from Canada to the companys Hatfield HQ which read in part: FIRST TEST FLIGHT SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED THIS AFTERNOON SPRADBROW CHIEF TEST PILOT DE HAVILLAND CANADA AT CONTROLS STOP. In addition to putting the record straight, there was another fitting outcome: the archive was purchased by the de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre with a commission bid of 1,000. The centre at Salisbury Hall, near St Albans, Herts, where a prototype of the Mosquito is based, describes itself as The Birthplace of the Wooden Wonder.

Football legends recalled in sporting sale
Stanley Matthews boots worn in the 1953 FA Cup Final may have sold for 38,400, but all that did was ignite a debate about how many pairs did the legendary Blackpool winger wear in the 4-3 victory over Bolton Wanderers? After all, the National Football Museum, based in Preston and moving to Manchester also claims to have the Matthews Final boots*. However, there was only one gold medal awarded to Wanderers player Jimmy Seddon in the Cup Final against West Ham in 1923, and it sold for 8,640, also at Bonhams Chester. This match, the first to be played at Wembley Stadium, proved so popular that mounted policemen, including one on a white horse, were brought in to clear the huge crowd of spectators who were overflowing onto the pitch. As a result the game is referred to as the White Horse Final and is commemorated by the White Horse Bridge at the new Wembley Stadium. *The boots in the National Football Museum apparently have screw-in studs. Stanley probably wore traditional bespoke boots with nailed leather studs for the 1953 match.

Chair that can ring the changes
Metamorphic furniture is often fascinating. There were chairs and tables that turn into library steps; pianos that turn into beds (yes really) and then there were childrens high chairs that with the aid of mechanical hinges and wheels could metamorphose into, well, any or all of a toddlers separate table and chair; a low chair on wheels; a rocker and even a crude type of childs walker. Congleton auctioneers Whittaker and Biggs had such an example, capable of achieving at least some of these feats, dating from the late 19th or early 20th century and long before High Street stores were bent on selling your three or four alternatives for each function. It sold for 150.

Oneupmanship Adam-style
Antiques are always great dinner party conversation pieces. Imagine then standing warming your back against a roaring fire in this George III steel and cast iron grate and announcing over the port that the Duke of Wellington probably did the same after routing Napoleon. Sold at Manchester auctioneers Capes Dunn for 2,200, the Adam style grate was accompanied by a letter from a Wells, Somerset, dealer which read: As far as I know, the fire grate along with another was purchased from J.A.S.A. Lewis & Son, and both came from secondary rooms at Aspley House, when surplus furniture and fittings were sold before the house was converted to a museum in 1935. And who are we to argue? Wellington took over the landmark property in 1817, two years after the Battle of Waterloo. Also famously known as Number One, London, because it was the first house in the capital reached by travellers passing through toll gates at Knightsbridge, Aspley was built by Robert Adam and finished in 1778. It is now run by English Heritage and remains a museum and art gallery, although the 8th Duke still uses a section of the building as his occasional residence. He probably has central heating.

First class price for postal novelty
Your starter for 10: what is it? Heres a clue: it was purchased by the international coins, medals and stamp dealers Spink. Engraved July 1898 and according to the hallmarks, assayed in Birmingham a year earlier, it was made by G.Y. & Co, probably the London firm of Grey and Company, founded by William Grey in 1876. They supplied novelty silver items, among other things, to top peoples shops around the world, notably Asprey, which according to Stockport auctioneers A F Brock & Co are now rare and sought after. There was a time when every Victorian home had something similar because following the success of Roland Hills Penny Post, launched in 1840, letter writing became almost an obsession. Yes, its a stamp dispenser. The three compartments have hinged lids, decorated with heart-shaped cut-outs to display the different value stamps each was intended to contain, while the urn-shaped knop was perfect for holding or passing it between users. It sold for 1,900, a multiple of its estimate. Not bad for something weighing a smidgen over four ounces.

Sales Diary for May
Bonhams, Chester 12Pottery 13: Furniture, Pewter, Works of Art
Byrnes, Chester 12, 26: General
Capes Dunn, Manchester 10, 24: Victorian & Later Furniture & Effects 11: Northern Arists (at 7pm) 18: Toys 25: Furniture, Clocks, Bronzes, Carpets, Musical Instruments Paintings
Patrick Cheyne, Hale 22: Antiques and Fine Art
Gerrards Auction Rooms, Lytham St Annes 6-7, 27-28: Antiques & Fine Art
Lloyd Cameron, Warrington 29: Antiques, Collectables & Fine Art
Frank Marshall, Knutsford 5: Antiques & Fine Art 13: General
Maxwells, Wilmslow 19: General, followed by Antiques, Fine Art, Collectables
Silverwoods, Clitheroe 5, 12, 19, 29: General 15: Rural Bygones
James Thompson, Kirkby Lonsdale 5,6: Antiques and Fine Art 19: Paintings
Warren & Wignall, Leyland 5, 12, 26: General 19: Antiques & Fine Art
Whittaker & Biggs, Congleton 1, 7, 17, 21, 28: General
Peter Wilson, Nantwich 6, 13, 20, 27: Gallery Sales
Wright Manley, Beeston 6, 20 Antiques and General
Sales dates can sometimes change and should be checked with the respective auction houses nearer the date

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