News from Cheshire's antiques and auction houses

PUBLISHED: 00:15 24 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:57 20 February 2013

News from Cheshire's antiques and auction houses

News from Cheshire's antiques and auction houses

Prize-winning soap, valuable teapots and a Lamorna painting – <br/><br/>all going, going gone from local salesrooms<br/><br/>BY CHRISTOPHER PROUDLOVE

Price was right for rare Chinese teapot
There was a surprise for Knutsford auctioneers Frank Marshall in the oriental works of art section of a recent sale: the price paid for this 19th century Chinese bronze teapot. Said auctioneer Nick Hall: Although it was relatively decorative with some applied foliate castings, it wasnt the finest of quality, nor was it in great condition and had suffered various bumps and dents. However, the huge interest in it stemmed from the fact that it was a rare form made specifically for a little known rice tea and the rarity of this is what got the specialists and collectors so excited. Marshalls thought it would fetch just a few hundred pounds, but on the day of the sale many eager bidders lined up to compete both in the packed saleroom, through telephone bids and using the salerooms live internet bidding facility. After a pitched battle between them all, the rarity fell to a specialist London gallery for a heady 3,100.

All of a lather over bar of soap
It was a King Midas moment when a Crewe couple won this solid 18 carat gold bar of soap and in 1985, when the competition was held, it was judged to be worth 1,750. With the price of precious metals soaring, Nantwich auctioneers Peter Wilson were bubbling with a bid of 4,000 for the ingot. One of only three made for the Cussons Imperial Leather national competition, it was won by the couple after purchasing a promotional bar of the soap as part of their weekly shopping at Asda. They entered the competition simply by telephoning their details to the prize hotline. It weighed in at 200 grams thats over six ounces and it was too heavy for Peter Wilsons jewellery scales, said its owner, Mr Peter Clarke, 72. It measured just a few inches, but its surprising how heavy it was for something so small. We decided to sell it because we have no grandchildren to pass it on to, so were going to enjoy the money instead.

Ah so Hotei, the picture of happiness
One of the joys of collecting Japanese ivory works of art collectively known as okimono is learning about the folklore attached to the figures and creatures that craftsmen chose to depict. Take this character, for example. His name is Hotei, which means Cloth Sack, because he is usually seen carrying one. He is one of the seven gods of luck in Japanese Taoism, and he represents prosperity, happiness and laughter. According to legend, his sack was always full of sweets and precious things, which is why he was the childrens favourite and why he is usually portrayed surrounded by them. Hotei might be, lets say, amply proportioned itself a symbol of happiness, luck and generosity and always smiling, but he was poor and yet gave away his gifts without expectation, As ever, a folkloric tale with a message for us all. Interestingly, Hotei is also regarded as a protector of restaurants and bars, so watch out for statues of him next time you collect your takeaway. Pictured here with children apparently playing in his sack, he sold at Manchester auctioneers Capes Dunn for 480.

Cheshire lad who made good in Cornwall
Apart from having a great moniker, landscape artist Samuel John Lamorna Birch (1869 - 1955) was a Cheshire lad, so I have an instant affinity. He was born in Egremont, near Birkenhead, but raised in Manchester and might have ended his days working in a Lancashire mill had it not been for his love of art. He was largely self-taught but spent a year in a Paris art school, although it was falling in with the Newlyn School of artists and the great Stanhope Forbes that proved to be the greatest influence on his work.
He turned professional in 1892 and moved to live permanently in Cornwall. He chose independence from the main group of artists, and set up home and studio in nearby Lamorna, adding the name to his to avoid confusion with another artist named Birch who lived in Newlyn. He also travelled extensively in Australia and New Zealand and exhibited at the Royal Academy andthe Royal Watercolour Society. Birch is best remembered for his views of Cornish woods and streams in oil and watercolour such as this charming view, still in its original frame, which sold for 4,200 at Wright Manley in Beeston.

The period of elegance Chippendale style
Despite the fact that his name is synonymous with fine rare furniture, comparatively few pieces by Otley, Lancashire-born Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779) are known to exist. However, thanks to his book of designs, The Gentleman and Cabinet Makers Director, his influence on furniture shapes and styles can still be seen to this day. Georgian furniture makers from those the workshops with the richest clientele to the lowliest country craftsmen copied his designs slavishly. So did their Victorian and Edwardian descendants over the years with the result that the phrase Chippendale style peppers saleroom catalogues and dealers price tags. Take this chair. The telltale shapes are the top rail formed like a yoke; the sinuous and intricately carved splat back, reflected in the out-scrolled arms; the elegant cabriole legs and ball and claw feet. But is it period (ie Georgian)? Oh yes, said Altrincham auctioneer Patrick Cheyne, who had just sold it and its pair for 2,400. They came from a local private source. In view of the decline in brown furniture, they were estimated at 500-800. The price bucks the trend and shows that good period furniture, even if boring brown, is fetching good money, he added.

Sales Diary for April
Bonhams, Chester 4, 6: two-day sale Fine Art & Antiques 21:Silver, Glass, Ceramics, Prints
Byrnes, Chester 14: General 17: Sporting Guns & Country Pursuits 28: Collelctors & General
Capes Dunn, Manchester 12, 26: Victorian & Later Furniture & Effects 13: European Ceramics; Doulton & Beswick; Decorative Arts; Oriental Ceramics, Ivories, Glass 27: Jewellery, Silver, Plate, Watches & Gold, Coins
Frank Marshall, Knutsford 13: General
Gerrards Auction Rooms, Lytham St Annes 15-16: Antiques & Fine Art
Lloyd Cameron, Warrington 24: Antiques, Collectables & Fine Art
Maxwells, Wilmslow 21: General, followed by Antiques, Fine Art, Collectables
Silverwoods, Clitheroe 8: Spring sale of Antiques and Fine Art 24: Carriages and Harnesses 29: antiques and collectables
Warren & Wignall, Leyland 8, 19, 26: General 1: Antiques & Fine Art
Whittaker & Biggs, Congleton 1, 9, 16, 23: General 29: Antiques & Collectables (Meerbrook, Leek)
Peter Wilson, Nantwich 1, 8, 29: Gallery Sales 21-22 Antiques & Fine Art
Wright Manley, Beeston 8, 22 Antiques and General
Sales dates can sometimes change and should be checked with the respective auction houses nearer the date

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