IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MAN
William Percy French (1854-1920) was one of the foremost Irish songwriters and entertainers of his day. Renowned for composing and singing comic songs, the most famous of which is arguably The Mountains of Mourne, he possessed outstanding wit and humour. He also turned his hand to painting and it was a pair of his small watercolours that appeared unexpectedly from the back of a local car stopping, just in case, en route for one of the town’s charity shops. At just 17cm x 25 cm the landscapes were small and both fairly understated. They were, however, clearly signed with French’s distinguished signature. Had they been hanging in a local charity shop window some half an hour later or so, and priced at say £30 the pair, most of us would probably have walked right on past, but such is the regard that this artist is still held in by his fellow countrymen, that his works often out- perform better works by better artists. Estimated at a conservative £200 to £300, the pair made £3,000.
Sixteen lots of 19th century and earlier stained-glass windows, abandoned some fifty years ago in a Cheltenham garden, had been rescued by us during a clearance. They had subsequently been cleaned, washed and installed in timber frames by the saleroom staff to stabilize them and to allow viewing. Although heavily damaged and in the main incomplete, they nonetheless found several serious buyers. They all sold and totalled £6,000, and are now all awaiting restoration.
Amongst the ceramics an early 20th century Japanese satsuma vase decorated with poultry in a landscape made £1,250, while amongst the silver, a cased set of six Liberty & Co silver and enamel teaspoons, accompanied by a Liberty Cymic napkin ring sold for £1,450. It was the napkin ring which was the rarity here, designed by Archibald Knox and despite the damage considered a very rare find. Never have we sold a single damaged napkin ring for such a price.
Two pieces by the acclaimed silversmith Omar Ramsden including a twin handled porringer together with a spoon totalled £1,040. A large and comprehensive suite of Victorian silver cutlery, some 200 ounces in total made £2,150. Once again, the jewellery section had a strong following, with £1,650 paid for a fine Art Deco diamond ring and an overall total of around £11,500.
A small collection of 19th century musical boxes sold in six varying lots and realized a total of £3,000. Two lots of tribal weapons realised £900 and a collection of bisque headed and later dolls totalled a little over £2,800. The best of the textiles saw a Qing dynasty silk robe make £1,350.
Furniture and outdoor effects saw a surprisingly strong demand, particularly for garden ornaments. An Atco ride on mower sold at £1,200, while amongst the furniture £800 was taken for a William IV extending dining table, £1,250 for a Scottish oak estate cabinet and £1,600 for a good two sectional military secretaire chest. A rather lovely but primitive rural oak gaming table, dating from around 1800, made £940, and £1,400 was paid for a London longcase clock in a walnut case.
A good 19th century portrait by Thomas Martine Ronaldson of a lady in a wide brimmed hat sold at £1,100 and finally stamps seemed to be, as ever, in strong demand with this section alone totaling over £6,000.
At the time of writing, the snow has both come and gone, which delayed the clearance of purchases from the saleroom. However, we somehow always catch up and over the next few days we will see the rooms fill to capacity.