Specialist buyer on phone sinks Titanic internet battle

Clarks’ traditional New Year’s Day sale proved yet another record breaker for the East Cornwall saleroom with over 90% of entries sold for fantastic prices. Auctioneer Paul Clark said “All credit must go to my team who worked extremely hard. We had in excess of 850 emailed enquiries a week prior sale & over 1000 online bidders come hammer time” adding “It was a very long drive on the day but quite frankly I love the physical & mental challenge it offers”.

The Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon “Titanic” Briggs made cane, one of the most interesting items to appear at a Devon & Cornwall saleroom in recent years, created waves both sides of the Atlantic when making £7400 at the hammer, crushing its £300-500 guide price. An epic internet battle ensued with eventually the winner of that being sunk by a phone bidder. Auctioneer Paul Clark said “In a market undermined with ‘fakes’ it was an amazing price for a rural saleroom to achieve. The buyer is a specialist within this genre & they were happy to purchase a ‘straight piece’ for their client”. The cane itself it would seem was probably was not on the Titanic but it is believed Sir. Cosmo Duff-Gordon had this with him at the following court case after his behaviour was questioned, a controversy that surrounds his memory even today.

Across the sale, irrespective of what it was, the hammer prices were astounding as collectors, higher end dealers & decorators around the globe set to work. Two small oil studies by Plymouth artist Robert Lenkiewicz exceeded expectations when making £4000 & £3900 respectively. Auctioneer Paul Clark said “I wasn’t quite sure how these would be received as Lenkiewicz was so prolific but I was pleased with the good hammer prices for such pieces”. A small 18thC. oil of Sir Michael Newton made £800 despite faults & a modern Susan Webb oil on canvas hunt scene saw interest at £940.

The sale saw record Chinese interest with an 18thC. Kangxi bowl achieving £2000 at the hammer. Despite several minor faults, the bowl massively exceeded its £100-150 guide. Another, this time 20thC. Chinese bowl & cover, also achieved well above its estimate at £440 but a finely painted Chinese watercolour scroll of a goose saw a UK based collector trump a Chinese based US bidder on the internet at an impressive £2100. A small lidded Oriental style jar again saw interest well above its £20-30 guide when making £200.

The right furnishings attract the right money. A copper cream urn (£230) & a Victorian chaise longue (£540) were both very popular. A pine chiffonier did four times estimate at £240 while a late small mouseman milking stool impressed at £230. A walnut hat stand (£140), a small farmhouse trestle table (£200) & a Victorian walnut Canterbury (£280) all bucked current “brown furniture” trends.

Interest in items submitted at the end of the summer by British actress Mrs. Michele Dotrice on behalf of her husband, the late Mr. Edward Woodward of film & television, reached their pinnacle at this sale. An ebonised silver topped “cobra” cane saw bids of £330 whilst a silver mounted amethyst geode made £380. A 17thC. Barker bible owned by Mr. Woodward saw interest at £600 despite faults whilst a pair of Russian night vision binoculars (£860) also did very well.

The 83 lot Troika collection from Huddersfield in Yorkshire saw great interest, notably a mask by Louise Jinks which made £820 whilst a similar Marilyn Pascoe piece made £760. An Avril Bennet chimney vase saw bids make £210 while an Anvil vase made strong money at £480. Two Benny Sirota double vase saw interest at £540 & £460 respectively. A Troika cube vase (£220) & a small wheel vase by Judith Ilsley (£110) were other highlights among many.

Engineering items often do well at our Liskeard based saleroom with a German Doll stationary steam engine seeing tremendous interest interest at £1900. A small tin plate “Express” steam engine also saw a lot of support at £220 while a hand built model of HMS Cruiser made £280. A quantity of a/f playworn Dinky & Lesney (£150) & large cased model of the “Sovereign Of The Seas” made £300.

Jewellery & silver has a good following at the Heathland Road based saleroom. A three stone diamond trilogy ring of approx. 1.8ct saw interest at £2400 while an amber necklace saw worldwide interest at £1600. A fine Carrera Y Carrera 18ct brushed & polished gold necklace made top end of its guide at £800 while a c.1720 gold posy ring treasure hunt find with the inscription “Lett Vertue Bee Yor Guid” sold to a collector at £600. An early 20thC. diamond & sapphire ring (£580), an Edwardian “fruit salad” necklace (£420) & a 9ct gold ring set with topaz almost tripled its guide at £170. A silver claret jug (£300) & a Georg Jensen fork (£200) made their money while a fine French silver gilt letter opener & seal set made £390. An 18thC. French 0.950 silver Empire style chocolate pot (£380) & a Hester Bateman fish slice (£280) both did well.