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I try to keep you all updated with news and information from the world of antiques and collectables, so please come and visit often.
- Judith Miller
- 17 May 2013, 5:36 PM
When discussing Bonhams’ most recent sale, auctioneer Suzannah Yip commented, “Netsuke, like diamonds, prove that some of the most desirable things come in small packages.” Well, that certainly seems to be the case here! The sale (on Monday the 13th) featured a collection of 58 tiny netsuke figurines that collectively made a massive £611,213!
The collection in question had previously belonged to Adrienne Barbanson (1913–75), author of the ground breaking book on netsuke: ‘Fables in Ivory: Japanese Netsuke and Their Legends’. Long before Edmund de Waal's ‘The Hare with the Amber Eyes’ took the world by storm in 2010, Barbanson’s book was voted one of the 50 most important books of the year in 1961. The 2013 sale at Bonhams included netsuke that were illustrated ‘Fables in Ivory’ – some of which had not been seen in public for 30 years.
Highlights included a wooden netsuke of three monkeys by Toyomasa, which sold for £63,650 and a wooden netsuke of a female hare (see right) also by Toyomasa, sold for £43,250.
As Bonhams point out:
The symbolism that these carvings carry in Japanese legend explains their particular success. In countless Japanese folk tales the monkey displays cunning and wisdom. When the dragon king of the sea became ill, it fell to a jellyfish, which in those days walked around on four legs, to find a live monkey liver for the cure. On being lured to the sea shore, the clever monkey soon realized his fate and fooled the jellyfish back to the forest with promise of five livers that he had left hanging on a tree. When the monkey escaped, the jellyfish was punished by removal of his feet and all the bones in his body.
The hare similarly has an important place in superstition. It is said that long ago the chief gods came to the house of a monkey, a fox and a hare asking for food. The monkey brought him fruits, the fox presented a fish, but the hare had nothing to offer. Tormented, the hare threw himself on the fire as a sacrifice, offering his body as food to the gods. The gods placed the remains of the hare on the face of the moon as an example of his sacrifice and it is still believed today that the markings on the moon portray a hare.
If you’re interested in netsuke, I saw on twitter this morning that Woolley & Wallis’s Asian Art sale on the 23rd of May will feature almost 80 netsuke with estimates ranging from £50 to £1,500. You can read more about them here.
- 13 May 2013, 4:30 PM
It’s always a shame when someone doesn’t realise what they have and damages a valuable antique. Of course, that’s one of the reasons I started producing the ‘Antiques Price Guide’ in the first place. Hopefully many people have flipped through its pages and discovered that something they look at everyday is incredibly rare and desirable.
Vases are particularly susceptible to ‘improvers’. During the early 20th century, many vases were converted into electric lamp bases, a conversion that sometimes necessitated drilling a hole into the bottom of the vase in question. In some cases, mostly with lower value pieces, this only has a minor affect on value. In many cases, however, the drop in value is more extreme.
Take the Qianlong period vase (above) sold last week by Duke’s, for example. Asian art specialist Andrew Mulborough spotted the vase in a home on the Isle of Wight and instantly knew ‘it was a fabulous piece of Chinese porcelain’. The quality of the ceramic and the decoration were so high that it seemed likely the vase had been made for the Qianlong Emperor himself. Unfortunately, the Imperial reign mark that might have confirmed this analysis was missing, probably due to the drill hole! (Seen left with auctioneer Amy Brenan).
Guy Schwinge, a partner at Duke's, said:
‘The irony is that if the vase had not been drilled and turned into a lamp base, it could easily have fetched £100,000. If the Imperial reign mark was still intact, the vase could have sold for more than £500,000!'
As it was, the vase was bought for £47,800 (including buyer’s premium). Nothing to sniff at, of course, but it’s a mere ten per cent of what the vase might have been worth if it had been treated carefully. A salutary tale indeed!
- 05 Apr 2013, 10:50 AM
I've written another guest blog for Antiques for Everyone about a first period Worcester saucer I bought yesterday. It's decorated with a common pattern and would have been worth around £20, except for what was on the back...
To read the post click here.
- 03 Apr 2013, 5:40 PM
I’ve just spent the day vetting at Antiques for Everyone, which opens tomorrow! Remember to come and say hello at stand H44 if you’re planning to attend. We’ll have plenty of books to sell and sign - including those coveted copies of the Antiques Price Guide 2012-2013.
You can read some guest blogs I’ve written for Antiques for Everyone by clicking on the links below:
For a general introduction about what I'll be doing at Antiques for Everyone, click here.
For information about buying first period Worcester, click here.
For information about buying cow creamers, click here.
And to read Mark Hill's guest blog post for Antiques for Everyone, click here.
- Judith Miller
- 19 Mar 2013, 9:57 AM
You may remember that last year I blogged about the KB Collection of mechanical pencils (you can read the original blog post here). Well, in exciting news, all visitors to Antiques for Everyone will also be able to enjoy examining the collection, as Ken Bull will be exhibiting it at the fair.
Here's some more information about the collection:
An unrivalled collection of 600 rare, mechanical pencils from the 19th century will be a major attraction at Antiques for Everyone at the NEC, Birmingham, 4th - 7th April 2013.
Belonging to exhibitor Ken Bull of John Bull (Antiques) Ltd from Mayfair, The KB Collection will be the Feature Display and is sure to be of great interest to visitors. From sporting to hardware pencils, figural, regal and fruit pencils, the collection epitomises the very best of whimsical British design with the majority created by English manufacturer Sampson Mordan*, in addition to examples from other noted makers including Tiffany and Asprey.
The KB Collection made its debut at the Masterpiece Fair in London last July. Antiques for Everyone organiser Dan Leyland is delighted to have the display for visitors to the NEC. ‘It’s a privilege for us to have such a fascinating and important collection. Ken is a regular exhibitor and has decided to take this opportunity to show his collection to our many thousands of enthusiastic collectors.’
With the creation of the fountain pen in 1884, these beautiful mechanical pencils were crafted less and less, making them true emblems of a by-gone era. From the budding fisherman who needs an appropriate pencil to note down the weights of his catch to the adventurer who needs a pencil that includes a compass to help him discover hidden corners of the globe, the KB Collection has a unique pencil for every endeavour – from sporting pencils to hardware pencils via figural pencils, regal pencils and fruit pencils. Each individual pencil, while being exquisite on their own, forms an integral part of this collection; the most humble of pencils is presented next to the most rare and most ornately decorated. The importance of the collection as a whole is paramount.
Ken Bull said: “Building this collection has been a real labour of love. I was fortunate enough to buy an extensive collection of pencils which has helped consolidate the KB Collection into what it is today and has formed the basis for the book which accompanies it. I am fascinated by the astonishing craftsmanship and technical innovation shown by the Victorians who created a pencil for every profession or leisure pursuit”.
To find out more about Antiques for Everyone click here.
To find out more about Ken Bull and the KB Collection click here.