Saleroom Life

by Sheffield Auction Gallery

Month: July 2015 (page 1 of 2)

Peridot Stones

August is nearly here and if it will soon be your birthday, whether you know it or not, Peridot is your birthstone.

Luxuriously lime green in colour – although not as highly regarded as a ruby or a sapphire, it is one of very few gemstones that exists in only one colour. The depth of green depends on the content level of iron and the shades of green can vary from a light yellowish green to a dark brownish green.

A Peridot Pendant

A Peridot Pendant

Peridot has been used in jewellery and adornments for thousands of years, making it one of the oldest gemstones.

Egyptians referred to the green jewels as ‘Gems of the Sun’ and the Romans referred to them as ‘Evening Emerald’, because unlike the deep hues of emeralds, peridot stones did not darken in the night and still shimmered under candlelight.

Many exquisite examples of peridot were brought back from around the Mediterranean during the Crusades and used in decorating European cathedrals, where they still remain today.

With the believed healing powers and legend to protect from evil, while bringing happiness and success to the wearer, peridot remains a popular choice as a gemstone within jewellery today.

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Written by Specialist Valuer Sarah Clark, B.A.(Hons.)

Midwinter Pottery

Midwinter was established by William Robinson Midwinter in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent in 1910 but is probably most famous for its commercial pottery from the 1950s which was the work of his son, Roy who wanted to revolutionise British tableware. Midwinter from this period is a favourite amongst collectors.

Roy Midwinter launched two new ranges in the 1950s inspired by American ceramics styles; Stylecraft in 1953 and later Fashion in 1954, believed to be particularly inspired by Eva Zeisel’s work which Roy Midwinter viewed while visiting America. Zeisel’s ceramics caught the eye of Roy Midwinter as they followed the same stylistic choices that he wanted to bring to his work; she was famous for her sensuous forms often with shapes based around the curves of the human body. The new Midwinter ranges focused on more organic shapes, removing rims from dinner plates for example and experimenting with very curvy teapots resembling pregnant women. The collections were more affordable and aimed at a younger market, marking a move away from the soberness of the post-war period.

The more modern shapes were accompanied by contemporary patterns and Midwinter looked especially to younger designers to complete the transformation of their domestic wares. Jessie Tait was their resident designer producing her best work during this period and being generally regarded as their most talented and prolific designer. However, Midwinter also commissioned other artists to work on his new ranges such as furniture designer Sir Terence Conran, well known for his ‘Vegetable’ pattern and architect Sir Hugh Casson, well known for his ‘Riviera’ pattern, both of whom are very popular amongst collectors. Midwinter backstamps often carry the name of both the pattern and the designer.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information please visit our Sheffield Auction Gallery website.

SOLD, to the lady in the hat!!

Ever been to an auction? Put off or daunted by the thought of them? You’ve never been to one but you’d quite like to really? There really is nothing simpler or more straight forward, and you really won’t buy something by scratching your nose, contrary to most auction virgin’s belief!

We are on one of Sheffield’s main roads, Chesterfield Road (A61) at Heeley next to the retail park. We have our own car park and equipped with disabled facilities. Our auctions are fortnightly on either Thursday/Friday or Friday/Saturday. We have a full range of General, Specialist and Fine Art auctions which are listed on our website.

Sheffield Auction Gallery's Purpose Built Salerooms at Heeley

Sheffield Auction Gallery’s Purpose Built Salerooms at Heeley

Auctions can be viewed in both Salerooms the day before the auction, so why not come down for a look. If there is something that interests you, we provide estimates on all auction lots in the catalogues, so you know the rough guide price. If you then wish to bid, you will need to register to do so by providing something with proof of address and then you’re away!

Our specialist auctions are also available for bidding on-line in real-time, so you don’t even need to be present in the saleroom, you can bid at your own computer or even mobile phone, wherever you may be in the world!

Bid in real time without even being present at our auctions in Sheffield

Bid in real time without even being present at our auctions in Sheffield

We don’t bite so come and say hello!

For more information about us, please see our main website

Curiouser and Curiouser!

Sorting through a box of mixed items consigned for sale, amongst the paper and ceramics I came across a box. Inside the box I found nearly a dozen miniature creatures. Each hand made and naturalistically detailed as insects and reptiles.

Silver Centipede

Silver Centipede

On inspection they appear to be made of thin sheets of silver, tooled and decorated to look like the real thing – miniature studies of nature wrapped up and kept together for the last however-many-years.

Throughout time artists have produced their own interpretations of creatures and animals through painting, sculpture and metal work. Providing reference for the learner, at times when books were limited and there was no such thing as the internet.

A group of silver insects

A group of silver insects

Working in an Auction Gallery environment we see all kinds of works, depicting all kinds of creatures. However, for me, these little models are certainly the preferred way to look at creepy crawlies!

A private collection of creatures and insects

A collection of creatures and insects which will be going under the hammer in our forthcoming Two-Day Auction of Silver, Jewellery & Watches on Thursday 22nd October 2015

Silver & Silver Plate Specialist Sarah Clark

For further information on these or any of our Specialist Auctions, please visit our Sheffield Auction Gallery website.

20th Century Design Forever

The 1960’s and 70’s saw some silversmiths becoming less interested in designing anonymously for large manufacturers, and started to set out on their own. Focusing on their own style meant they could also publicise and market their own creations.

Regarded as one of the great goldsmiths and silversmiths of the 20th Century – Australian born Stuart Devlin is one such example. Being acclaimed by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths as the designer with “the Midas touch”, he believed that the role for a contemporary silversmith was to ‘enrich the way people live and work’.

The overall nature of precious metals gave Devlin the opportunity to design pieces that added delight, surprise, intrigue, and even amusement. A recipe for huge success in the concept of ‘limited editions’. The most popular being the novelty Easter eggs and Christmas boxes.

Over time he devised and adapted new techniques in producing wide varieties of textures, finishes and filigree forms, resulting in a new collection being produced each year.

He was later commissioned by Viners of Sheffield to produce a range of stainless steel tableware, utilising the stark contrast of shiny ‘silver’ with textured ‘gold’. Although phased out in 1979, the collection included wine and champagne goblets, dishes and candle holders.

A collection of Stuart Devlin Stainless Steel Tableware

A collection of Stuart Devlin Stainless Steel Tableware

The quality, the workmanship and the overall appearance of Devlin’s work, together with limited numbers produced, result in high prices being realised at auction. Many pieces being highly sought after by collectors.

“If I have made a contribution, it has been to add elements of richness and intrigue to purely functional objects such as knives and forks. It seems this element has been sadly missed since the turn of the (20th) century”

Today, in his 80’s, Stuart Devlin continues to create stunning and interesting pieces, from his studio in West Sussex.

Jewellery Specialist Sarah Clark

For further information on these or any of our Specialist Auctions, please visit our Sheffield Auction Gallery website.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!

Specialising in Jewellery, I am very fortunate to see many stunning and exquisite pieces. They can range from something handed down from generation to generation, or a costume piece purchased a few years ago. Fashions and taste play a large part in the open market valuation of jewellery as well as the overall condition.

With the current trend for precious pieces to be set in white gold and platinum, it seems the market for good quality costume jewellery has increased too. Diamante necklaces, earrings and dress rings (with a little mix and match) can look as good as the real thing for a fraction of the cost.

Nevertheless, we all know that diamonds are a girl’s best friend and ‘that’ special ring has got to be special.

Whether you are looking for a timeless classic or something modern and a little different – auction is the place to go. New, second hand or antique, our Specialist Jewellery auctions offer amazing examples to suit every budget – at significantly reduced prices than the high street equivalent.

An example I have seen of this recently was a very good colour and clarity,  2 carat diamond ring in a local retail environment, priced at over £14,000; something which you would expect to see at auction in the region of £3,000 to £4,000 (plus 21% buyers premium), there are real savings to be had!

Quality New & Modern Secondhand Diamond Set Rings

Quality New & Modern Secondhand Diamond Set Rings

Jewellery Specialist Sarah Clark

For further information on these or any of our Specialist Auctions, please visit our Sheffield Auction Gallery website.

Ashford Marble

During the 19th Century the marble works at Ashford-in-the-Water, Derbyshire became a tourist attraction as demand soared following the outstanding success of Ashford Marble at the Great Exhibition in 1851. The Royal household exhibited three exceptional inlaid black marble tables made at the workshops of T. Woodruff, Bakewell – which it was said even rivalled the work of Italian Masters.

Following Prince Albert’s death in 1861, Queen Victoria went into mourning which resulted in the fashion and taste for black clothing and adornments. This popularised Whitby Jet Jewellery and Ashford Marble. However, Queen Victoria was long familiar with Ashford Marble.

Having stayed at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, with its marble interiors and massive marble doorways, this inspired a visit to the Ashford Marble Works in 1832, where a number of purchases were made. Even earlier than this, Bess of Hardwick used Ashford Marble for the chimney piece in the Great High Presence Chamber, when building Hardwick Hall in 1580.

After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, the popularity and demand for black marble began to diminish and sadly, with the introduction of cheaper substitutes (painted designs on treated slate) the industry fell in to terminal decline, and closed in 1905.

Today Ashford Marble jewellery and ornaments are widely collected, with exquisite examples being highly sought after. The dramatic beauty of the polished black surface with decoratively inlaid designs, inspired by the Florentine pietra dura and Italianate mosaics of a time gone by.

A suite of Ashford Marble jewellery from the Buxton Museum & Art Gallery collection

A suite of Ashford Marble jewellery from the Buxton Museum & Art Gallery collection

 

Jewellery Specialist Sarah Clark

For further information on these or any of our Specialist Auctions, please visit our Sheffield Auction Gallery website.

Floral Enamelled Buttons

Valuable curiosities can crop up when you least expect them!

Jewellery Specialist Sarah Clark writes….

Having set myself the task of ‘learning something new today’ – information that I could perhaps pass on to someone else or store up and bring to the fore, should something similar cross my path in the future, I unfortunately realised that today was not going to be that day… The priority of seeing visiting Clients, valuing items and preparing for our forthcoming auction was clearly going to keep me busy for much of the time.

However, whilst carrying out a valuation with a Client, another lady came in. I noticed she had a picture and a plate (not my area of expertise) but she also had a small wooden box. Similar boxes I have seen contain pens or small mathematical instruments… nothing unusual there, but intriguing nonetheless. The lady was seen by a colleague and her items we consigned for auction.

On further inspection the box was very light, a bit tired, the small fastening catch didn’t fit properly and appeared to me to be of no particular value. To my astonishment when opening the box, I was amazed to see a set of six beautifully enamelled buttons. Each depicting flowers, highlighted in pinks and purples, with vivid green stems and leaves. Not what I was expecting from such an unassuming case!

Set of Six beautifully enamelled buttons

Set of Six beautifully enamelled buttons

The buttons date from the late 19th/early 20th Century and are decorated using a technique called Gin Bari or Gin Bari Foil. Developed in Japan, it involves using a colour tinted enamel over a sheet of embossed foil. Similar in appearance to Cloisonné enamel, the decoration can be found on vases and ornaments, novelties and collectors pieces, much produced throughout the 20th Century.

You just never know what is going to come through the Auction Gallery door!

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Written by Specialist Valuer Sarah Clark, B.A.(Hons.)

Wemyss Ware

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse writes….

Wemyss ware was first produced by the Fife pottery in Kirkcaldy, Fife in 1882 and was the invention of Robert Heron, pottery owner and Karel Nekola, an incredibly gifted designer and decorator from Bohemia (Czech Republic). The name comes from the Wemyss family of the Wemyss castle who were very enthusiastic patrons of the new wares.

Wemyss Ware

Wemyss Ware

In 1932, production moved to Bovey Pottery in Devon and under the direction of Joseph Nekola, Karel’s son, they continued to make Wemyss Ware until the pottery’s closure in 1957, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Wemyss took inspiration from the British countryside with very naturalistic designs including flowers, fruits, birds and animals but is probably most famous or recognisable for their cabbage rose designs and their range of cat and pig figures. Although the pottery was successful in its day, popularity has been cemented by collectors, who included the Queen Mother, with rare examples of Wemyss ware realising high prices at auction.

The pigs are a particular favourite of collectors with some being more prized and so more expensive to acquire. The larger pigs, up to 45cm, are very sought after with the green shamrocks and the cabbage rose decorations being the most desirable. The pigs were designed for children’s nurseries in wealthy stately homes being sold exclusively by Thomas Goode in Mayfair. A whole range were produced; some had slots for money, some were personalised with dates and names, some were very small paperweight-sized and of course some much larger. The bright, bold and colourful designs stood out against a stark white background making these enchanting pigs very appealing to the eye.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Coffers

Coffers

The coffer is generally acknowledged as the earliest form of furniture as we know it today; something that added a level of comfort to a home and often the only piece of furniture in poorer homes. Coffers that survive today date back as far as the 13th century but they were around many years before that and used for a variety of reasons from storing food or clothing, hiding treasure or coins and even weapons. They acted as tables, seating and sometimes even coffins. Some were made with feet indicating permanent pieces of furniture while others had huge handles on either end to be used to transport items and curved tops to drain water and so protect their contents. They were also often filled up and used as a dowry with many examples featuring the bride and groom’s initials and the date of the wedding carved in decoration. Even now in the twenty first century unsuspecting parents who have been lucky enough to have daughters may find their coffer housing more than one wedding dress from more than one daughter, as I have to say is our own coffer.

An XVIII Century Oak Coffer

An XVIII Century Oak Coffer

Originally a crude box of planks nailed together they developed over time and by the 17th century they were joined, panelled and often expertly carved. By later in the century, however, there was a more important change and they began to evolve into a more useful and refined piece of furniture; a novel new addition of a drawer at the bottom became popular. Thus solving the biggest inconvenience of the coffer; how to get to the things at the very bottom.

An XVII Century Joined Oak Coffer

An XVII Century Joined Oak Coffer

This development, the missing link between a coffer and the later chest of drawers, a hybrid of the two, was known as a mule chest. And so the coffer made by a joiner was to become the fine chest of drawers with a fixed top made by a cabinet maker.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

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