Saleroom Life

by Sheffield Auction Gallery

Month: September 2017


Peter Carl Faberge was born in 1846 and he gained a reputation for elegance and originality in his jewellery design after taking over his father’s shop in St Petersburg at the tender age of twenty four.

In 1884 he was commissioned by the Tsar Alexander III to make the first Imperial Easter egg. These projects became top priority for the company and were planned and worked on far in advance, sometimes for over a year. Fifty six Imperial eggs were made and the location of all but about ten is known. Could it be……….?!

This relationship with the Imperial family blossomed and lasted right up until the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and it opened up many doors of influence for Faberge. Perhaps his greatest success was expanding production to include purely decorative objects, called his ‘Objects of Fantasy’.

Many of the Faberge pieces sold today fetches huge prices on the international stage with a ‘jet set’ following. However it is still possible to purchase some of the more ‘modest’ brooches or smaller jewellery items such as tiepins and cuff links in salerooms at more reasonable prices. The miniature enamel and jewelled egg pendants are still far and away the most popular of all these ‘more affordable’ gems.

What about fakes? Well, fakes are so common in the field of Faberge that the Fine Art world came up with a special little phrase, ‘Fauxberge’ to encompass them all. They include everything from near perfect matches to disastrous copies.

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


I wonder what Alexander Graham Bell would make of the modern all singing all dancing mobile phone, because it was he who set the ball rolling in1876 when he patented the speaking telephone. Since then all manner of designs for this amazing invention have been made. An early design for the telephone was the ‘candlestick’ model made with a separate mouth piece and ear piece, synonymous with Al Capone.

It was however, the invention of Bakelite that saw the development of telephones take a new direction, beginning with ‘pyramid’ phones which are now Art Deco icons. Commonly made in black, the rarer green, white and red versions make much more at auction.

A beautiful copper, brass & bakelite telephone

A beautiful copper, brass & bakelite telephone

All Bakelite telephones show their date and manufacturer on the base and their value increases if they still have their original chrome dial, plaited cord and pullout drawer in tact. Like most things, the telephone also had it designers styles; the first of these is largely credited to the ‘Ericofon’. It was the first one piece telephone and was developed by Ericsson in the early 1950’s. It came in fourteen different colours but pink and orange still are the rarest and most collectable.

The production of the ‘Ericofon’ was world wide. The British one piece telephone, the ‘Trimphone’ and the Italian version ‘Grillo’ never achieved the success of the ‘Ericofon’ and very few are available on the auction market today. Obviously though, this only increases their value if you are lucky enough to find one. The value of a telephone lies in the desirability of the model and the rarity of the colour.

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

Vacuum Cleaners

My wife has always told me I am good at vacuuming and over the last 40 years I have always patted myself on the back and proudly led the vacuuming way in our household. Lately however I have begun to question my prowess and wondering if she is just telling me that so I will always do it. Surely not……

If we had lived in Victorian or Edwardian England vacuuming would never have been an issue because the Vacuum Cleaner wasn’t invented until 1899 and as with all new inventions it was huge. Early models could easily be mistaken for fire engines.

Having your house vacuumed meant ordering the vacuum cleaner, which was pulled by horses and stopped outside your door. The nozzled hoses were then passed through the windows and the process could begin. This was such a novelty that people would ask there friends around to tea and everyone would sit and watch the amazing cleaner at work.

It was not long though before the Edwardians managed to significantly reduce the size of the cleaner and by the end of the First World War they were much more portable and much more common.

In the saleroom vacuum cleaners from the Edwardian early portable period are highly prized and can realise many hundreds of pounds. Examples from later in the century, however, are less desirable although the present fascination with all things retro has certainly encouraged this market. Examples from the 1950’s and 1960’s which were once destroyed are now increasingly popular. Perhaps now is the time to invest.

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

Walking Sticks

My wife is a rabologist. There I’ve said it. After years of keeping it behind closed doors the world is now aware of her affliction and hopefully now can appreciate what I have had to live with for the last forty years.

For the uninitiated a rabologist is a collector of walking sticks. Fortunately with counselling and a great deal of family support we have managed to reduce my wife’s collection to one fairly full stick stand in the entrance hall.

It all began in the 17th century, when a heavy stick replaced the sword as a fashionable accessory for the man about town. Although essentially a walking stick it was also used as a weapon. From here the walking stick developed and it had many styles and numerous functions.

Believe it or not the subject is so vast that I have picked just three of my favourites. Firstly there is the Tippling Cane, sometimes referred to as a Tippler. This cane has a section at the top which is hollowed out, allowing room for a glass flask or vial which holds the owners favourite “tipple”.

Secondly the Swagger Stick, a shorter stick, used in the military. Swagger sticks are usually made of polished wood with a metal tip displaying regimental insignia making them very collectable.

Lastly, the Shillelagh, an Irish walking stick and club, stout and knotty with a large knob at the top. The knob is sometimes hollowed out and filled with lead, making it a much more effective weapon and then called a loaded stick.

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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