Fine Silver, Objects of Vertu & Russian Works of Art

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'Our next Fine Silver sale on Wednesday 9th October at Dreweatts, Donnington Priory, Newbury is particularly interesting as not only does every lot come from private individuals, but it also encompasses a wide variety of pieces, many from renowned silversmiths,' said James Nicholson, Deputy Chairman and International Head of Jewellery, Silver and Watches.

Amongst the star attractions must be lot 542, the matched set of four late George III circular silver vegetable dishes and covers by Paul Storr (1771-1844); it is generally felt that Storr's level of craftsmanship has seldom been seen since. He was an English gold and silversmith and designer, who worked predominantly in the Neo Classical manner saving his exuberant and ornate style for the magnificent sculptural pieces he made for royalty. The set offered at Dreweatts is engraved with two mantled armorials, a later crest of a wolf head and initials. The shield is for BERESFORD quartering BUTLER and impaling BENNETT, and the crest with two broken spears in the animal's head is also for BERESFORD. These vegetable dishes with handles and covers were commissioned for the marriage of the Revd William Beresford, the 3rd son of William Beresford, DD, 1st Baron Decies (in the County of Waterford) and sometime Archbishop of Tuam, to Lady Anna Bennet (1774-1836), 2nd daughter of the 4th Earl of Tankerville. The later crest of a wolf's head with crown round its neck is for WOLFE, also Irish (estimated £7,000-10,000). This magnificent set came from a private collection in Italy, where Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions have a very successful franchise.

A few years ago Dreweatts sold a large dragon pendent which had belonged to the flamboyant theatre impresario Annie Horniman, famous for bringing the plays of W. B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw to the stage for the first time. It was through her friendship with Yeats, that she agreed to fund the opening in 1904 of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, as a base for the Irish National Theatre. Annie Horniman was the eldest child of the famous tea merchant Frederick Horniman, who founded the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, South London. Having gone to the Slade School of Fine Art in 1882, Annie Horniman developed her interests in the theatre and was famous for her eccentric lifestyle, causing a sensation by openly smoking cigarettes and wearing unusual clothing. Dreweatts is offering various pieces of interest which belonged to her (lot 585), such as silver-gilt and enamel breast badge of the Order of the Companions of Honour, GVR; a Victorian tortoiseshell card case, containing her calling cards and a silver and enamel cigarette case by Cornelius Desormeaux Saunders & James Francis Hollings enamelled with the armorial of King's College, Cambridge. Unexpected amongst these personal items is an early 20th century leather and chromium plated wallet, embossed with her initials and complete with an occult symbol. Horniman was a member of the occult group the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn along with William Butler Yeats, Arthur Machen and Aleister Crowley. This unusual group belonging to a remarkable lady, is estimated to fetch £400-600. Annie Hornimans letters, papers and photographs were purchased by The John Rylands Library of the University of Manchester in 1984.

'All things BRICS (Brazilian, Russian, Indian and Chinese) are the flavour of the moment. There is a fast growing middle class in these countries, which is hungry to buy back the art and antiques of its past,' explained Nicholson. 'We are offering a large group of late 19th century enamelled Russian silver, most of which comes from a single private English collection and these intricately worked pieces will undoubtedly appeal to Russians.' The enamelled silver items from the collection were bought in the Soviet Union between the 1960s and 1980s and range from spoons, beakers, caskets and cigarette and pen cases to salt cellars, jugs, sugar bowls and tea strainers. Sixteenth and 17th century decorative Russian art fell out of favour as Russia looked west during the reigns of Peter and Catherine the Great; by the late 19th century Russia saw a cultural and artistic awakening made popular by, for example, the key silversmith Pavel Ovchinnikov who reintroduced traditional Russian designs and techniques.

Lot 655 for example is a Russian silver and cloisonne enamel casket with the maker's mark 'VR' and the Kokoshnik mark for 1899-1908, assay master Yakov Lyapinov and datable to St. Petersburg 1899-1903. Decorated with scrolling flowers it is estimated £1,500-2,500. Another beautifully worked and extremely pretty piece (lot 631) with shaded enamels of flowering plants and foliage, is the enamel and silver gilt baluster lobed cream jug which was made by the 11th Artel, with the Kokoshnik mark for Moscow 1908-1926; this is expected to fetch £1,200-1,600. The 11th Artel was a leading co operative of silversmiths renowned for working in enamel (both cloisonnee and guilloche), and for creating quality silver objects of the same calibre as pieces made for the Russian court.

Most striking amongst the Indian pieces, is the early 20th century, thewa-work casket from Partabgarh, Rajasthan (Lot 594). The thewa technique consists of carved gold laid over a transparent, emerald green surface and it seems to be limited to a group of enamels associated with Partabgarh, in northwest India and is more usual in jewellery. Made of Indian gold fused onto glass and silver, the cover of the casket at Dreweatts has charming scenes from the life of the Buddha, confronting elephants, musicians and dancers and has an estimate of £1,000-1,500. Lot 595 is made using the same technique, is of a similar date and is a small oval box depicting a horseman shooting an antelope (£150-200).

'During the 1980s and 90s the market for silver was flat, but thanks to the economic turmoil of recent years, the price of silver has risen dramatically, with people wanting to put their money in the best of whichever field they wanted to collect. Hence silver has seen a renaissance and prices are very strong for good quality pieces,' remarked James Nicholson.


Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions are a UK 'top 5' auctioneer of fine art and collectibles. As part of Noble Investments (UK) PLC we are the only UK stock-exchange listed firm of auctioneers and occupy the same stable as coin specialists Baldwin's, and Apex Philatelics. Established in 1759, we have the broadest and most regular calendar of specialist catalogued sales in the industry, numbering over 150 per annum, and provide vendors and buyers alike access to market-leading specialist advice in any number of collecting fields. We operate from salerooms in Donnington Priory (near Newbury), London's Mayfair, Bristol and Godalming.

Dreweatts - 20 September 2013