“I suppose after five months nobody could say they didn’t have time to read the catalogue,” quipped Silver specialist, Rupert Slingsby, as the Silver auction originally scheduled for 25th November 2020 got underway on 27th April.
However, buyers soon proved they were undeterred by the double postponement and the sale ended as the department’s strongest auction to date, with a total of £1.19m and 94% of lots sold.
The first day set a good pace, totalling just over £300,000 and with only 35 of the 595 lots failing to find a buyer. However, the real excitement was saved for the second day, which included over 300 lots from a private collection. Several items from the collection had attracted the attention of the national press during lockdown and the 45 lots of hotly anticipated early silver did not fail to disappoint, with a Charles II porringer (lot 2047) realising £32,500; a Charles II tumbler (lot 2028) selling for £22,500; an Elizabeth I chalice (lot 2054) making £15,000, and an Elizabeth I pomander (lot 2056) selling for £13,125.
The collection also included 145 lots of caddy spoons (none of which failed to find a buyer), which realised a total of £107,000 – getting the second day of selling off to a slow but happy start. Highlights of the collection included a Victorian flower spoon (lot 1736) at £2,750, an Omar Ramsden example (lot 1711) at £5,250, and a George III eagle’s wing caddy spoon (lot 1674) at £6,250.
The star lot of the auction also came on the second day with a William IV ice pail by Paul Storr (lot 1980). Purchased from us in July 2014 for £15,500, it proved to have been a sound investment for the canny buyer, selling well over estimate at £38,750.
Asked to comment on the sale’s success, Rupert Slingsby believed recent events had probably helped rather than hindered the market. “I think what has been demonstrated here is the genuine pent-up demand for high quality and especially early silver, which collectors haven’t been able to get their hands on over the past six months. Also, with people unable to spend their money on socialising and experiences, that disposable income is instead being ploughed into material objects and building up their collections.”
Entries are currently being accepted for the next Silver and Objects of Vertu auction on 13th July.
* Prices quoted include buyer's premium at 25%.