The toast of the town

18th June 2021

Nearly £90,000 has been raised for charity following the auction of a Bristol man’s collection of 18th century drinking glasses.

The late Terence Woodfield left instructions in his will that his collection of around 150 glasses be sold at auction to benefit four different charities and, following the sale at Woolley and Wallis on 16th June, over £89,000 will soon be going to benefit the varied causes.

“It was a remarkable collection which contained some real rarities,” said Woolley and Wallis’s glass specialist, Clare Durham. “Several of the glasses had been bought from previous well-known collections and are illustrated in reference works on the subject. As quite a few of those haven’t been seen on the market for 30 or 40 years, buyers were falling over themselves to add pieces to their own collections.”

The top lot of the collection happened to be the first one to come under the hammer – a rare late 17th century baluster glass with an egg-shaped knop. Teasingly estimated at £600-1,000, it soon shot over expectations and sold for £12,500 including premium. Other rarities included a beaker enamelled in the Newcastle workshop of the Beilby family and inscribed for ‘The Coal Trade’. It was hotly contested by buyers both in the room and on the telephone, selling for £11,875.

One glass with an interesting history was engraved with a ship and the inscription, “Success to the Dreadnought Privateer”. The Dreadnought was a Bristol ship granted letters of marque in 1757, which allowed it to seize French ships in a form of legalised piracy. Such wine glasses were often given to the owners or captains of such a ship and a rare survivals. This particular example had been broken through the stem and repaired with a silver sheath. Despite its damage it sold for £3,125.

“The high prices we saw for this collection not only reflect the rarity of some of the glasses but also the absence of opportunity for collectors to see, handle and purchase 18th century drinking glasses of this quality,” continued Durham. “Collections of this calibre don’t come onto the market very often and that, coupled with the frustration brought about by the pandemic, has resulted in high demand for good objects.”

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