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.)

Costume Jewellery

Costume jewellery has been around for many years and was originally designed to be a type of cheap, disposable jewellery.  They were not precious heirloom pieces to be handed down through generations but more an embellishment to a new outfit that could easily be replaced as current fashions changed.  The jewellery was made of inexpensive materials; plated metals and imitation or semi-precious gems.  However, as the trends for costume jewellery increased, it did in fact become an art form of its own with highly skilled, stylish and innovative designs for a fraction of the cost of fine jewellery.

Costume Jewellery Brooch
Costume Jewellery Brooch

Costume jewellery comes in many different settings.  The ‘invisible’ setting is considered the most sophisticated and was developed by the fine jeweller Alfred Philippe who originally worked for the highly prestigious Van Cleef and Arpels before moving to Trifari, a leading costume jewellery company in New York.  The small faux stones are set so closely together than they give the appearance of one large, carved stone providing excellent imitations of precious jewellery.

‘Poured glass’ was another innovative method used; crushed glass was heated and then poured into moulds, giving dramatic results, popular with the likes of Chanel.  The ancient technique of enamelling was also put to good use in costume jewellery, with powdered coloured glass or clear glass with pigments added being fired onto a metal surface, although this did create very fragile items.  The cheapest method of all was gluing, which generally produced the most affordable costume jewellery available.

Costume jewellery can always be found in our Antiques  and  Collectables auctions, exciting lots delicately mixed between our precious stones. In auctions all over the land the interest, excitement and consequently demand for “costume” is on the increase.

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

Pedal Power Leads The Way

An early 20th Century French Renault pedal car topped the prices at Sheffield Auction Gallery’s toy sale on June the 4th. The Devillaine Brothers machine was in a remarkably complete condition for its age and, although showing signs of wear, still raced away to £1,350 hammer price between two telephone bidders, against a £500-800 pre-sale estimate.

An early 20th Century French Renault pedal car
An early 20th Century French Renault pedal car

“This car travelled all the way from France for the sale and despite the condition it shows how genuine rarity holds it’s value. I am delighted with the result”, commented Specialist Valuer and Auctioneer John Morgan.

For more information please visit our Sheffield Auction Gallery website.