With a super selection of books as well as the contents of a Welsh castle on offer, there was plenty to excite and entice buyers to Halls Antiques & Interiors auction on 3 February. There was a great deal of hotly contested lots with over 1000 registered bidders competing online and on multiple phone lines.
Anyone local to Shrewsbury will appreciate the special significance of Charles Darwin to the town, but his Origin of Species is a text of global interest. In this auction we were fortunate enough to have a second edition of the work from 1860 in fair condition. With the first edition reaching many tens of thousands of pounds at auction and out of reach for all but the wealthiest of collectors, this second edition represented a terrific opportunity. Attractively estimated at £1000-1500, fierce bidding on the phones brought the hammer price to £2,900 (£3,480 including premium).
Another world famous book, Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, had been given the magical touch of E.H.Sheppard, famous for his Winnie the Pooh illustrations, in a special limited edition of 200 in 1971. Consigned during a valuation day, the example offered in this auction was in splendid condition with its original slip case. The estimate of £300-500 was quickly exceeded in the saleroom, taking the auctioneer all the way up to £1,200 (£1,440 including premium).
Among other highlights in the book section were a first edition of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids which achieved £500 against a £200-300 estimate and two folio volumes from 1815 by Robert Bowyer, chronicling events in the annals of Europe which made just over top estimate at £1,100.
When the owner of Castell Gyrn near Ruthin in North Wales approached Halls with a view to selling its contents, specialist Alexander Clement could see a unique opportunity. Here was a collection of handmade, bespoke and luxury furnishings, works of art and curiosities all under one rather significant roof. Built in 1977 by architect John Taylor, Castell Gyrn is an imposing structure and had been lovingly refurbished by Halls’ vendor and fitted out with furnishings by Clive Christian, Charles Barr and Andrew John Lloyd among other designers.
Highlights included a Clive Christian four-poster bed at £3,800 (estimate £1,000-1,500), a stunning brocade Knole sofa which achieved £1,550 against a £300-500 estimate and a Charles Barr burr walnut sideboard which smashed its £200-300 estimate to sell for £1,400.
The most viewed and talked about item from the whole collection, though, was a Simon Winter carved stone near life-size figure of a recumbent ram. With no auction precedent the artist was untested on the market and estimated accordingly at £200-400 but intense online and telephone bidding brought the price up to £2,100 (£2,600 including premium).
There were excellent prices in other sections of the auction including a large bronze figure of an owl after Jules Moigniez which sold for £1,200 against a £200-300 estimate. In the picture section, a drypoint etching from the hand of William Wyllie depicting RMS Lusitania leaving Liverpool which sold for £650 (estimate £200-300) and an oil on canvas harbour scene by James Power more than doubled its top estimate, also achieving £650, demonstrating the continued strength in 20th century British art. A rare Staffordshire figure of Madame Maria Malibran from 1836 was a top lot in the ceramics section, defying its restored condition to sell for £320 against a £60-80 estimate. And diamonds were the gem of choice with a single stone ring achieving a double-estimate £650 and the top spot for the jewellery department.
In the current climate we were understandably nervous about how the auction without room bidders was going to go but we were equally confident that the high volume of good quality lots in the auction would attract a wide range of buyers and some exciting bidding! We weren't wrong!
The Castell Gyrn collection made £48,000 with £116,000 being the total of the day.
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