Sil­ver ser­vice

A two-day con­tents sale re­veals a man with a tal­ent for en­ter­tain­ing–and the means to do it

Country Life Every Week - - Art Market -

ED­WARD HAUGHEY, Baron Bal­lyed­mond, who died in a he­li­copter crash in 2014, not only col­lected cas­tles and houses, but also fit­ting con­tents for them and he liked to use what he bought. From the quan­tity of ta­ble sil­ver and din­ing ser­vices in Sotheby’s two-day sale of con­tents from his Bel­grave Square town house, his hos­pi­tal­ity must have been as im­pres­sive as the tal­ent that made him a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal for­tune, and his pub­lic ser­vices in Bri­tain and Ire­land.

He was born in Co Louth, just south of the bor­der, and he be­came the third man, af­ter Lords Long­ford and Iveagh, to sit in the up­per houses of both coun­tries.

As is of­ten the case in trou­bled times, size and weight counted as much as qual­ity for the sil­ver, and age was of lit­tle con­cern. The high­est price, £112,500, was paid for an im­pres­sive sil­ver wine cis­tern (Fig 1) by Wil­liam Comyns & Sons, Lon­don, 1992, which weighed 70kg or 2,250oz 16dwt. For the less nu­mer­ate among us, this was ca­pa­ble of hold­ing more than 70 bot­tles of Cham­pagne. It was a re­pro­duc­tion of a Lamerie orig­i­nal with French Ré­gence dec­o­ra­tion and I found it rather ugly. More ap­peal­ing, at £40,000 was a rather smaller Comyns cis­tern of 1989 based on a Charles II de­sign.

Size also mat­tered for the porce­lain, in which a late-19th­cen­tury 437-piece din­ner ser­vice (Fig 3) with Sèvres-style dec­o­ra­tion and Thurn und Taxis ar­mo­ri­als sold for £50,000.

On April 12, I men­tioned that I was com­ing across Thomas Cole clocks all over the place and there were two more here. The first was a gilt-brass strut clock pre­cisely dat­able to 1849 (Fig 6), al­though it was not num­bered as might be ex­pected at that time. The sil­vered dial was en­graved with the mono­gram of Don Agustín Maria Muñoz y de Bor­bòn, 1st Duke of Tarancón (1837–55), a son of Queen Maria Christina, Re­gent of Spain, and her mor­ga­natic se­cond hus­band, Agustín Fer­nando Muñoz, one of her guards­men.

In 1846, a scheme was for­mu­lated by the ousted Pres­i­dent of Ecuador to make the young Duke King of Ecuador and parts of Peru and Bo­livia, but, in spite of some sup­port from Bri­tain as well as Spain, the idea came to noth­ing.

The clock was re­tailed by C. F. Han­cock of Bru­ton Street, ‘By Ap­point­ment toHMQue en Ade­laide and HIM the Em­peror of Rus­sia’, a for­mer part­ner in Hunt & Roskell. Un-num­bered clocks by Cole (1800–64) were

sold by Hunt & Roskell and this had the char­ac­ter­is­tics of a clock dat­ing from about 1845. How­ever, Cole did leave some clocks un­fin­ished so that the di­als could be en­graved with mono­grams. It sold for £6,875.

The next lot, al­though lack­ing pedi­gree, was a grander Cole, an en­graved gilt-brass and mala­chite ta­ble clock of about 1850 (Fig 5), which was num­bered 1578. The tri­pod sup­port was mounted with three sphinxes and it mea­sured 37¾in high. This made a mid-es­ti­mate £40,000.

An­other dis­tin­guished mid19th-cen­tury re­tailer was rep­re­sented by a trav­el­ling jewel case cov­ered in crocodile skin

(Fig 2) that sold for £4,000. In 1858, Robert Thomas Cooke and Charles Kelvey founded their busi­ness in Cal­cutta sell­ing sil­ver and both im­ported and their own master-crafted watches and clocks to ma­hara­jahs and the Bri­tish Raj. They also had their ap­point­ment: to His Ex­cel­lency the Viceroy and Gover­nor-gen­eral.

For a while, they had a Lon­don out­let and the firm still ex­ists in New Delhi. This case, with fold­ing-out vel­vetlined trays, mea­sured 6½in by 18in by 11¼in.

On May 24, Dreweatts of New­bury of­fered con­tents from Ab­botswood, a Glouces­ter­shire house over­look­ing the Swell Val­ley. The owner since 1970 is a col­lec­tor of art and an­tiques and this was a se­lec­tion.

On sev­eral oc­ca­sions in the past, I have writ­ten here about old HMV and other gramo­phones, but never about a Cape­hart. The firm, which flour­ished from the 1930s to the 1950s, was founded by Homer E. Cape­hart and its au­to­matic phono­graphs were ‘the epit­ome of lux­ury’ in the view of afi­ciona­dos. Cape­hart was the first to pro­mote home-en­ter­tain­ment sys­tems, connecting the ra­dio-phono­graph con­sole to re­mote­con­trolled am­pli­fiers and speak­ers in other rooms. The cab­i­nets were built as fine fur­ni­ture. This Cape­hart 400M Deluxe of 1941–2 (Fig 7) was cased in fig­ured ma­hogany. I sus­pect that Amer­i­can Cape­hart fanciers would con­sider £480 cheap. At £12,640, one hand­some Ge­orge I wal­nut and cross­banded bu­reau­cab­i­net (Fig 4) more than dou- bled its es­ti­mate. It had an ap­peal­ing ser­pen­tine arched top cen­tred on a glass panel with a gilt cypher on a red ground for Ge­orge I him­self.

This is linked to the tra­di­tional be­lief that it had once been part of the fur­nish­ings at Hamp­ton Court Palace and was re­moved by the Duchess of Ken­dal, the King’s Ger­man mis­tress. I sus­pect there may be more to be said about a Chi­nese grey crackle-glaze gourd-shaped vase adapted as a lamp (Fig 8), which sold for £21,488. Next week Slow at Mas­ter­piece

Fig 2 right: Trav­el­ling jewel case. £4,000. Fig 3 be­low: Sèvresstyle 437 piece din­ner ser­vice. £50,000

Fig 1: Sil­ver wine cis­tern weigh­ing 2,250oz. £112,500

Fig 7 above: Cape­hart 400M Deluxe phono­graph. £480. Fig 8 right: Grey Chi­nese vase adapted as a lamp. £21,488

Fig 4 above: Wal­nut bureau-cab­i­net. £12,640. Fig 5 left: Gilt-brass and mala­chite ta­ble clock. £40,000

Fig 6: Gilt-brass strut clock of 1849 by Thomas Cole. £6,875

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