Pick of the week
In my youthful days on the front counter at Christie’s, when we happily accepted all sorts of wonderful things for sale that would never be considered (or perhaps even identified) by our modern-day equivalents, company policy was that we would not offer Japanese shunga prints or indeed most other types of erotica. If memory serves, pocket watches concealing naughty automata and snuffboxes with hidden amorous scenes were sometimes included in auctions, but little else. Now, of course, erotica (like Hilaire Belloc’s Miss Charming) is accepted everywhere. Bloomsbury Auctions has recently held its first specialised session and although there does not seem to have been an orgy of bidding, a good time was had by all. The majority of the lots were books, prints and drawings, with occasional examples of shunga, two elegant if somewhat boastful (proud, indeed) dildos and a couple of risqué boxes. The sale’s climax was a price of £8,680 for a French circular tortoiseshell-and-gold snuffbox of about 1780 (left), which contained an inner painting of a lady and her confessor caught in flagrante by her husband.