The excitement of this two-day sale was very much an extraordinary collection of Maori artefacts with an unbroken provenance dating back to their acquisition in 1837 by one of the earliest English missionaries to New Zealand.
The collection, is the remains of a larger shipment of artefacts sent back to England by Philip Hansen King (1813-80), son of John King, one of three lay missionaries sent on the first mission to New Zealand in 1814 under the direction of Samuel Marsden, the senior Anglican minister in New South Wales.
We received many pre-sale enquiries from the UK and overseas, as well as Radio New Zealand doing a big splash on this lovely story. People online and on the phone were all bidding for the individual Lots. Such was the enthusiasm of the bidders that one actually whooped with joy when he realised he had won the bid! It always makes this job fun and exciting when a bidding war ensues over something historical and with an interesting back story. The Maori collection, including Hei Tiki Green Nephrite and Lure Hooks, from early 19th century, fetched in excess of £48,000.
Some other highlights include an 18th Century two-division Tea Caddy inlaid with mother of pearl. With an estimate of £200-400, it fetched £3600. Also a small Louis Vuitton leather box, stamped Louis Vuitton, fetched a huge £14,500 with an estimate of £300-500.
On day two, The Marquis of Rockingham Silver, a superb collection of George II and early silver given to his chaplain Dr William Knowler as a gift in 1749, sold for £16,000.
Knowler, who was educated at St John’s College, Cambridge, graduated B.A. in 1720, M.A. in 1724, and LL.D. in 1728. On leaving Cambridge, he became chaplain to Thomas Watson Wentworth, then Lord Malton, who was created Marquis of Rockingham in 1746. Lord Malton had inherited the papers of his great-grandfather, Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford, and charged his chaplain with the task of publishing a selection from them. This appeared in 1739 under the title of ‘The Earl of Strafford’s Letters and Despatches,’ London, 2 vols. folio. They were selected, says Knowler, in the dedication he addressed to his patron, by Lord Malton himself, and published according to his instructions, in order to vindicate Strafford’s memory from “the aspersions of acting upon arbitrary principles, and being a friend to the Roman catholics”.
Also included in the sale was a silver and ivory paperknife, an inscribed gift from Oscar Wilde To Arthur Fish (his Editor). Dated 1890, it fetched £1100 plus premium.
The next Fine Antique sale will be 9th November. Details online nearer to the sale.