Decorative arts sale a healthy sign for the future

Pick of Philips Auctions December decorative arts sale was lot 88 – an exceptional rosewood, ivory and silk Cantonese screen estimated at $20,000-$40,000 – bought by a Chinese purchaser for $72,000 including buyers premium.

The top jewellery item – from the following Monday night auction – also was lot 88 (eight and its multiples are considered lucky numbers in China), bought by the successful bidder for $67,200.

Other jewellery items of note included 1970s cocktail earrings (lot 189) that sold for $3240, a heart shaped tanzanite pendant on a chain (lot 8 - $7800) and an emerald, diamond and tourmaline pendant (lot 36 - $7200).

Bidding in decorative arts started strongly from lot 1 – an antique Swedish maritime lantern – and of the first 28 lots, only one remained unsold.

Lot 9 was typical of the buyers mood, the antique whalebone walking cane selling for $1800 on a $500-$1000 catalogue estimate.

Lot 37, a timber boxed vintage timepiece, was another strong result – selling for $720 on a $50-$100 estimate.

A fine pair of cast bronze porch lions (lot 67) more than doubled the upper estimate of $800, changing hands for $1800.

Chinese buyers have become more discerning in recent times and are now looking for quality with originality in their purchases.

Nevertheless, they are not frightened to pay top dollar if they believe the item to be worth it and lot 104, a Chinese sang-de-boeuf vase proved no exception, selling for 1440.

Silver was another popular auction category. Typical was lot 178, a six-piece sterling silver tea and coffee service, that changed hands for $7200, and lot 186, a four-piece sterling silver coffee service, and lot 187, a Victorian hinged sterling silver spirit kettle, sold respectively for $1440 and $1800.

Porcelain attracted plenty of attention – a small Royal Worcester vase (lot 308) signed by Harry Stinton selling for $2160 and a 1903 Royal Worcester Persian-style vase changing hands for $1200 on a $400-$600 estimate.

Paintings was another strong category, Paul Margocsy’s Male Snowy Owl (lot 389) selling for $2160 and Pablo Picasso etching numbered 40/50 from the 347 suite, Bust of a woman wearing a bonnet, (lot 398) for $1200.

Another Picasso, this time a female nude aquatint number III from the same suite (lot 409), sold for $1560.

Crystal chandeliers were another strong area – a spectacular 20th century pair (lot 440) selling for $8400 – and a 1970s pair of striking venni crystals changing hands for $2760.

Quality furniture is continuing to experience strong growth an 18th century Louis XV kingwood bombe commode (lot 460) selling for $14,400 and two antique giltwood Louis XVI bergères bringing respectively $4320 and $4080.


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