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20th Century Design Sale: Results

28th February 2022.

A rare Martin Brothers’ ‘Wally Bird’ jar made in 1902 topped Tennants Auctioneers’ 20th Century Design Sale on 26th February, when it sold for £15,000 (plus buyer’s premium). Martin Brothers is one of the most significant names in the history of British pottery, but it is their iconic ‘Wally Birds’ for which they are best remembered. Robert Wallace Martin created stoneware tobacco jars and covers in the form of anthropomorphic birds, standing erect and full of character with sly expressions or mischievous grins. Often the birds represented figures from Victorian society, from barristers and admirals to urchins off the street.

A Private Collection of Whitefriars Glass, including an unusual quantity of ‘Banjo’ vases in rare colours such as Aubergine, sold for a total hammer price of £18,900 for 29 lots. The collector, who was from the North East of England, was a glazier who loved colour, seeking out unusual pieces. The top lot of the collection was a meadow green large textured Banjo vase, designed by Geoffrey Baxter in 1967, which sold for £1,900.

In a strong sale Art Deco was in demand, with iconic pieces of design from this era attracting strong bidding. Notable lots included an Art Deco “The Master Incolor” Cocktail Shaker, which sold for £1,200 against an estimate of £200-300, and a copy of Harry Craddock’s ‘The Savoy Cocktail Book’, which sold for £1,100. The first edition of this colourful and witty book was in good condition and was considered the bible of cocktail making of the era. Three lots relating to Eric Ravilious sold well, too; a copy of J. M. Richards’ 1938 ‘High Street’, illustrated with colour lithographs by Ravilious, sold for £1,700, a Wedgewood Travel Windsor Gray Fine Earthenware Dinner Service sold for £1,100, and a Wedgwood Queen Elizabeth II 1953 Coronation mug sold for £250. Three classic Art Deco figural table lamps sold for well over estimate, lead by an example more than doubled its top estimate to sell for £700.

The lots of Mouseman furniture and furnishings achieved a 100% sold rate, with pieces by the illustrious Yorkshire maker selling well above estimate. Notable lots included a 1930s Panelled English Oak Blanket Chest that sold for £4,000, and two wonderfully patinated English Oak Fruit Bowls that sold for £1,300 and £700.

Finally, one of the most eye catching lots in the sale, an opulent Hollywood Regency Style Floor Lamp modelled in lacquered brass and pewter as a Date Palm Tree sold for £4,000. Thought to have been made in the 1970s by a fabricating specialist Lance Thomson in the South of England, it was commissioned by Philip and Stephanie Asher for their Party Room at Nurayla, Chilworth Road, Southampton. The Hollywood Regency Style is marked by lavish glamour with a sense of humour, redolent of the Golden Age of Hollywood from 1930-1950.

The sale achieved a total hammer price of £174,509 for 245 lots, and a 94% sold rate.


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