News & Insights

Handbags, Hat Pins and a Historic Giraffe

26th November 2018.

Tennants Auctioneers’ sale of Costume, Accessories & Textiles on 24th November saw the continuing demand for luxury designer goods at auction, as well as good prices for collectable vintage costume and accessories.

The top lot of the sale was a 2009 black leather Birkin Bag by Hermès, which sold for £5,000 (plus buyer’s premium). The legendary handbag, first created in the 1980s for actress Jane Birkin, has become an icon of fashion. In good condition with original dust bag, authenticity card and fittings, examples such as this retain a high resale value at auction. Further vintage and modern designer goods sold strongly too, with a Prada calf leather ‘Hobo’ bag selling for £450 (plus buyer’s premium) against a £100-150 estimate and a late 19th century Louis Vuitton Cabin Trunk selling for £1,800 (plus buyer’s premium). A further circa 1950s Louis Vuitton Monogrammed Suitcase, which had been purchased by the vendor’s parents in Paris in the circa 1950s, sold for £650 (plus buyer’s premium).

Amongst several good private collections in the sale was a collection of hat pins, which sold for a combined hammer price of £4,550 (plus buyer’s premium) against a combined hammer price of £1,760-2,800. Top lots included a group of 12 assorted early 20th century silver, silver plate, brass and enamel mounted hat pins, which sold for £650 (plus buyer’s premium), and a rare Royal Doulton Kingsware Hat Pin, with a portrait of a cavalier on a silver mount stamped B & Co Birmingham, 1907 sold for £480 (plus buyer’s premium).

A circa 1830s quilt, composed of strips of different Indian block printed fabrics, sold for £1,800 (plus buyer’s premium). The quilt is notable for the inclusion of a fabric depicting 'Zarafa and Atir', the female Nubian giraffe gifted from Muhammed Ali of Egypt to King Charles X of France in 1827, and her devoted handler. The young giraffe was captured in Sudan and taken to Khartoum on the back of a camel. Transferred onto a boat, she was taken down the Nile to Alexandria then sailed across the Mediterranean in a boat with a hole in the deck to accommodate her height. She was then walked the 900km to Paris by Atir. The extraordinary travelling party drew crowds wherever they went. La Belle Africaine (as she was dubbed by the press) caused quite a sensation in Paris, inspiring writers, artists, hairstyles ('coiffure a la girafe' - where hair was propped high on the head to resemble two ossicones), giraffe-print fabrics and more. There was even a fashionable colour known as ‘belly of giraffe’. Zarafa lived in Paris for 18 years, under the constant and devoted eye of Atir.

Finally, am early 20th century Japanese silk embroidered picture depicting two seated dogs sold for £2,200 (plus buyer’s premium) against an estimate of £300-500; with a strong provenance, the work had been purchased from the Japan Exhibitors Association at the 1910 Japan British Exhibition.

The sale resulted in a total hammer price of £57,130 with 92% of the 287 lots sold.

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