Northern Art tops the lots

A rare camera found in a tumbledown Snowdonia cottage and a banjo spotted in a charity shop window by a Peter Wilson auctioneer may have stolen the headlines, but

The Ilford Witness camera and associated accessoriesThe rare 35mm Ilford Witness Rangefinder camera, which dated from about 1953, had been found by a Cheshire family during renovation of the cottage, once the home of a recluse who held his trousers up with a length of string.

Sold with a Dallmeyer Super-Six lens, its carry bag, instruction book, sky light filter, a collapsible tripod and a Paterson wet film developing tank, the camera sold for £7,600. It had been estimated at £2,000-3,000.

The rare Clifford Essex Paragon four-string tenor banjoThe equally rare Clifford Essex Paragon four-string tenor banjo – some say it’s the best instrument of its kind in the world – was sent for sale by staff at the Shelter charity shop in Beam Street, Nantwich, after Peter Wilson auctioneer Chris Large spotted it in the window on his way to work.

It sold to a local enthusiast for £2,300. Had it not been for Mr Large’s intervention, it would have been sold in the shop for £25.

Pierre Adolphe Valette Presbyterian Church, All Saints, with figires, oil on board £17,250Most valuable lot in the sale, however, proved to be from among a strong entry of Northern art, for which Peter Wilson is a leading source. Chosen as the cover of the auction catalogue, Manchester artist Pierre Adolphe Valette’s atmospheric “Presbyterian Church, All Saints, with figures” sold for £17,500.

Valette, who died in 1942, famously sold few of his works during his lifetime but the oil on board, 15.5 x 9cm, 6 x 3.5in, had been exhibited extensively, most recently at the exhibition at The Lowry, Adolphe Valette: A Pioneer of Impressionism in Manchester, in January, 2012.

By the same artist, “Gabriella in Pink”, the sitter reading a book while lying on a day bed in an interior, an oil on board, 19.5 x 36.5cm, 7.75 x 14.5in sold for £8,600, while in contrast, “Anglesey”, an oil on card signed, titled and dated 1915, with pencil head studies on the reverse, 22.5 x 14.5cm,
9 x 5.75in, sold on top estimate for £3,000.

Charles Spencelay Antiques oil on boardClose behind the top lot at £15,000 was one of three works by Charles Spencelayh (1865-1958) another sought after artist. “Antiques”, an oil on board, 24 x 16.5cm, 9.5 x 6.5in, showing an old man admiring a top hat in an interior, was signed, and titled on the artist’s label on the reverse. According to the label, the painting was sold originally for £42, sometime in the 1950s.

Two watercolours by the same artist: “The Treasured Yellow-Boy”, the gold coin referred to by the title held by a whiskered old man, and “The Penitent”, showing a man sitting in thought at a table, sold for £9,000 and £4,800 respectively

William Turner (1920-2013) another Manchester artist, was represented by a number of works, most valuable of which proved to be “Man with a Cart”, a signed oil on board, 54 x 70cm, 21.25 x 27.5in, which sold for £4,100.

Laurence Stephen Lowry Peel ParkAs the value paintings by L. S. Lowry (1887-1976) moves ever further out of the reach of all but the seriously rich, his signed prints continue to spiral in value.  Most expensive of five in the sale was “Peel Park”, published in 1975, which sold for £4,500, more than twice the guide price, followed by “Group of Children”, number 656 from an edition of 850 at £4,200 and “Man Holding Child”, £4,000.

Most affordable were “St. Simon’s Church”, signed and numbered 176/300 at £2,800 and “Landscape with Farm Buildings”, £2,700.

Not everyone is aware that the famous Howard Carter (1874-1939) the man who famously discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb, started his working life as an artist for archaeologist recording his finds in Egypt in 1891. In 1899, he was offered a position working for the Egyptian Antiquities Service and the sale included a watercolour of the Horus falcon, which was signed and dated 1901. It sold for £5,900.

Highlights elsewhere included, in Chinese ceramics, a pair of Qing dynasty famille rose fish bowls applied with auspicious objects, which sold for £4,500 and a pair of late Qing hardwood stands on which they could be displayed. They sold for £1,800.

In European ceramics, a rare documentary frog mug, circa 1830, made by the Liverpool Herculaneum factory to commemorate the Rainhill Trials held by the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, sold for £2,500 against an estimate of £800-1,200.

The mug was transfer printed with views of the Exchange Buildings and Nelson’s Monument and the legends “The Rocket of Messrs R. Stephenson and Co” and “The Northumbrian of Messrs R. Stephenson”, while the interior was printed with a portrait of Queen Adelaide and the “Novelty of Messrs Braithwaite and Ericsson” and “Carriages for Passengers”.

An unexpected gem among a small group of antique rugs and carpets was a Bakshaish carpet from northern Iran, which measured 10.5 by 9.5 inches (320 x 290cm) and sold for £3,300.

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