Royal Christmas cards at summer auction

While July might seem like a strange time to be thinking about Christmas cards, with 60 years’ worth of festive greetings from The Queen going under the hammer in the Cotswolds, it’s hard to avoid.

The large collection of cards was amassed by Air Vice-Marshal Sir Edward Fielden and his family. Many are  in their original state, although many more have been cut, framed and mounted –  very decorative, but not what collectors demand.

The majority of the cards – which will be sold at Moore Allen & Innocent’s Selected Antiques Sale in Cirencester on Friday, July 17 – feature The Queen, Prince Philip and their growing family from the 1950s to the present day, in casual settings or on state occasions.

On one Christmas card it is hard to spot The Queen at all, although she is presumably on board HMS Britannia as it passes through Sydney Harbour, an aerial view of which graces the 1970 memento. The cards are expected to achieve between £50 and £100 each, with some of the older ones carrying estimates of £200 to £300 apiece.

Christmas cards from The QueenThe Fielden collection also features circa 1968 signed portrait photographs of The Queen and Prince Philip (estimate £300 to £500 for the pair), and another of Princess Margaret, taken and signed by the famous British fashion photographer Cecil Beaton, as well as by the subject, in 1956 (estimate £300 to £500).

Also within the collection is a copy of A King’s Story, The memoirs of HRH the Duke of Windsor, which is signed by the former Edward VIII and dedicated to ‘Mouse’, Sir Edward Fielden’s nickname, due to his discretion and self-effacement whilst acting as Captain of the King’s Flight and personal pilot to King Edward and his successor, George VI.

The lot is expected to achieve £300 to £500, and although it carries a personal attribution, it’s not a first edition, although there’s good news for anyone who wants one – a first edition is included in the sale. Limited to 250 copies and signed by Edward, it’s expected to achieve £800 to £1,200.

An antique rosewood table by Gillow of LancasterThe royal connections continue in the furniture section, where a small circular rosewood table by furniture manufacturer Gillow of Lancaster is expected to achieve £5,000 to £8,000.

The alabaster-topped table features in a portrait of Lady Maria Jane Ponsonby, whose family is connected to the royal lineage through the Spencers, by Johannes Notz in 1839. Although it does not carry a makers’ label, the table has been authenticated by the curator of the Gillow Museum.

More members of the local aristocracy feature in a pair of portraits in the manner of Sir Godfrey Kneller, the leading portrait painter in England during the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

The portrait of Andrew Barker has him standing in front of his grand new House at Fairford Park, which he had built in 1661. The second portrait – in matching frame – features Barker’s granddaughter Esther Lambe.
The house was demolished in the 1950s, and is now the site of the town’s comprehensive school. The paintings are expected to achieve between £5,000 and £8,000 for the pair.

Ming dynasty earthenware models of funerary sedan bearersPre-dating Fairford Park by some 100 years is a set of Ming dynasty earthenware models of funerary sedan bearers. The six sedan bearers and the litter itself were designed to have been buried with a Chinese noble, presumably to carry him in style to the afterlife. At £3,000 to £5,000 they are expected to appeal to Chinese buyers, as is a 19th Century rhino horn, intricately carved with bats and flowers, which could achieve £5,000 to £8,000.

Sadly for rhinos, their horns are highly prized across Asia as fertility symbols, or as medicines after being ground to a powder. So attractive are they to thieves, that Moore Allen’s example is being stored off-site until the day of the sale.

Also in the sale is a circa 1900 cold plated bronze of a hare by Franz Bergman of Vienna is likely to achieve between £4,000 and £8,000. A small collection of Bergman foundry bronzes also includes a woodcock and a a grey legged partridge (£2,000 to £3,000 apiece), along with a smaller kingfisher and otter (£200 to £300 each).

Damien Hirst signed bookKnown for his practise of pickling animals – including a cow, a zebra and a tiger shark – in formaldehyde, Cotswolds-based artist Damien Hirst also has a number of books to his name. A copy of I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now (first published in 1997) was sent to the vendor, unsolicited, after he told the artist he’d lost his copy in a house fire.

Inside the book, Hirst wrote “For Michael, So sorry to hear about your loss! Keep Smiling xxx” His signature is accompanied by a sketch of his trademark shark, a butterfly, and a skull, a nod to his diamond-encrusted human skull entitled For the Love of God. The book is expected to achieve £2,000 to £3,000.

A second book, being sold on behalf of Carers Gloucestershire, was donated to the charity by Hirst. The first edition copy of For the Love of God: The Making of the Diamond Skull (2007) is signed with skull and butterfly sketches, and should achieve £500 to £800.

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