Despite being just 3.5cm wide, a tiny button in the shape of a rat has sold for a staggering £28,500 at Cotswolds auctioneers Moore Allen & Innocent. The 19th Century netsuke stunned auctioneers at Moore Allen & Innocent in Cirencester by selling for more than 140 times its estimate of £200 to £300.
Netsuke are miniature sculptures affixed to the end of a cord on a kimono. Because kimonos had no pockets, objects like pipes, money or medicine were kept in small pouches or baskets attached to the cord – much like a utility belt today. Netsuke were made in a range of materials, including amber, ivory, coral, nut, bone, and wood.
Auctioneer Philip Allwood said, “The competition was between two UK-based Oriental buyers on the phone lines. We were very surprised by the hammer price, which is one of the highest paid for a netsuke in recent years.”
Taking place earlier this month, the selected antiques sale was dominated by Oriental antiques. A pair of 19th Century Chinese cloisonné bowls decorated with script medallions and bats amongst clouds, standing at 17cm tall and measuring 33cm in diameter, achieved the second highest lot price of the day, selling for £13,400. Auctioneers had given bidders a cautious guide price of £300 to £500, due to signs of repair, and general wear and tear.
And the subsequent Lot – a matching bowl in slightly different form with the same bats amongst clouds decoration, standing at 13.5cm tall and measuring 58cm across – achieved £12,500 against an estimate of £200 to £300.
From the old to the modern, a large collection of contemporary gentlemen’s’ jewellery collectively achieved £45,000.
Among the 80 lots of rings, cufflinks, and watches from brands like Rolex, Tag Heuer, Patek Phillippe, and Omega were an 18ct carat rose gold cased Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day Date Superlative Chronometer and bracelet gentleman’s wristwatch, which achieved £7,500 against an estimate of £4,000 to £6,000, a steel and gold cased Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Submariner Superlative Chronometer gentleman’s wristwatch, which sold for £4,500 against a £2,000 to £3,000 estimate, and an 18ct gold cased Patek Philippe Calatrava gentleman’s wristwatch, which made £4,400 against an estimate of £3,000 to £4,000.
Elsewhere in the auction, an early Victorian mahogany rectangular extending dining table on three quadruped pedestals and paw feet achieved £6,000 against an estimate of £1,000 to £1,500.
And a mid 18th Century needlework sampler by Elizabeth Young, dated August 22nd 1768, aged 10 years, featuring upper case and lower case alphabet, numerals, two figures named “Thomas and Mary Young”, flowers, butterflies, and birds achieved £4,800 against the expected £200 to £300, while 19th Century lacework study of a gentleman, probably depicting The Duke of Wellington, achieved £4,800 against a modest estimate of £50 to £80.
The sale total of £303,000 was the highest since the auction house sold an undiscovered Rembrandt for £2.2 million back in 2007.