May Hammer Highlights

The last three auctions have consistently been 90% sold on the day. This May was no exception and 92% of lots found new homes. Mixed sales of Art and Antiques continue to be a popular hunting ground for keyboard warriors…the rise of internet bidding ensuring as wide an audience as possible, while also ensuring an effective, friendly local service.

One of Switzerland’s finest watchmakers, exceptional condition and it’s easy ready to wear style ensured that Lot 111, a fine Brietling Transoceanic chronometer watch sold well above its estimate at £1450 (including Buyers Premium). This was a simple steel cased gentleman’s watch with clean lines and above all an excellent highly accurate chronograph movement. Collectors have driven watches prices substantially in the past two years and famous names such as Rolex, Patek Phillipe and Brietling remains the stars of the show. Interest both locally and online ensured this solid example sold easily on the day.

Another ocean going lot, number 233, a pair of Maritime shipping portraits proved an interesting find for this months sale. Antonio Jacobsen is considered one of America’s best turn of the 19th century marine artists. ‘The Audubon of Marine Art’ he was a prolific painter of a wide variety of sail and steam powered vessels. Of the two ships in this lot, The Charles H Marshall was of particular note. This steam packet was named after a famous philanthropist and businessman from the New York Gilded Age. He was apparently on board the RMS Carpathia when it came to the aid of his three nieces who had to their misfortune boarded Titanic on its ill fated maiden voyage. Despite very poor condition of both canvases, which will both require significant professional restoration the lot sold for just over £1000.

Samuel Bough is a well known and regular presence in Scottish Art sales. While many buyers are looking to the 20th and 21st century to decorate their walls, there is still demand for the simplicity and beauty of a Victorian landscape and Sam Bough captures the charm and peace of the farming landscape perfectly in lot 227. A simple landscape with a plough hard at work in the back ground. Easy on the eye the oil sold within estimate at just under £600 (including premium).

May’s sale was a broad mix of silver, ceramics, collectables and furniture, with lots ranging from £20 upwards. Some lovely antique furniture, including an impressive pair of Jacobean revival wainscot chairs found new homes. If you are looking to re-locate, downsize or just wishing to sell the odd lot, do contact the saleroom for a quotation.

Angus’ Highlights | May 2022

An auction highlight includes Lot 233, a pair of maritime oil paintings by Antonio Jacobsen (American, 1850 – 1921), sometimes known as the Audubon of maritime American art, the canvas of The Charles H Marshall is signed and dated A Jacobsen 1918. The ship is named after a prominent American ‘Gilded Age’ businessmen and philanthropist. He was on board the RMS Carpathia when it came to the rescue of RMS Titanic, on which three of his nieces were on board.  The Governor Goodwin was a three masted sailing ship, the canvas is signed and dated Antonio Jacobsen, 1916, in the distance a large passenger liner of the White Star Line period.

Gods, Goddesses and a multitude of other interesting characters appear in our Spring auction. Gracefully surrounding a wonderful Classical frieze Apollo, Mercury, Venus and Aphrodite and other well known Greek deities compete for our attention. Lot 114 may have a high aesthetic appeal…but it has a rather more mundane and practical purpose, a place to keep the Chocolate Ginger Biscuits! Such treasure and available for as little as £80.

The joy of a local auction is such wonderful artworks and useful household objects can be found for generally very competitive prices. A lovely example to grace any household table is lot 128, A fine Sunderland Lustre bowl, made by Dixon & Co, and wonderfully decorated with transfer printed vignettes depicting a fine ship, The HMS Northumberland, and ‘The Mariners Compass’ amongst other maritime imagery. The bowl has a well patinated pink lustre and priced at £60-80 should sail away to a new home.

‘There be Dragons’….and this month Chinese Dragons fit for an Emperor. Traditionally decorated wares with five clawed beasts was reserved for the Imperial court. Lot 113 includes a very fine example of late Qing Dynasty cinnabar lacquer. The Chinese art of lacquering carved wood in this fashion has existed for centuries. The lot includes a lovely pair of covered baluster jars, and they are highly decorated with Dragons parading proudly around the body of each piece. The layers of lacquer on these ware can sometimes take as many as 300 coats to complete! Clearly made for export, probably in the very early 20th century, these also include a matching pair of ash trays and a small cigarette box. All in excellent condition and hopefully they will appeal to an International audience.

Furniture this month is a useful mix of both garden and household seating, a personal favourite being lot 286. A pair of his and hers Windsor armchairs, circa 1900. The design is a little unusual, with very slender spreading spindles, and while generally following a Victorian style appear to have arrived from further afield. The high backs and simplicity of design suggest these may be American in origin. The valuer looks forward to hearing others opinion on these unusual seats.

Soon we will be beginning the months of Summer Weddings…so if you are planning a quick engagement, we can recommend Lot 115. An excellent traditional diamond solitaire engagement ring. The central brilliant cut round diamond weighs over one carat and has a lovely clear and bright stone. Set in platinum it makes the perfect statement of intent.

The sale as always is available both online and Live in the auction room. Bidders can bid online now, leave commission bids with the auction room, or where appropriate book a telephone to bid live on the day.


‘Tinkering on the Ivories’

It has involved many years of discussion, media hype, argument, and trade consultation, and now it is important that clients, auction houses, and dealers make themselves aware of the new Ivory regulations.

From the 6th June 2022 it will be an offence in the United Kingdom to sell or deal in Ivory. The consultation run by DEFRA over several months allowed some flexibility for the art and antiques market, however the new rules are to be regulated very strictly and auction rooms, dealers, collectors, and individuals need to take care to ensure the law is not broken.

The penalties for dealing in Ivory are eye watering, with a maximum fine of £250,000 or up to 5 years in jail. We also expect authorities to be looking for test cases and examples to highlight in the media.

It will be illegal to sell any object containing elephant ivory (from the animal’s tusks). Also consider that some marine ivory, such as Narwhal Tusks are already controlled by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).  The rules for these and other endangered species are not covered in this article.

There are a small number of exceptions that allow certain Ivory artworks and objects to still be traded. However, to be exempt they will need to register the sale with a new online service run by DEFRA.

Browns can assess and make such applications on your behalf.

The Standard Exemptions are for:

  • Musical instruments made before 1975 with less that 20% ivory by volume.
  • Items made before 3 March 1947 with less than 10% ivory by volume

This might include for example silver teapots with ivory heat dividers on the handle or ivory inlaid furniture.

  • Portrait miniatures made before 1918 with a surface area smaller than 320 square centimetres

 Many important and quality miniatures are painted on thin panels of ivory.

  • Items that a qualifying museum intends to buy or hire

Special Exemptions:

There is a further exemption for a pre-1918 item that is of outstandingly high artistic, cultural or historical value.

This requires a more complex application and is judged by a panel made up of experts from assorted UK museums and institutions, including The National Museum of Scotland.

This final exemption is for those exceptionally rare and extraordinary objects that would be considered of cultural or historic importance. It is hard to know at this early stage how this will be judged and many objects that might be considered as important may fail the tests. An appeal system is in place to assist with occasional disagreements.


The fee to apply for a standard exemption with DEFRA will be £20 per item, or £50 for a group of objects if sold to the same buyer (20 maximum)

The ‘Cultural/Historic Object’ exemption is subject to a £250 fee per item.

Browns reserve the right to charge a processing fee, agreed in advance.

Any export requirement will still need to be obtained separately and vary from country to country.

Finally, it is important to note that EVERY sale of an individual object with require registration on each occasion it is offered for sale. It is not clear yet how that might affect re-offers of unsold lots. Such issues will hopefully become a little easier to follow once the new regulations are up and running.

Browns will update this article and the new regulations ‘bed in’ over the coming months.  If you have items of ivory you are looking to see, please feel free to get in touch to discuss with one of our team.

01835 863445 | info@brownsasr.co.uk