Outstanding iron model of a Star Hawk in our pick of six auction highlights sold this week


Iron jizai okimono from a hawk – £ 42,000 at Woolley & Wallis.

1. Iron jizai okimono from a hawk – £ 42,000

This iron model of a falcon is a vivid example of an okimono jizai – realistic, articulate animal figures popular in the later decades of the Edo period and Meiji Japan. Many were made by gunsmiths and sword makers whose main customers had disappeared with the abolition of the samurai class in 1876.

Woolley & Wallis have offered a number of good examples in recent years, including an okimono jizai of a dragon fish (£ 12,000 in 2019) and an unusually large snake signed Myochin (£ 40,000 in 2020).

There are only a small number of registered iron hinged falcons. This 23cm tall raptor, sold in Salisbury on July 27 for £ 42,000 (estimate £ 25,000-30,000), is constructed from numerous hammered iron plates which allow such items as the head and wings to move. The eyes are encrusted with gilding with black pupils, the beak worked in shibuichi while under the feathers of the wings are hidden figures.

It came from the collection of the late Hubert René Joseph Georges Faure (1919-2020) whose first wife Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ de Cuevas was a great-granddaughter of John D Rockefeller.

A similar jizai okimono bird of prey by Myochin Kiyoharu is on display at the Tokyo National Museum while Bonhams sold a spectacular 41cm copy – the “Falcon Adjustable Iron Statue” which won a silver medal at the exhibition Spring 1894 from the Japan Art Association – for £ 95,000 in May 2013.

2. Medicine bottle for ‘Friar’s Drops’ – £ 2,600

Robert Grubb's Friar's Drops Medication Bottle

Robert Grubb’s Friar’s Drops Medicine Bottle – £ 2,600 at Duke’s Avenue.

Unexpected auctions arrived at the Duke’s Avenue auction house in Dorchester on July 20 for a small vial of the listed drug Friar’s Drops, by the King’s patent granted to R Grubb 1777.

It was in a “hollowed out” state still retaining accretions inside and out.

According to advertisements at the time, Robert Grubb’s patented drug, Friar’s Drops, was promoted in particular for its ability to cure venereal disease as well as “scurvy, rheumatism, stranguary and gleets”. The ingredients mentioned in the original patent were listed as’ aquilia alba (or white eagle), purifying antimony, guaiac wood, balsam of Peru, cicuta extracts, white candy sugar, sassafras oil, salt of tartar, gum arabic and rectified wine spirits ”.

Another such bottle, dated c. 1777-1800, is in the collection of the Museum of London but appears to be very rare. Collectors of old medicine bottles (there are a surprisingly large number of them) have targeted this example estimated at £ 50 to £ 100, but rushed to fetch £ 2,600.

This is the kind of price reserved for rarities, although some patented drugs from this period did more: in 2016, BBR Auctions in Elsecar, North Yorkshire, set a record for an empty English medicine bottle when a Victorian bottle of “Dr Sibley’s Solar Tincture” cost £ 8,200.

3. Ewenny Pottery Wassail Bowl – £ 15,000

Ewenny pottery wassail bowl

Ewenny Pottery Wassail Bowl – £ 15,000 at Rogers Jones.

The Welsh sale at Rogers Jones in Cardiff on July 24 included, valued at £ 3,000 to £ 5,000, this rare Ewenny pottery bowl and lid. The sgraffito decoration of characters and animals is accompanied by the inscriptions WIM Clay Pits 1833 and William James Tonyrevil January 12, 1832. It came from the collection of Gwyneth and the late Ieuan R Evans, authors of Ewenny – Pottery, Potters and Pots. After a lot of competition it was sold for £ 15,000.

Wassail bowls such as this, measuring 15 inches (39 cm) high, were among the larger pieces made in Ewenny Pottery and were used at community events and normally made for the entire village. William James in this case was probably the donor of the bowl rather than a custodian or owner.

In the South Wales News from April 30, 1892, a report refers to William Williams, a Claypits potter who made wassail bowls in the 1820s for parishes at the cost of one guinea each.

4. FA International Debut Medal – £ 10,200

Tom Grosvenor Football Medal

First FA International Medal awarded to Tom Grosvenor – £ 10,200 to Fieldings.

For a time in the 1930s, players making their debut for England were given the option, through the Football Association, to receive a commemorative gold medal instead of their normal match fees.

An FA International Debut Medal awarded to Tom Grosvenor was sold for £ 10,200 at Fieldings in Stourbridge on July 21-23 as part of a lot that also included various other items related to his career, estimated at between 4,000 and £ 6,000.

Grosvenor, of Birmingham City, made that first appearance for the England v Ireland game played at Deepdale, Preston on October 4, 1933.

In 14 karat gold, it is inscribed The Football Association, FA International, and to the edge 1933-34, T. Grosvenor.

He was offered with a 9ct Football League medal relating to the same match, Grosvenor’s three English caps and his number eight English football shirt, as well as other ephemeral documents such as photographs, menus and clippings from hurry.

Grosvenor was born in Netherton and played for Stourbridge (where Fieldings is based) and then Birmingham City. He was sold in Sheffield on Wednesday in 1936 for £ 2,500 and ended his professional career playing for Bolton Wanderers.

In his three appearances for England in 1933, he scored twice.

5. Elizabethan Wool Merchant’s Estate Book – £ 11,000

Elizabethan manuscript

Elizabethan Manuscript Succession Book by Thomas Cony of Bassingthorpe, Lincolnshire – £ 11,000 at Tennants.

This Elizabethan manuscript inheritance book by Thomas Cony of Bassingthorpe, Lincolnshire, circa 1564-1608 was first offered for sale since the 17th century at Tennants of Leyburn on July 28. The estimate was £ 2,000 to £ 3,000, but he brought in £ 11,000.

This historical document revealing the domestic and commercial transactions of a powerful member of the English merchant class retains its original golden Moroccan binding in the Venetian style with the lettering ‘The Booke Of Estat’. It was first brought to public attention by the famous antiquarian Edmond Turnor (1754-1829), who published a selection of passages and an introduction to the acts of the Society of Antiquaries in 1794.

Turnor writes: ‘The book, contains, mainly, notes of cattle belonging to … Thomas Cony; inventories of his household items and his plate in Bassingthorpe; its profits and losses in trade, etc. and the amount of his income and expenses for 54 years … He was the son of Richard Cony of Bassingthorpe, Esq. Agrafe merchant of Calais, died in 1545, of which he inherited a considerable property.

In 1573 he was Grand Sheriff of Rutland … [His] the line of commerce, by which this great fortune was raised, was extremely lucrative. The Staple merchants had almost a monopoly on all exported wool; nor the adventurous merchants [of whom Cony was also a member], who also trade in wool, a less respectable company ”.

6. George III vermeil liberty box – £ 6,000

George III vermeil liberty box

George III vermeil liberty box by Carden Terry & Jane Williams, Cork – £ 6,000 at Bonhams.

Bonhams’ Silver & Vertu sale on July 28 included a number of Irish provincial coins from the Peter Ticher collection. It included many pieces he had inherited from his father, Dr Kurt Ticher who, emigrated from Germany to Ireland in the 1920s, developed a keen interest in Irish Georgian silverware, constituting a vast and important collection, including some bequeathed to the National Museum of Ireland.

Peter, his eldest son, continued to enrich his collection throughout his life.

Estimated between £ 7,000 and £ 9,000, but sold for a little under-expectations at £ 6,000, this George III vermeil liberty box from Carden Terry & Jane Williams, Cork. Dated 1798, it is engraved with the arms of Cork City and is inscribed for Major-General William Loftus (1752-1831), a British Army officer and later Member of Parliament.

A veteran of the American Revolutionary War, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief at Munster in 1798 and took command of the Laughlinstown camp during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. It is sold with a parchment relating to the freedom of the town of Cork, inscribed with Major Loftus and dated ’12th day of September 1809′.


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