Wainscot chair defies expectation at auction

A WAINSCOT chair defied all expectations at a Cotswolds auction, selling for twenty times its lower estimate.

At the Moore Allen & Innocent antiques auction in Cirencester on Friday, March 31 a bidder paid £980 for the chair, decorated with shaped swan neck pediment and diamond carved panelled back.

Auctioneers had modest expectations for the chair, which they had bundled with a Victorian mahogany chair and a nest of three walnut coffee tables. A bid of £50 to £80 had been expected for the lot.

Writing in the auction catalogue, valuer Philip Allwood said: “Chair is very rickety and all the joints probably need attention. Various marks, scratches, scuffs, etc throughout.”

The hammer price earned the chair the accolade of top price of the day. But that didn’t stop the buyer, who then went on to bid £550 for a second wainscot chair, an early example with 18th century elements. The lot carried an estimate of £60 to £80.

Wainscot chairs were common in the early 17th century in England and colonial America. They lack any upholstery, and the flat wooden seat and back – which is often decoratively carved – can make them quite uncomfortable to sit on.

For an altogether more modern and comfortable look and feel, a pair of white three seater sofas by Oka fitted the bill. Auctioneers were looking for bids of between £300 and £500, and got £460.

Furniture retailer Oka was founded in 1999 by Viscountess Astor, mother of Samantha Cameron, with two partners. New, their three seater sofas retail at £2,500 upwards.

And staying with modern British design classics, a light elm dining table by Ercol with four stick back elm seated Ercol chairs achieved a winning bid of £500.

Founded in 1920, Ercol made a name for itself in 1944 when, having won a contract from the Board of Trade to produce 100,000 low-cost Windsor chairs, the company perfected a method of steam bending English elm - a wood previously thought impossible to bend.

Ercol furniture was exhibited at the 1951 Festival of Britain, as it represented the latest style and fashion in furniture design and manufacture.

Finally, a bronze of a frog riding a hare with reins rose a few smiles at the auction – and a winning bid of £400, which was bang on the estimate.

The modern bronze measured 64cms in length by 38cms in height.

Lepus europaeus has been an emblem of Cirencester ever since a 4th century Roman hare mosaic was unearthed by archaeologists in 1971.

The town’s biennial hare sculpture trail attracts hundreds of visitors and raises thousands of pounds for charity.

For a full auction catalogue, log on to mooreallen.co.uk