Bidders bowled over by Chinese ornaments

A PAIR of Chinese enamel on copper bowls were the surprise hit at an antiques auction in the Cotswolds last month.

Decorated with five-toed dragons to the exterior and bats amongst clouds to the interior, the two bowls were offered for sale as part of an assorted lot together with a Shelley dripware jug and an Art Deco pottery clock case with an estimate of £30 to £50.

But determined bidding on the internet saw the hammer price shoot into the thousands.

"The bidding had reached around £100 in the room," said Philip Allwood of Moore Allen & Innocent, which offered the bowls in its antique and general sale on Friday, January 12.

"Suddenly, there was a live bid on the internet of £2,000, and it kept climbing from there."

The hammer eventually fell at £3,200.

The bowls, which were slightly dented and scuffed but otherwise in good condition, were sold to a bidder in the UK.

The first auction of the new year proved to be to full of pleasant surprises for the auctioneers.

A handsome late Regency mahogany secretaire bookcase cabinet in the Gillows manner, which was making its third appearance at the saleroom, exceeded its £350 to £450 estimate to sell for £980.

And the oldest artefacts in the sale – a collection of neolithic flint arrowheads – exceeded their £80 to £120 estimate to sell for £700 to a collector of ancient relics.

The 12 leaf-shaped arrowheads and 15 barbed and tanged arrowheads were uncovered by the eminent Victorian archaeologist Rev John MacEwan in the late 1800s.

Today, many of his finds are exhibited at the National Museum of Scotland.

From the very old to the relatively recent, there were also some good results for modern furniture.

A mid 20th century Danish rosewood desk by J Svenstrup for A P Mobler achieved £360 while an atomic age-style chromophare operating room lamp on posable stand by Hüper & Schmidt achieved £300.

Elsewhere in the sale, 15 numbered red velvet covered theatre seats on Victorian wrought iron frames, originally from the New Theatre in Oxford, and sold in three lots of three and three lots of two, collectively made £495.

And a speculative lot attracted interest from fans of the work of William Burgess, the architect behind the remodelling of Cardiff Castle in 1866.

A small stained and painted beech corner cabinet bore a striking resemblance to the famous interior decoration of the castle, and had come to the vendor by a relation, whose surname was Burgess.

Although the connection could not be verified, bidders were tempted to exceed the £100 to £150 estimate, with the modest piece achieving a hammer price of £300.

The next sale at Moore Allen & Innocent is the sporting sale on February 2, while the biannual textiles sale will be held over two days on February 22 and 23.

Full details are available at