Posted on: 30 July 2021

Icons of the 20th Century: July 2021 Highlights

Trevanion Auctioneers rounded off their Spring-Summer season with a successful July Fine Art & Antiques auction. This month’s auction, the first since government restrictions were lifted on 19th July, was also the first to invite bidders back into the room since March 2020. Christina Trevanion, Managing Partner at the firm of auctioneers said ‘It was wonderful to see people back in our historic saleroom here in Station Road, Whitchurch, bidders are the beating heart of an auction day and so it was lovely to have customers in attendance again.’

Heals Arts & Crafts Linen Press: sold for £2200

Comprising over 850 lots, the July auction showcased a specialist collection of furniture, ceramics and works of art from the 20th century – one of the fastest growing areas of collecting in the modern antiques market. ‘The 20th century encompasses a broad and varied range of art and design movements,’ says specialist Simon Grover. ‘From the fluid, naturalistic forms of Art Nouveau, through to the clean lines of Mid-Century Modern and the bold pops of colour and new materials of the 1960’s and 70’s; 20th century art and design has never been more desirable, with healthy demand across all levels of the market.’

The sale encompassed all the key 20th century movements, from Arts & Crafts and Art Deco up to the 1980s.  The strong prices achieved give a flavour of the surging interest in these movements, with an Arts & Crafts Heals linen press making £2200, an Art Deco desk making £850, and a 1980s mannequin made for the iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel by Nigel Coates making £600.  Studio pottery was another strong seller in the 20th century section, with a small vase by Bernard Leach, probably Britain’s most famous potter, making £800, and a large bowl by renowned potter Alan Caiger-Smith making £650.

Other highlights of the sale included vintage luggage, with a Louis Vuitton trunk making £3400, and another trunk reputed to belong to Marilyn Monroe achieving £1600.  The trunk was originally given to British actor Richard Wattis by Marilyn when they worked together on The Prince and The Showgirl in 1957.  It then passed among Wattis’s friends before arriving with the vendors and being sold in aid of the Mario Lanza Education Foundation.

Marilyn Monroe’ Travelling Trunk: sold for £1600

There was further success in the jewellery and watches section, where an impressive Art Deco sapphire and diamond ring took the top hammer price of the day at £9000. The 5.5 carat sapphire was notable for its rich, royal blue hue and its classic design which caught the eye of bidders across the UK and Europe. “This ring was quintessentially Art Deco, which always appeals to our buyers,” says jewellery specialist Helena Waudby. “The clean lines and masterful construction of jewels from this period compliments every style, thus it’s enduring appeal and value. More importantly, Art Deco jewels are notable for their use of colour; in this period, emerald cut and baguette cut stones were all the rage, lending themselves to the angular designs of the 20’s and 30’s. The shape and angles of the facets in these cuts don’t produce the same sparkle and fire as round cut or old cut stones, but they are excellent for displaying colour. The deep green of emeralds, rich reds of rubies and the brilliant blues of sapphires are exemplified by these cuts. You can see in this particular example that the lapidary wanted to show off the stones spectacular colour and has done so to fantastic effect!”

Art Deco Sapphire & Diamond Ring: sold for £9000

Other results of note came from a diamond five-stone ring which sold for £2000, a Cartier 18ct gold diamond set wristwatch which sold for £3400 and aquamarine and diamond cluster which took £1400. “This auction has shown us that our buyers are wanting top quality, classic pieces i.e. three and five-stone rings, clusters, gold chains and pieces with clean, stripped back designs – pieces that are timeless and won’t go out of style are what our savvy buyers are investing in.”

Looking ahead to the Autumn, Auctioneer and Valuer Ashley Jones sees no signs of slowing down for the team at Trevanion. “Our September Fine Art Auction will lead us into our Autumn season, and I foresee a continuous demand for items of both decorative and academic merit. With our auctions including a diverse array of items spanning from furniture, art and jewellery. Our ongoing support from our trusted buyers and our global audience will ensure that our results will be buoyant as ever.”