Posted on: 23 September 2020

Spectacular Specimens take top prices in our September Auction

Trevanion and Dean’s September Fine Art & Antiques auction proved that there is no slowing down for the Whitchurch based auction house this year. Comprising over 800 lots, including a spectacular array of Grand Tour souvenirs from a Shropshire country estate, a large single-owner collection of jewellery and a selection of fine works of art, the success of the September auction suggests that the boom that the antiques market has been experiencing through the summer is set to continue throughout the autumn. Of the sale, Managing Director Christina Trevanion said “We continue to see the market performing strongly for fresh-to-the market pieces with good provenance, and this proved to be a winning combination at our last auction.”

A 19th century specimen table top SOLD £7500

Of the over 800 lots on offer at the auctioneers monthly fine art and antiques auction, some of the top lots came from a collection of art and antiquities from a historic estate in the Oswestry area. The collection was discovered in the attic and outbuildings of the main hall by Christina Trevanion and Ashley Jones during a visit to the estate “The attics and outbuildings were fascinating, in that they had not really been touched for decades” said Christina.

One of the most significant pieces from the collection was a dazzling 19th century specimen table top, inlaid with colourful hardstone and agate samples. “We discovered the table top tucked away in a stable, years of dust had hidden the beautiful colours, I remember wiping it down with a cloth and being astonished by the richness of the colours and patterns underneath – it was really quite breath-taking.’ 

Specimen tables became popular in the 18th century and are so named for the variety of specimens of which they are composed. They can be made of wood or hardstone, and display the different colours, patterns and characteristics of the specimens used. These tables were a typical ‘Grand Tour’ souvenir, exhibiting the geological specimens uncovered in the owner’s travels. The example in this month’s auction caught the eye of collectors across the UK, Europe and further afield.  With seven telephone bids, commission bids and two online bidding platforms available, bids came flying in from around the globe.  After a fierce bidding battle, the table finally sold to a French buyer for the impressive sum of £7500. 

Portrait of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn SOLD £6500

Another significant consignment from the same estate was an impressive 8 ½ ft tall portrait of Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, a 18th century Welsh landowner and prominent politician, painted by Swedish artist Michael Dahl, which sold to a Welsh collector for £6500. ‘Sir Watkin-Williams-Wynn is noted for introducing a bill to prevent bribery at elections, which passed into law in the early 18th century’ said auctioneer Ashley Jones. ‘The portrait, which was presumably commissioned by Williams-Wynn himself, commemorates this accomplishment, with the scroll in his right hand reading “An Act for the more effectual preventing Bribery and Corruption in the Election of Members to Serve in Parliament Brought in by Watkin Wm Wynn.” We knew this portrait was special, but upon researching it further we were surprised to discover a smaller, half-length version – possibly taken as a preparatory study – belonging to the National Portrait Gallery. You can imagine how thrilling it was to find out we had the sister piece in our saleroom!’ Other lots of note from the collection included a Swedish porphyry vase which sold to a French collector for £4400, and a coveted George II candle mahogany lantern which sold for £2800. 

Elsewhere in the sale, silver and jewellery continued to reach the record highs seen in the summer months, with an impressive 97% sale rate and achieving prices beyond pre-sale estimates. Of particular note was an enormous single-owner collection of jewellery and silver, which arrived at the saleroom in three large packing boxes. “We knew we had our work cut out for us when this consignment came into the saleroom!” said jewellery specialist Helena Waudby. “Each box was overflowing with jewellery – beaded necklaces, bracelets, earrings, brooches, you name it! At first glance, it appeared to simply be a collection of costume jewellery with little value, but after further inspection we spotted a few gems which hinted to the collections full potential. It took us five days to sort through the entire contents, and our diligence paid off as the collection included some really special pieces.” 

A 19th century citrine set riviere necklace SOLD £750

The vast collection contained a varied selection of pieces to suit every taste, from delicate Georgian period gems to fine examples of mid-century Scandinavian design. Highlights included a 19th century citrine set riviere necklace which sold for £750, a Victorian ‘prospectors’ golden nugget brooch which achieved £460, and a Georgian mourning brooch which sold for £420. “All-in-all the collection made just under £20,000. It just goes to show, you can never be too cautious, and value can be found anywhere. If you’re having a clear out and have the slightest inkling that you may have something of value, get down to the saleroom – you might be pleasantly surprised!”

There were also strong results in the fine art section of the sale, most notably works from the mid-20th century. Of note was a limited edition print by Welsh artist John ‘Kyffin’ Williams which sold for £620 while an oil painting by David Wilde took £440. Reflecting on the successes of the day, valuer Simon Grover said ‘the strong results we were achieving for 18th century ‘Grand Tour’ art were mirrored by great results for 20th century works. The art market continues to be diverse and exciting across all periods, and I anticipate that this will continue to be the case in the coming autumn months.”

Trevanion and Dean’s next Fine Art & Antiques Auction will be held on Saturday 24th October. Deadline for consignments into this sale Wednesday 7th October. If you have items that you’re considering consigning, call 01948800202 or email