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£7k silver football trophy and £2k Behnes’ sketches among highlights at our Fine Art & Antique Auction

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silver football trophyStaffordshire auction house Cuttlestones saw two particularly spectacular prices achieved for lots in its Friday, 2nd December Fine Art Auction. The second oldest football league cup in the country – the Wednesbury Charity Football Cup – saw the hammer fall at £7,250 to a telephone bidder, whilst a sketch book attributed to the prolific Victorian sculptor Behnes achieved an impressive £2,200.

The silver trophy caused a real stir ahead of the sale, thanks to its place in the history of West Midlands’ football. First awarded in 1880 to now defunct team Stafford Road, the cup was won by some big names during its 111 year run – including Nottingham Forest, Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion. Its engravings also feature some less well-known winners, many of which have been lost to history – notably Birmingham Excelsior FC, which existed 1883-1888, and Singers FC in 1892 – a club that went on to become the somewhat better-known Coventry FC. The final club to take the trophy home was Cradley Town for the 1990-91 season.

Another thing that got bidders hot under the collar was the cup’s roots in philanthropy. The tournament was set up by a local industrial magnate who purchased the trophy with funds raised through public subscription, and all proceeds from ticket sales of tournament matches went to local charities and hospitals. The charity survived for over 100 years, continuing to raise funds for local causes. Despite the significant interest, the figure the cup achieved still came as something as a surprise – as Head Auctioneer and MD at Cuttlestones, Ben Gamble, explains:

“This cup is a fascinating piece of Black Country history, so we expected it to achieve a sum significantly greater than its intrinsic value, with the lot carrying an estimate of between £3,000 – £5,000. On the day, the bidders came out in force – including a local conglomerate group aiming to buy the cup for a museum, and a fair bidding war ensued between a representative of this group in the room and a bidder on the telephone. The telephone bidder won out in the end – it turns out they are a benefactor of the National Football Museum in Manchester, where the cup will be displayed, so it will remain in the public domain. Needless to say, the vendor is delighted as, no doubt, are the members and players of Wood Green Athletic FC which will benefit from a generous donation from the sale.”

While undoubtedly the most impressive sale of the auction, this was just one example from what proved a record-breaking day for Cuttlestones. The auction house’s largest single sale for 5 years, the catalogue featured a hugely diverse range of lots which attracted over 350 live online bidders from around the world alongside a strong turnout of bidders in the room, by commission and on the telephone lines.

The other standout lot came in the form of a sketch book of the prolific British artist and sculptor Willaim Behnes (1795 – 1864). Including a large number of studies of historical figures such as the Duke of Newcastle and Sir Thomas Gresham alongside landscape sketches, studies of monuments, caricatures and pen and ink drawings, it generated a great deal of interest, with bidding particularly strong among the local contingent. The hammer fell at £2,200 to a bidder in the room.

Elsewhere in the catalogue, a strong paintings section produced three particular highlights. Lot 606, a late 19C English School oil on canvas of two ladies holding a cockatoo, sold for £750. Lot 615; an oil on panel attributed to Petrus Von Schendel featuring Jesus at the table with two disciples, signed lower right, dated 1844 and presented in gilt frame fetched £1,100 – and Lot 739; a Sidney William Cooper watercolour of cattle watering in a river, signed and dated 1895, achieved £700.

The star of the jewellery section was Lot 160. A hallmarked 9ct gold snake necklace and bangle set, with the snake heads set with ruby eyes, it saw a flurry of commission, telephone and online bidders compete with the hammer eventually falling to an internet bidder at £750. Staying with precious metals, Lot 201, a large silver tray hallmarked for Sheffield 1927 by makers Hawksworth Eyre & Co Ltd and weighing in at approx 3,860g, fetched well over its scrap value when it sold for £1,300. Meanwhile, a decorative Austrian cold painted bronze in the style of Bergmann, featuring an Eastern man holding a rifle standing in front of a selection of weaponry on a throne type stand and impressed mark to the base ‘REAL VIENNA BRONZE’, achieved £1,200.

Decorative figures of a somewhat different style – in the form of a collection Lladro figures hailing from a private Wolverhampton estate split into some 33 lots – achieved a total of £2,000, whilst Lot 346: a rare large Doulton figure of a Moor in unusual green and pale blue colourway fetched £1,100. Following the exotic theme, an Oriental carved seated jadeite Buddha, together with a smaller figure – possibly depicting a bat eating fruit – achieved a somewhat surprising £1,400.

Completing the highlights in terms of ‘traditional’ antiques was Lot 532, a lovely ornate Florentine frame dating from the early 19C, which achieved £1,000 despite light scuffs and minor losses to the extremities of the frame.

The last word must, however, go to possibly the most unusual lot of the sale. Lot 449 – a disarmingly realistic, full-size reproduction crocodile originally used as a movie prop, got ‘snapped up’ for £300!

The full catalogue, including hammer prices for all lots, can be found at To discuss a valuation or consignment of an item for sale in one of Cuttlestones’ 2017 auctions, contact 01785 714905 or email [email protected]

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