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Specialist armour and military sale a booming success with £8k cannon

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Saturday 28th March saw the Cuttlestones team travel down to Warwickshire to stage the much anticipated Specialist Armour and Military auction of a single, private collection held at Stratford Armouries Museum. Given the wealth of rare and interesting items up for grabs as a result of the Museum’s change of direction – to re-focus its efforts on telling the stories of the English Civil War, WWI and WWII through its significant collections relating to these conflicts – the resulting sale did not disappoint. 
Bidders from every corner of the globe came out in force to grab some of the weird and wonderful items on offer. The significant interest generated amongst the international collecting community, the press, and from those in attendance on the day and over the four day viewing period, saw the combined total of the sale’s 620 lots reach a staggering £432,000*. And, with several parties registering an interest in the small number of unsold lots, this figure could reach even higher over the course of the next few weeks.
Thanks to the high number of bidders registering via telephone and the internet, as well as those who made the trip to be there in person, there were strong performances across a hugely diverse catalogue that included – alongside suits of armour, helmets and weaponry representing different periods throughout history – art, furniture, items of heavy artillery, taxidermy and lots relating to both Shakespeare and Lawrence of Arabia, with the Shakespeare interest and hand combat sections performing particularly well.
Reflecting the strong interest in Shakespeare themed lots was 108: A CARVED OAK GOBLET AND COVER, with an inscription to the base bearing: 'Shakespeare's Mulberry Wood from New Place 1867'. Guided at £600-100 and having carved floral and leaf decoration to the goblet, and raised on a carved turned support and rounded base, it went on to smash its estimate with a hammer price of £1,920. Similarly, lot 119: A SNUFF BOX MADE FROM THE WOOD OF THE MULBERRY TREE PLANTED BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE; also caused a stir amongst the bidding contingent on the day – going on to sell for £2,640. Completing the theme, lot 122: A MULBERRY WOOD JAR AND COVER, with carved vine leaf decoration to the lid and grape finial, the main body of the jar carved with vines and leaves, inscribed to the base 'Shakespears Mulberry Wood', H 18 cm, together with a painted wood panel reading 'Thos Sharpe of Stratford circa 1780 presenting a Mulberry wood goblet to the spirit of Shakespeare', L 158 cm and an oak framed print depicting a 'Shakespeare mulberry goblet' (3); also did very well, coming in at the lower end of its guide at £2,400.
Away from the Bard, the best seller on the day was lot 499: A WONDERFUL AND RARE 16TH CENTURY CARVED OAK FIGURE depicting a man in Maximilian armour. With a number of telephone lines registered against the figure in the days prior to sale, anticipation was high, and it was no surprise to see the hammer eventually fall at an incredible £10,800 – way off the guide price of £4000-6000. No sooner had the room recovered from this peak, however, and tensions were ramped up again with lot 546: A RARE 19TH CENTURY CHINESE BRONZE CANNON DATED 1862 MOUNTED ON A FIXED WOODEN CARRIAGE. With strong phone and internet interest, the winning bid came in at the bottom end of the guide price at £9,600.
Also up for grabs were a number of country sports and rare taxidermy items – a more common sight at the quarterly Specialist Collectors’ sales held at Cuttlestones’ Wolverhampton Salerooms. Of particular note were lots 40: A LATE 19TH CENTURY DECORATIVE TAXIDERMY STUDY OF A WILD BOAR'S HEAD INSET WITHIN A HUNTING HORN; and 42: A 20TH CENTURY TAXIDERMY STUDY OF 'THE WHITE DODO OF REUNION'; which both went on to achieve an impressive £576. Not to be outdone, however, lot 81 offered buyers the chance to purchase a rare piece of English country sports history in the form of: A 'C. FARLOW & CO. LTD' MAHOGANY FISHING TACKLE CABINET; which was believed to have been made bespoke for Farlow & Co. Ltd. retail premises on The Strand. Guided at £1000-2000, the cabinet went on to achieve just over this with a winning bid of £2,760. 
Elsewhere, the hand combat section threw up a number of good sellers, including lot 179: AN INDIAN JANBIYYA/KHANJAR DAGGER CIRCA 1700, believed to have belonged to Lawrence of Arabia which sold for a whopping £3,720. Not to be outdone, lot 473: A 16TH CENTURY BOY'S SIZE ARTICULATED ARMOUR GLOVE, modelled as a pointing figure; also caused a stir amongst buyers, selling for £5,760. 
Other lots which did well on the day were 54: A 19TH CENTURY BRONZE FIGURE OF A SPANISH CONQUISTADOR; which made £1,920; 150: TWO AFRICAN TRIBAL CARVED MALE AND FEMALE IVORY FIGURES, with elongated heads, both naked; sold for £2,520; and 471: A 16TH CENTURY STYLE JOUSTING HELMET with single eye slit visor, 19th/20th century origin, which sold for £780. 
Full results from the Specialist Armouries and Military sale – including hammer prices – are available online at For more information, call 01785 714905.
*Please note prices inclusive of buyer’s premium at 20%
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