AUCTIONS

Possibly the last dedicated Gothic Revival sale - furniture, silver - is at Bonhams, Thursday (2pm). The first, in June last year, was a tearaway: catalogues sold like hot cakes at the V&A's Pugin exhibition and the sale took pounds 254,225, selling 87 per cent by value. But this sale has been hard to fill.

Panting "Phew, just made it!" is an extra-long, pink dralon sofa. Not a lot of Goth in it, you might think. But its stubby, square-section legs are deep-chamfered and carved with circular roseheads - neo-Gothic give- aways. Hence its cheeky catalogue entry: "In the manner of AWN Pugin". Estimate : a hesitant pounds 300-pounds 500.

A mahogany coffer of 1815 attributed to John Nash is est pounds 5,000-pounds 7,000. Although Nash's Strawberry Hill edifice, where Walpole lived, inspired the 1790s Gothic revival, most collectors consider Nash's rigid symmetries to be "out of period", preferring the more romantic style that Pugin applied to his designs for the Palace of Westminster, 1840-1860. Among them: a pair of brass candlesticks topped by fleurs-de-lis with spiral fluted columns, pounds 3,000-pounds 5,000 in the sale.

FIREPOWER

A select band of collectors licensed to own firearms are keeping the auction price of 20th-century military guns within their reach. Most of the collection of German 20th-century military firearms in Christie's sale, Wednesday (2pm), are modestly estimated. A Luger 9mm "pistole 08" self-loader in leather holster, stamped 1917, is pounds 200-pounds 400.

There are several pistols with wooden shoulder-stocks; a Mauser 9mm "Commercial" self-loader is pounds 800-pounds 1,200. But an unusual Mauser prototype of these "Schnellfeuerpistoles" (machine-pistols) is est pounds 40,000. It fires 850 rounds a minute, "far too high to be of any practical use", according to the catalogue, which also draws attention to its nasty habit of "cooking-off" - self-ignition of ammunition by heat from previous bursts.

A hand-cranked Gatling machine-gun of 1878 - the sort that slaughtered Zulus, Turks and native Americans - is est pounds 23,000-pounds 28,000. Gatling thought his invention would "supersede the necessity of large armies".

BAD TASTE

Five pornographic lithophanes (coloured plates) at Christie's South Kensington's camera sale, Thursday (10.30am), est pounds 400-pounds 600. And at Phillips's sale of applied arts, Tuesday (12 noon), a Zooray portable electric fire in the form of a Scottie dog, pounds 120-pounds 150.

For fairs and auctions nationwide, see page 15

JW

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