AUCTIONS

There are spates of bobbin faking. Horse bones are lathe-turned, carved, then buried in manure to artificially age them
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Pre-war televisions, highly collectable, are doubling in price every couple of sales at Phillips Bayswater. Fewer survive than Stradivarius violins. At one of Phillips's thrice-yearly "mechanical music" sales last September, a table-top HMV set made in 1936 - the first year of public broadcasting - fetched pounds 2,875. In Tuesday's sale (12 noon) a 1936 Marconi 706 television-radio, with a screen the size of a tennis ball and a walnut cabinet is estimated at pounds 2,000-pounds 2,200. There are commission bids in excess of that and it will probably fetch over pounds 3,500.

Phillips, with a virtual monopoly on the vintage telly market, gets the highest prices. The result is that artful collectors have been buying sets at Sotheby's and Christie's South Kensington for a song and re-selling them for nearly three times as much at Phillips. After a 1936 floor-standing HMV had been sold for pounds 990 at Christie's South Kensington last year, an uncannily similar set turned up at Phillips's May sale, fetching pounds 2,645. Phillips has given an estimate of pounds 2,500-pounds 3,500 on a 1937 Marconi 702 with mirror lid, bought for pounds 990 at Sotheby's last October. But the buyer prefers to hang on to it.

Some post-war tellies are going down in price. A 20in white Keracolour with classic globe shape (made in 1970, inspired by the 1969 moon landing) was worth pounds 500 at auction two years ago when Michael Bennett-Levy's guidebook Historic Televisions ignited the telly-collecting craze. The specimen in this week's sale is estimated at only pounds 150-pounds 250 because every serious collector now has one. Meanwhile, the supply of pre-war models has all but dried up. Phillips sold 15 in 1993, 10 in 1994 and only one last year. Will this week's be the first and last for 1996?

The nearest thing to a Keracolour in the homes of 18th and 19th century lacemakers was a 10in high water-filled spherical glass vase, back-lit by a glass oil lamp of about the same size, that focussed light onto their meticulous work. They feature in Wright of Derby's wondrously illuminated paintings - but were not bright enough to prevent many lacemakers going blind. Two lacemakers' lamps with hollow stem and glass globe are estimated at pounds 100-pounds 150 each in Phillips's sale of textiles, lace and period costume, Tuesday (11am). Only one or two a year crop up at auction. The sale has plenty of pencil-like turned bone and wood lace-making bobbins decorated with spangles at one end, many carved with names and mis-spelt lines such as "I long to be mared". Lots of 24 are estimated at pounds 150-pounds 200. From time to time, there are spates of bobbin faking in the antique world. Horse bones are lathe-turned, carved, then buried in manure to artificially age them. Phillips's Anne Marie Benson spots them because their incisions, made with modern tools, are too sharp, and because they lack signs of wear and the slightly glossy patina caused by perspiration.

John Windsor

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