Collect Call: By George, a real dragon
Tuesday 11 November 1997
By the 19th century, the clever forgers were forging false 18th century dates on their works. But the dragon, one of a dozen scaly creatures from a private collection to be sold at Christie's next Tuesday (10.30am) is one of only two known with a convincing maker's name and early date - lucky dragon day in the sixth month of 1713. The estimate is pounds 50,000- pounds 70,000, but there is an articulated iron lobster estimated pounds 2,000-pounds 2,500 and two cast copper crabs at pounds 500-pounds 700 the pair.
Victorian-Edwardian fan language was probably the spurious invention of publishers. Otherwise one might detect a loaded proposition in the cockade fan inscribed "Home Notes 1d Weekly" or the hint direct - "Get Me A Drink" - in the Martini fan. Both were advertising give-aways, popular from the turn of the century until the 1920s. The 18th century Italian flag fan is what fans were like before the folding fan was invented in the late 16th century. This one, estimated pounds 400-pounds 500 at Phillps textiles and fans sale next Tuesday (11am) seems to have resisted fashion. What's this? An orb without its sceptre? A pyx for consecrated bread? No, it is a sponge dish of about 1755 and a ducal one at that. The coat of arms is Continental and the duke may have been a little hard up, unable to afford a silver one. This is brass, originally silvered, and is lucky to survive being chucked out when the silver wore off. It is only 3.75 ins tall, in order to compress the sponge and retain its moisture. It is also ideal for playing boats in the bath. Price pounds 850. See it at Rupert Gentle Antiques' stand at the Olympia Fine Art and Antiques Fair, next Monday to Sunday, entry pounds 10 (0171-244 2219).
Another orb: a 19th century lacemakers' glass lamp. It did not light up itself, but was filled with water - an economical device to reflect the light of a candle placed next to it by impoverished outworkers in their homes. The lamps were probably decorative status symbols. The workmanship of this one does not look cheap. Estimate pounds 150-pounds 180 in Phillips' textiles and fans sale.
Another orb - on one of two Swatch watches designed by Vivienne Westwood. It is among a collection of 224 Swatches offered for pounds 8,500-pounds 9,500 the lot at Phillips' sale of 20th art and design, next Tuesday (11am). Britain's limited ration of 1,000 was issued at the London Planetarium in 1993. Collectors now pay more than their pounds 45 starting price.
In the same sale, Paolozzi and Habitat. An unlikely match? He did the poster for the opening of new stores in the King's Road, London, and at the Tour Montparnasse, Paris, in 1973. It's a period piece - Habitat is now cultivating Saatchi artists. Estimate pounds 150-pounds 250.
Provenance pays: this outstanding 7.25in tall tripot of about 1956 by Hans Coper, most highly priced of contemporary potters, was in this year's "Lucie Rie and Hans Coper: Potters in Parallel" exhibition at the Barbican and is in Tony Birks' book "Hans Coper". The estimate, in Bonhams' Contemporary Ceramics Masterworks sale, Thursday (6pm) is modest - pounds 5,000-pounds 7,000.
Naughty, naughty. When Continental dukes were not playing with their sponge dishes in the bath, they were glancing surreptitiously at erotic automata, such as this Swiss 14-carat gold repeater watch of about 1890. The sale catalogue says it is activated when repeating. Christie's Geneva, next Tuesday (10am). Estimate pounds 2,500-pounds 3,300.
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