much anticipated sale of The Hoffmeister Collection of Meissen Porcelain Part I took place at their New Bond Street saleroom raising £1,091,100. The sale attracted worldwide interest with lively bidders in the saleroom joined on the telephone by collectors from all four corners of the globe. 77.29% of the exquisite lots included in the catalogue were sold by value (73.28% by lot).
Amongst the bidders was the Duke of Northumberland, who was keen to acquire a piece of ancestral porcelain. A rare Meissen plate from the 'Hanbury Williams/Duke of Northumberland' service dated 1748-1750 had been a gift from Augustus III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony to Sir Charles Hanbury Williams in 1748, probably passing to the then Earl of Northumberland in 1756. Today, all but a few pieces from the service remain on display at Alnwick Castle. Today's sale represented a unique opportunity for the Duke to acquire a part of his heritage, with the rare Meissen plate selling for £26,400 against a pre-sale estimate of £15,000-20,000.
Sebastian Kuhn, European Ceramics Senior Specialist at Bonhams said: "We are delighted that the Duke of Northumberland was able to acquire this rare plate to reunite it with the famous service of Meissen that has long been in Alnwick Castle".
Meanwhile, a very rare pair of Meissen turquoise-ground vases from the Japanese Palace circa 1732-34 was the top lot on the day. The vividly coloured pieces sold for £102,000 doubling their pre-sale estimate of £40,000-60,000. Another star of the sale was a superb Meissen coffee pot and cover circa 1735 which reached £96,000, against an estimate of £50,000-70,000.
Other highlights include two finely decorated dishes with "chinoiserie" decoration, from 1730-35, which reached £84,000 (estimate £40,000-60,000) and £50,400 (estimate £30,000-50,000), respectively. Other dishes or stands proved popular with buyers; an important Meissen circular stand circa 1725-30 exceeded the pre-sale estimate of £30,000-40,000 to achieve £48,000, the same price for which a very rare Meissen circular stand circa 1725-30 was sold. These were joined by an extremely rare Meissen armorial sugar bowl and cover circa 1735 which was bought for £38,400 against a pre-sale estimate of £20,000-30,000.
The Hoffmeister Collection illustrates the quality and variety of the oldest porcelain manufacturing in Europe. With so many of the pieces included in the sale boasting a prestigious provenance diplomatic gifts between European princes that passed between some of the most colourful characters of the époque it is little wonder that collectors were keen to purchase their own piece of 18th Century history.
Competition amongst buyers was fierce for a very rare Meissen armorial two-handled beaker and saucer from the service for the Elector Clemens August of Cologne dated 1735, which sold for £61,200 (estimate £35,000-50,000), whilst a very large Meissen charger from the Sulkowski service circa 1735-38 achieved £36,000 (estimate £30,000-40,000) and a Meissen armorial two-handled beaker and saucer from the service for Queen Ulrika Eleonora of Sweden circa 1732 reached £34,800 (estimate £30,000-40,000).
Sebastian Kuhn, European Ceramics Senior Specialist at Bonhams comments: "Meissen of this calibre belongs in special collections and Bonhams is thrilled to have been able to find new owners from around the world, who will treasure it as much as the Hoffmeisters have done."