The first day of the largest country house sale staged since 1977, Chatsworth: The Attic Sale, has just concluded. Of the total 1422 lots in the three-day sale, 395 came under the hammer today. Estimated to realise a sum in the region of £1.2 million, todays session realised an extraordinary £4,416,425 (US$6,980,601), surpassing already the pre-sale estimate of £2.5 million for the entire sale. Nearly all of the lots offered found homes, with sell through rates today of 98.6% by value and 94.7% by lot.
Over 400 people attended the sale today, staged in a fully equipped sale room that had been constructed overnight in a 20,000 square foot marquee in the grounds of Chatsworth. Those attending, paddles in hand, pitted their bids against the 1,000 other people bidding via the phones, live over the internet and through absentee bids lodged with the auctioneer prior to the sale.
The Duke of Devonshire said: I am delighted at how well the first day of the sale has gone. There has been a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for these wonderful items.
Speaking after the sale, Harry Dalmeny, Deputy Chairman, Sothebys
UK and auctioneer for much of the day said: The fantastic energy at the sale today is testimony, if ever any were needed, to the enduring magic of a house like Chatsworth.
At the core of the sale today was a substantial group of furnishings and fittings from one of the greatest lost palaces of London Devonshire House on Piccadilly, designed and furnished by William Kent, one of Englands most influential architects and designers. Together, the 104 lots from Devonshire House made £2,332,755, against a combined estimate in the region of £1.1 million.
Among the fittings from Devonshire house were five chimneypieces designed by William Kent; each of which sold well, one fetching the highest price of the day:
Lot 82, A magnificent George II carved white marble chimneypiece designed by William Kent c. 1735, for the Saloon at Devonshire House. This sold for £565,250 (including buyers premium, see notes to editors) - far above its pre-sale estimate of £200,000-300,000, and a record for a chimneypiece at auction
Other top lots of the day included:
Lot 109, A George II carved white marble chimneypiece, designed by William Kent, c. 1735, for the Ballroom at Devonshire House, sold for £457,250 (est. £200,000-300,000)
Lot 96, A George II grey veined white marble Chimneypiece, designed by William Kent c. 1735, for the Green Drawing Room at Devonshire House, sold for £265,250 (est. £200,000-300,000)
Lot 315, The Chiswick Dining Table, George III Mahogany and crossbanded five pedestal dining table, c. 1790, sold for £205,250 (est. £80,000-120,000)
Lot 137, A late George III gilt-bronze mounted mahogany Library Bookcase, c. 1805-10, designed by Thomas Hope and incorporating a concealed door, through which the Prince Regent (later George IV) would pass to visit Mrs Fitzherbert, sold for £145,250 (est. £60,000-90,000)
Some of the more unusual items offered today were also received well. They included:
Lot 350, An extraordinary assortment of 18th and 19th century shells, some probably having belonged to Georgiana, 5th Duchess of Devonshire, made £6,875 (est. £3,000-5,000)
Lot 174, An unusual Georgian wrought iron 18th-century boot scraper, made £1,875 (est: £300-500)
A number of items offered today exceeded their estimates by multiple factors:
Lot 84, A pair of George II simulated stone carved wood brackets c. 1735, based on a design by William Kent, sold for £115,250 (est. £20,000-30,000)
Lot 60, A Brass and Tortoiseshell Inlaid Première-and Contre-partie Boulle Marquetry Commode attributed to Nicolas Sageot, Louis XIV, c. 1700, sold for £103,250 (est. 25,000-40,000)
Lot 3, A Commonwealth Cast Iron Armorial Fireback, dated 1657, sold for £18,750 (est. 1,200-1,800)
Bidding in the sale today came from across the world: Asia, the US, Europe, Russia, as well the UK (Derbyshire in particular).
1847 people registered to bid today:
610 people registered to bid in the room
997 absentee bids were lodged
90 people registered for telephone bids, 24 telephones on the telephone bank
150 clients registered to bid live via the internet
Interest prior to the sale:
12,500 catalogues were sold prior to the sale
2,000 catalogues were sold at the pre-sale exhibition
Nearly 6,000 visitors came to the pre-sale exhibition