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Bonhams £3.3M sale of Trelissick House contents doubles expectations with 100% sell rate
The contents of Trelissick House, subsequently owned by the Copeland family and including the Spode-Copeland Collection of ceramics, were sold by Bonhams in an on-site house sale. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- International interest from America, Europe and China boosted the Bonhams sale of the contents of Trelissick House near Truro in Cornwall, this week, more than doubling the top pre-sale estimate of £1.5m to a final total of £3,269,238. Every item in the sale found a buyer.

The two-day 835 lot sale on July 23 and 24 created excitement across Cornwall and far beyond. The three sale preview days saw over 2,000 people at Trelissick House eager to see the legendary Spode ceramic collection and the many other fine objects in the sale including furniture, silver, porcelain and pictures.

Top items in the sale included an 18th century Chinese Quinlong era vase which made £337,250, a George II partners desk in the manner of Thomas Chippendale at £58,850, a Regence walnut, elm and rosewood ebony and ivory commode at £43,250, a John Frederick Herring picture of a bay racehorse in a stable for £31,250, two Chinese Kangxi vases £181,250, and a Victorian silver ten piece garniture at £39,650. At the other end of the scale, a charming if modest set of silver sandwich name tags made £5,000.

Roger Tappin, Bonhams Regional Director in Cornwall, said after the sale| "The result exceeded all our expectations. Interest from three continents drove prices ever upwards. The sale was broadcast live round the world and bidding was fierce in the room, on the bank of ten telephones and on the internet. We were helped by the most beautiful weather which set Trelissick and the Fal estuary off to perfection. It was the widely accepted that the sale represented a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire ceramic masterworks from China, the Middle East and Europe. Trelissick House, the repository of so many wonderful art works over the years is synonymous with Cornwall and this sale was a landmark event for 2013. The on-site auction gave everyone in Cornwall who has visited and loved Trelissick a chance to bid on a piece of Cornish history. We were honoured to manage the sale for William and Jenny Copeland."

He said the sale required careful planning: ”We promoted the sale for three months internationally. Cataloguing was a massive undertaking, accurately logging the result of over 100 years of collecting, creating an authoritative catalogue as well as a reference work for future generations. At the sale we had to establish our own communication network enabling us to receive live online and telephone bidding from around the world. The team of 30 Bonhams specialists created a sophisticated and charming saleroom in a marquee that covered the former stable-yard. In the end it all worked like clockwork. We ended up selling 100 per cent of the items in the sale, many of them for many times more than their top estimates."

The contents of Trelissick House, subsequently owned by the Copeland family and including the Spode-Copeland Collection of ceramics, were sold by Bonhams in an on-site house sale. In scope, scale and importance, the collection of Spode was unrivalled and was comparable only to the world-renowned Spode Museum in Stoke-on-Trent. Many pieces appeared in the standard reference books on Spode and Copeland and the entire collection told the complete story of the Copeland’s and their pottery manufacture over the last two hundred years.

Held in the picturesque setting of Trelissick House on the banks of the Fal Estuary, the auction was a major event in Bonhams summer schedule of sales. It included everything you would expect from the contents of an English stately home - from fine English and French furniture to Chinese porcelain, silver, wine, books, and paintings which includes a collection of John Frederick Herring Snr paintings originally commissioned by the Copeland family in the 19th century.

Leonard Daneham Cunliffe had a distinguished career as the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, co-founder of the merchant bank Cunliffe Brothers, Director of the Hudson Bay Company and a major investor in Harrods. Cunliffe, whose tastes were eclectic, always had a great eye for quality, and used his ever expanding collection of antiques to decorate his various homes, which included properties at 109 Eaton Square and a neo-classical country house, Trelissick House, near Truro. When Cunliffe died in 1937, the major part of his vast collection of Renaissance bronzes, Chinese ceramics, Limoges enamels, furniture and paintings, was bequeathed to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The Trelissick Estate was left to his stepdaughter, Ida Copeland.

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