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Clocks and Paul Storr silver outstrip expectations at Bonhams
The star lot of the afternoon was an extraordinary 18th century tortoise shell and silver Chinese Tribute Clock that swiftly climbed past its high estimate to fetch $161,000. Photo: Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- Clocks and fine silver experienced strong bidding at Bonhams’ Fine Furniture, Decorative Arts & Clocks sale on 4 March, which drew in over $1.85 million in sales.

The star lot of the afternoon was an extraordinary 18th century tortoise shell and silver Chinese Tribute Clock that swiftly climbed past its high estimate to fetch $161,000. The gilt-mounted clock set with jewels is a beautiful amalgam of Eastern design and Western clock making. Many of its decorative elements echo the work of the English maker, James Cox, but Chinese symbolism remains dominant: the clock case is in the form of a double gourd which is a Chinese symbol of longevity. The dial is set into the lower half and Chinese characters which translate to ‘Great Auspiciousness’ are set in jewels above it. But the most intriguing element of the design is the caricature of four European figures who are depicted kneeling beneath the clock and bearing it as a tribute.

Other clocks that performed extremely well were rare industrial clocks, including:

· A rare silvered and gilt brass clockwork automaton model of a French armored cruiser attributed to André Romain Guilmet, late 19th century that fetched $81,250, over 3 times the high estimate.

· Another rare silvered, lacquered and gilt brass clockwork automaton of a twin turret French battleship retailed by Kendal & Dent, London, late 19th century that sold for $56,250, soaring past its high estimate of $18,000.

“As is the case in many areas, collectors were very selective in their bidding. The highest prices were paid for rare and unusual clocks that were new to the market. The Chinese tribute clock is virtually unique. The top industrial automatons are models that seldom appear on the market and had been in the Hirschfield collection for decades, says Jonathan Snellenburg, Director of Watches and Clocks at Bonhams.

Fine English silver including remarkable pieces by Paul Storr enjoyed enthusiastic bidding as well. Highlights include:

· A set of four George IV sterling silver-covered breakfast dishes (1829), which realized $43,750. The domed covers on each dish bear the shield, coronet, supporters and motto of Charles Sackville Germain, the Duke of Dorset (1720-1843).

· A Regency sterling silver three-piece coffee service retailed by Rundell, Bridge and Rundell, London, 1814, which achieved $21,250, well past its high estimate.

· A whimsical pair of Regency silver-gilt sugar urns by Edward Farrell originally from the collection of Burghley House, quadrupled their pre-sale estimate and made $14,375.

18th and 19th century souvenirs from the Grand Tour sold very well, past their high estimates. Highlights from the curated section of souvenirs titled, “The Allure of Antiquity: The Bikoff Collection,” include:

· The highest selling lot of the section, twelve volumes of Paoletti’s cameos, Rome, early 19th century, which realized $50,000, ten times its high estimate. Making casts from engraved gems, or cameos, was a common practice from ancient times. Such plaster casts became popular souvenirs for Grand Tour travelers in the early 19th century. The Paolettis were particularly known for their exceptional casting.

· An important French Neoclassical style repousse metal reduction of the Vendôme column, mid-19th century that almost doubled its high estimate and made $37,500. Similar columns have been in the collections of Carlos deBesteigui and Bill Blass.

· A pair of large Italian Neoclassical style patinated bronze models of Trajan's and Marcus Aurelius' columns, 19th century, which sold for $35,000, 3.5 times the high estimate.

· A pair of Continental Neoclassical style Siena marble models of the temples of Castor and Pollux and Vespasian, 19th century, which fetched $32,500.

The next Fine Furniture Decorative Arts & Clocks sale will be held in September of 2015.

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