1. Small First Empire sword for a recipient of the Legion of Honor – â¬ 76,000
At the top of the May Day âinternationalâ sale among Italian arms and armor specialists Czerny in Sarzana was this short sword presenting the First French Empire c.1810. Although estimated at a modest â¬ 1,500-2,000, it sold for â¬ 76,000 (Â£ 66,100).
This extraordinary 95 cm (3 ft 2 in) sword, with its wavy golden and blued blade and finely crafted gilded brass and mother-of-pearl hilt, came with little precious history. However, some of the badges can at least provide clues to a once high-ranking owner. In addition to a medallion depicting a lion’s head with a turret (insignia of the city of Lyon) is the monogram FG and the Maltese cross with five branches of the Legion of Honor.
It was under Napoleon that the arms of honor were effectively replaced by the creation of the Legion of Honor, a new chivalrous order open to men of all ranks and professions. Secular Order of Merit was also an effective way to bestow political favors and ensure loyalty. The sword was complete with a leather scabbard with gilded brass mounts.
2. Stereoscopic Daguerreotype Portfolio – Â£ 21,000
Trudpert Schneider (1804-1899), a carpenter from Friborg whose first brushstroke in photography was to repair a broken camera body, is today considered one of the most important daguerreotypists in Germany.
The photographic company he founded in 1847 continued under the leadership of his sons Heinrich and Wilhelm until 1921.
The Schneider and Sons studio has perfected the lives of traveling photographers – typically traveling from one lucrative location to another, stopping occasionally in the countryside to photograph estates and castles by invitation. The company continued to produce daguerreotypes and stereo daguerreotypes until the 1860s, when the process was replaced elsewhere by wet collodion photography.
At the height of their commercial success, during a trip to Russia in 1861, the Schneider brothers were treated like visiting dignitaries in Moscow and St. Petersburg and enjoyed unprecedented access to the Hermitage, the Kremlin and to members of the royal family.
A portfolio of 10 images of Bavarian and Russian palace interiors circa 1860, each stamped Stereoscopic by T Schneider and Sohne, went on sale April 29 at Chiswick Auctions.
Unique stereoscopic daguerreotypes of the firm appear occasionally and can fetch around Â£ 2,000 each. However, the auction house felt that this was the first time that a band of this type had been offered on the open market with a contemporary manufacturer’s box and a stereo viewer.
Estimated between Â£ 15,000 and Â£ 25,000, it sold for Â£ 21,000.
3. Apulo-Corinthian Helmet – Â£ 15,000
Among the most esteemed lots in the Lyon & Turnbull Live Online Sale of African and Oceanic Art, Antiquities and Natural History in Edinburgh on May 5 was this Apulo-Corinthian Helmet from Southern Italy , circa 350-500 BC.
The hammered bronze helmet was previously part of the Axel Guttmann collection of ancient weapons and armor sold by Sotheby’s in December 1985. Unlike the classical Greek Corinthian helmet, which was worn face-on in combat, the Apulo-Corinthian variant was worn on the top of the head like a cap.
It’s clear in this example, where the eye opening is way too small to be functional.
The winning bid was Â£ 15,000 (estimate Â£ 6,000-9,000).
4. Ventriloquist doll from around 1930 to Â£ 15,000
The sale organized by Swan Fine Art in Tetsworth, Oxfordshire on May 6 featured this premium ventriloquist doll circa 1930. Although not stamped, it shares the characteristics of figurines made by revered maker Arthur Quisto (1882-1960) ) – real name Edwin Simms – who has built action figures for a number of well-known music hall artists. He was the first to use electromagnetic devices to animate his characters.
In addition to a carved wooden torso, the face, hands and feet are molded in papier-mÃ¢chÃ© and the hair is probably human.
Attractive decorative items and collectibles, it sold for Â£ 1,500 to a buyer using thesaleroom.com, well above the estimate of Â£ 60-80.
5. Qianlong style vase – Â£ 20,000
The top lot of the Asian art auction held “Live Online” by Ewbank’s in Send, near Woking on April 30 was this 22 inch (55 cm) tall blue and famille rose large vase , decorated with circular landscape vignettes.
It bore a six-character mark for Emperor Qianlong (1735-1796), and if it had been from the 18th century, it would have been comfortably valued at six digits, but it was not of the time. It nevertheless sold as a 20th century decorative object for Â£ 20,000 against an estimate of Â£ 500 to Â£ 1,000.
The winning bid came from China via thesaleroom.com.