The Cheffins Fine Art team saw some strong prices across its 2023 sales, helped by ‘fresh to the market items’ from private collections.

Cheffins were privileged to sell the Mike Handford collection of antiques, which was removed from The Hill, Burford, Oxfordshire. Private homes in London yielded some significant contents including the Barry Lock collection from Morpeth Terrace, an important set of paintings from the descents of Sir Cedric Morris, items from the late Sir Georg and Lady Solti, and selected items from Launceston Place, W8.

Closer to home, Cheffins were instructed to sell the entire Michael Mugglestone and Pamela Turnbull collection of sporting art which was removed for sale from their house in Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire. Other properties included The Grange, Heydon - Norfolk, Elsenham Place, Hertfordshire, and items from the Peckover family, which originally formed part of the collection of Peckover House, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

Paintings remained a strong collecting field throughout 2023 and the Fine Sales saw some very robust prices. Highlights included a Turner painting of Chepstow Castle on the River Wye which sold for £75,000, a Sir David Wilkie portrait of Andrew Christie which sold for £24,000, a George Romney painting, John Howard visiting a prison, which sold for £42,000 and a collection of paintings by Sir Oswald and Lady Birley which totalled £92,000.

Turner painting of Chepstow Castle which sold for £75,000 at the Fine Sale auction

Other categories in the Fine Sale saw some good prices being achieved. The Asian section witnessed some strong international bidding, resulting in a Chinese mutton fat jade ape and fruit bowl making £15,000, whilst a pair of Chinese blue and white bowls from the Guangxu period sold for £13,000.

The collectors’ department is amongst the most diverse at Cheffins and 2023 saw an array of interesting items being auctioned. Highlights include a Bank of England, Kenneth O. Peppiatt £500 banknote which sold for £16,000 and a 19th century marble bust of Lord Nelson also attracted a lot of international attention, going under the hammer for £22,000.

19th century marble bust of Lord Nelson which sold for £22,000.

An unusual Fijan club, constructed of heavy dark red wood and flat blade, drew special interest and demonstrated the continuing demand for tribal items. After fierce bidding, it eventually sold for more than its £4,000-£6,000 estimate, going under the hammer for £18,000.

Being in the University town of Cambridge, the Library Sales have always been well supported. 2023 was no exception and £46,000 was achieved for a first edition of both Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey.

Cheffins were also instrumental in the sale of a rare letter by Jane Austen. Dated 1798, the letter was discovered during a routine valuation in Cambridge and went to Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, Hampshire, through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, administered by the Arts Council and negotiated by Cheffins Auctioneers, to settle £140,000 in tax.

The Art & Design sale emphasised the ever-increasing demand for modern and contemporary art. Highlights included a Cedric Lockwood Morris painting of Benton End, which sold for £44,000, a Maggi Hambling picture, Summer Wave With Gull, which sold for £20,000, whilst a Bridget Riley screenprint, Firebird, sold for £33,000. A collection of Simon Bussy paintings from the collection of Anne Tennant, Lady Glenconner, sold for a total of £46,000.

Cedric Lockwood Morris painting of Benton End

The decorative arts and furniture section of the Art & Design auction also yielded some exceptional results. Amongst the furniture highlights was an elegant Sir Robert Lorimer KBE octagonal Arts and Crafts table which sold for £6,000, whilst a pair of After Alberto Giacometti gilt bronze Tete de Femme floor lamps from a London estate sold for £16,000.

There was a fine selection of jewellery, silver and watches throughout the year. Watch highlights include: a steel explorer super precision Rolex wristwatch which dates back to around 1963 and sold for £5,500, in excess of its catalogue guide, a beautiful steel ‘Victory’ limited edition Bremont wristwatch which sold for £6,000, and a rare Omega steel ‘Speedmaster Pre moon’ wristwatch which was hammered down at £9,000, just above its presale estimate of £6,000-8,000.

The Jewellery department also saw some significant sales with a string of natural saltwater pearls, strung knotted to a push-in circular clasp set with an old cut diamond, sold for above estimate for £58,000. An 18ct gold pink sapphire and diamond ring sold for £31,000, whilst a Georgian topaz cased parure including rivière style necklace, ear studs and brooch sold for £13,000. These strong prices reflect the buoyant market for jewellery at auction, which has been helped by the increasing numbers of private individuals buying from auction.

A string of natural saltwater pearls which sold for £58,000.

The silver department also saw some important artefacts, including a George III silver gilt presentation cup and cover which sold for £12,000, whilst a set of four Edward VII silver and nephrite candlesticks in a fitted travelling case realised £6,000.

Charles Ashton, Director of the Fine Art Division, comments: “Cheffins widespread reputation ensured both the high level of consignments from across the United Kingdom, as well as some exceptional prices achieved across all departments. The market remained strong throughout 2023 and each auction attracted record numbers of new buyers.

“We go in to 2024 with a busy sales calendar and with exciting consignments in the pipeline, we are confident that this will be another successful year for the company.”