Under the Hammer column with Tennants Auctioneers

Three of a set of six specimen banknotes issued in Burma during the 1940s sold for �64,000. (Coin & Banknote Sale, 9 May)
Three of a set of six specimen banknotes issued in Burma during the 1940s sold for �64,000. (Coin & Banknote Sale, 9 May)

An extraordinary array of more than 400 antique fans, amassed by the renowned collector Arthur Blackborne, is to be auctioned in two single-owner sales at Tennants Auctioneers in Leyburn – Part I on Wednesday 23 May and Part II on Wednesday 25 July.

Arthur Blackborne (1856-1952) is best known for assembling one of the largest and finest collections of antique lace ever known.

A fine Circa 1880s Tortoiseshell Bris� Fan ' �1,500-2,000. (The Arthur Blackborne Collection of Antique Fans, Wednesday 23 May)

A fine Circa 1880s Tortoiseshell Bris� Fan ' �1,500-2,000. (The Arthur Blackborne Collection of Antique Fans, Wednesday 23 May)

It had been started by his father, Anthony (1842-1878), who opened the family shop in Mayfair in 1850, selling fine lace to the cream of society as well as to major European and American collections.

Their immense stock of nearly 7,000 pieces of historic lace was finally donated to The Bowes Museum, County Durham in 2007. But, in addition to his interest in lace, Blackborne also collected other antique textiles and of course fans, none of which have been on the market since his death and the closure of the London shop in 1952.

The collection consists primarily of 18th Century European fans decorated with Biblical and mythological scenes, many of which depict subjects rarely found on such items.

China is well represented too, with examples made of tortoiseshell, wood and lacquer and decorated with unusual scenes and exquisite little details such as fish, toads and beetles.

This oil on canvas portrait of a prize cow standing in a barn sold for �2,500. (Country House Sale, Saturday 28 April)

This oil on canvas portrait of a prize cow standing in a barn sold for �2,500. (Country House Sale, Saturday 28 April)

Some of the 19th Century fans also come with added Royal provenance, having been purchased in 1942 from the Christie’s sale of the Contents of Bagshot Park, Surrey, the home of HRH Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, who died that year.

Also on offer is the author’s original proof copy of ‘The History of the Fan’ by G. Woolliscroft Rhead, published in 1910.

The book is offered complete with marginal notes and numerous letters from the Society ladies who lent their own fans to Woolliscroft Rhead for publication. Included are letters from Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace.

In other news a set of six specimen banknotes from Burma have smashed the house record for a Coins and Banknotes sale at Tennants, selling for a hammer price of £64,000. Interest was expected in the notes, but after extremely competitive bidding from around the world the lot finally sold to a bidder in the room, who had flown in from the United States especially for the sale.

This set of notes is very rare indeed and all are in mint condition. They were issued during the war in 1943 and 1945 when the country was under military administration; all are stamped ‘SPECIMEN’, and four of them were re-issued Reserve Bank of India notes used as emergency war-time currency with the specimen serial numbers ‘000 000000’.

Collected in Burma during the war by a British engineer and kept in pristine condition in an album, they were amongst his possessions inherited by a family member, who had little idea of their value when they were consigned to Tennants.

The end of April saw traditional mixed art and antiques redolent of the ‘Country House’ style excite buyers at the auction of the same title.

From impressive Mahogany Serving Tables (£2,600 plus buyer’s premium) to a Jaques Staunton Pattern Chess Set (£1,600 plus b.p.) – the demand for good furnishing pieces and decorative antiques was evident.

One of the most notable successes was in the field of period garden furniture.

A pair of 20th Century Cast Iron Fern and Berry Garden Benches sold for £2,100 (plus b.p.) against an estimate of £600-800, a Victorian Cast Iron Lily of the Valley Pattern Garden Bench by CB Dale & Co sold for £1,600 (plus b.p.), and a Coalbrookdale Gothic Pattern Cast Iron Seat, also by CB Dale & Co sold for £1,550 (plus b.p.) against an estimate of £300-500.

Also causing a stir were charming ‘naïve’ animal paintings, such as a 19th Century English School ‘Portrait of a Prize Cow Standing in a Barn’, which sold for £2,500 (plus b.p.) and was sourced through the Tennant’s Harrogate branch.

From the same collection were a group of three engravings of prize cows, including ‘The Unrivalled Lincolnshire Heifer’ by William Ward after Thomas Weaver, which sold for £1,800 (plus b.p.).

Other items of note were a Carved Polychrome and Giltwood Group of the Holy Family, in the 17th Century Style, together with a Bronze Figure of a Monk, that achieved £4,500 (plus b.p.) and which were sold with provenance from The Bar Convent, York.

The Chinese market continued to offer up surprises with a Jade Carving from the late 19th/early 20th Century selling for £2,400 (plus b.p.) against a much lower estimate, both were again sourced through the Tennant’s Harrogate office. The sale achieved a total hammer price of £375,045 with 84% of the 1278 lots selling.

For further details on all sales please see our website www.tennants.co.uk or call us on 01423 531661.