Rare 17th Century Writing Desk Among £25,000 Collection Of Antiques In Ewbank’s Auction
Three-day Sale Is Expected To Raise Total Of £350,000
It dates from the 1600s, yet it has survived in remarkable condition – even the gold coloured velvet beneath the elaborate wrought iron fretwork handles and hinges is original – clearly this was a piece of furniture much loved by the affluent Spanish family which owned it.
Called a Vargueno – the equivalent of our writing desk, but far more elaborate – it is one of the star lots next week in premier Surrey fine art and antiques auctioneers Ewbank’s important late Summer sale, a three-day bonanza of more than 1,850 lots. The sale is on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, September 19-21.
Ownership of the desk passed to the Surrey vendor when he purchased a Spanish villa about 25 years ago. It was among the historic furniture and fittings, which also included antique carved wooden figures and architectural columns believed to have been rescued from a Spanish chapel. Together with the desk, the collection is expected to raise a total of around £25,000.
The Vargueno originated in Renaissance Spain in the 15th century. It is basically a chest or box with one of the side panels serving as a "lid" which folds down to become a horizontal surface for writing and working. They were used for storing papers, for sewing materials or as a jewel chest throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries and have become popular antiques again for the modern home.
As a general rule, the interior of the cabinet is even more richly decorated than the exterior and the present walnut example is no exception. Behind the elaborate locking mechanism comprising double lock, four catches and two hooks are 15 drawers or varying sizes arranged symmetrically and two locking cupboards with carved doors.
Originally intended to be portable – it has wrought iron handles on either side – the desk now sits on an equally elaborate stand with slides to support the fold-down front and turned legs with lion’s paw feet. It is estimated at £3,000-5,000.
A late 17th or early 18th century Spanish walnut serpentine chest of three drawers, over two short and three long drawers with foliate line inlaid decoration on carved bracket feet is estimated at £2,000-3,000.
A somewhat later and more elegant writing desk comes in the form of an early 20th century Sheraton revival mahogany and inlaid cylinder front bureau with lines to grace any home (estimate £800-1,200) while an iconic Charles Eames reclining chair and matchiing stool, designed by the husband and wife team of architects and designers, Charles and Ray Eames in 1956, is right for the most modern home. A label on the chair shows it was made by U.S. licensee Herman Miller of Zeeland, Michigan (£1,200-1,800).
Another hallmark of this year’s first three-day Ewbank’s sale, is a large selection of gold jewellery and coins (450 lots) and silver (320). Most valuable single lot is likely to be an extensive canteen of George V king’s pattern cutlery by George Jackson and David Fullerton (London, 1913, 530oz) in original mahogany and brass military style canteen with two doors, the interior with seven drawers, which is estimated at £8,000-12,000. The Bristol firm was the largest manufacturing silversmiths in England outside London, Birmingham and Sheffield.
A good Victorian silver table top snuff box by Nathanial Mills, with applied scroll decoration, (Birmingham 1843, 16 ozs) is estimated at £1,000-1,500 and a Tiffany and Co., glass and sterling silver mounted claret jug with star cut base, the hinged cover with lion and shield is estimated at £300-500
A £50,000-plus collection of gold jewellery will be boosted further by 70 sovereigns, many sent for sale by the owner whose family had the good sense to purchase them when the price of gold was a fraction of what it is today. Dating from the early 1900s, the coins are each estimated at £180-220.
In English ceramics, a pair of 18th century Worcester blue and white circular baskets, with pierced and painted floral and foliate decoration, each marked with the underglaze painted crescent is estimated at £600-1,000, while in the Chinese porcelain section, a set of four fine 18th century Qianlong famille rose rectangular dishes, the rims decorated with floral swags, each with central coats of arms, are together estimated at £1,200-1,800. A further fine example is painted with a Dutch landscape and the arms of Drummond impaling Beauclerk (£800-1,200) while another pair is decorated with an image of Lan Ts'ai-ho and buffalo in a landscape (£1,000-2,000). Lan Ts'ai-ho was one of the Eight Immortals and patron saint of florists.
A 1979 yellow MGB GT 1800cc car with full service history is estimated modestly at £600-900. For the more refined, a Jaguar S Type 3.0 Litre V6 SE, 4 door saloon, in navy blue, first registered January 2000, with personalised number plate V6 MPL and approximately 68,000 miles on the clock is also priced to sell at £400-600.
For the sporting shot enthusiast is an excellent Dickson of Edinburgh 12 bore double barrelled shotgun with foliage engraved mounts (£3,000-5,000). A 19th century Belgian four barrel pepperbox percussion pistol engraved “Mangeot arq de la cour a Bruxelles”, with Liege proof marks and a handle with carved shell and scroll decoration, is estimated at £300-500.
The sale will be on view on Saturday September 15 from 10am-2pm; Monday September 17, 10am-5pm; Tuesday September 18, 10am-8pm and on the mornings of the sale from 9.30-10. For further information, please contact the auctioneer on 01483 223101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.