Ewbank's Looks Back At Unusual Auction Highlights Of 2017
Single-owner collections and charity auctions among key sales

Mary Wondrausch AuctionEwbank’s Surrey’s leading auction house, held many unusual and one-off sales throughout 2017, from epic single-owner collections of a particular type of collectible, to an entire house filled with intriguing curios and antiques.

One of the first of the special sales of the year, followed an instruction from the family of well-known local potter and artist, Mary Wondrausch, who passed away in 2016, to sell most of the contents of her studio and home, Brickfields, in Compton, near Guildford.

Almost 500 lots went under the hammer at the one-off auction, with a total sale price of just under £70,000. Her signature slipware-decorated ceramics as well as her paintings, made up the majority of items on sale.

Pieces of note included a painting in watercolour and gouache of a garden in Spring, which sold to a local buyer for £889, and two slipware decorated plaques, one featuring the address of her studio, which had a final price of £356, beating the estimate of £150 to £250.

In late March 2017, Ewbank’s hosted a special sale of “The Collection of Anthony Cumings” which included pottery, antique silverware, paintings, miniature portraits and Royal memorabilia. Cumings was a well-known and respected businessman who ran Antony Hirewear in Godalming for 21 years. He was an avid collector and crammed his home full of items bought over more than 30 years, mostly from local and London auctions.

Following his death in January his incredible collection was put up for sale in 440 lots, with only a handful failing to sell, the auction realised just under £106,000. Buyers included keen collectors and a number of Cumings' friends, in what auctioneer Chris Ewbank described as a “very friendly atmosphere” in the room.

The highest value lot sold from the Cumings Collection was two oil-on-board studies by Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929) of a young man on the beach which had a final price of £5,207; both studies are painted on either side of the same board. It is believed these were painted as studies for Tuke’s works depicting young boys bathing around Falmouth Harbour, Cornwall in the early 20th century. He had bought it from Ewbank’s less than 18 months previously.

Other pieces of note Henry Scott Tuke Auctionincluded Queen Victoria's memorial stick pin dedicated to her son Prince Alfred on his death. It had been estimated at between £500 and £1,000, but sold to a north London private buyer for £4,064. It was engraved 'Dear Alfred July 30th Mama VRI, 1900,’ with a gold with a blue enamel anchor, the letter A and a crown set with old-cut diamonds.

In the silverware section of the sale there were six George III silver plates by Andrew Fogelberg & Stephen Gilbert, London, 1781. They had a final price of £2,286, against a guide of £1,200 to £1,600, and sold to a Home Counties private buyer.

The final single-owner auction of 2017 was a two-day sale of “The Adrian Cowdry Collection” in October. It was a large collection of entertainment artefacts, including autographs, collectables and posters, built up by one man, the late Adrian Cowdry, a world-renowned entertainment expert. It was split into more than 500 lots by the experts at Ewbank’s and every single one sold for a sale total of £153,000.
Many of the lots were connected to the James Bond franchise, which was the start point for Cowdry’s 40-plus years of collecting memorabilia. Alastair McCrea, the entertainment specialist at Ewbank’s, described this as ‘one of the most complete and in depth James Bond collections he had ever seen’.

Art On a PostcardOne of the more unusual sales for Ewbank’s was the unreserved auction of the stock of Arlington Furniture Conservation from West London, which took place in a marquee beside the Burnt Common Auction Rooms, in the Summer.

The 357 lots were expected to fetch between £50,000 and £75,0000, however the final total was £90,000. The main bulk of the stock, in terms of volume and value, was exotic and often rare timber, which that had been in stock for many years. The top price was for two large pieces of Cuban mahogany which sold for a final price of £4,116.

Ewbank’s hosts many sales for charities throughout the year, and in 2017 staged two for The Hepatitis C Trust: Art On A Ukulele, which saw 28 hand-decorated ukuleles on sale, and Art On A Postcard, a secret auction in which buyers do not know who painted the postcard-sized work. The total for both auctions was £84,000, and as with all charity auctions, Ewbank’s charged no vendor commission.

The top price was for a ukulele painted by famed album cover artist George Underwood (b.1947) who decorated a kala concert ukulele in oils, entitled 'You Can Ukulele Tattoo'. It sold for £6,096.

Underwood was a lifelong friend of David Bowie and reportedly responsible for Bowie’s distinctive differently coloured eye following a fight while they were at school together. Many former colleagues in the music business employed him to do their album artwork including for the first T Rex album and later for David Bowie’s Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust album covers, which established him as a world-leading and creative art illustrator.

Ewbank’s next sales are Contemporary Art on 18th January which is on view from 9am on Monday 15th January, and an Antique & Collectors Auction on 24 January which will be on view from 9am on Monday 22 January.

•      Ewbank’s: 01483 223101 or email valuations@ewbankauctions.co.uk
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