A mid-19th Century Italian Tortoiseshell Snuff Box Sold for £4,000

28th January 2013

A mid-19th century Italian tortoiseshell snuff box with a micro-mosaic panel top sold for £4,000 in the first sale of the New Year at the Lincoln auction rooms.

The box attracted fierce competition from international collectors during the auction at Golding Young & Mawer on Wednesday (January 23). It was finally bought by an Italian collector bidding over the phone.

Auctioneer John Leatt said: "The snuff box is certain to have come into the country by someone who had been on a Grand Tour of Europe in the mid-19th century. Although there was some damage to the box, the panel itself was in fantastic condition.

"On sale day competition was fierce with two Italian buyers and one American bidding on the telephones and a number of other buyers competing on the Internet.

"We are delighted with the price achieved for our vendor and it proves the old adage that rare and unusual objects will make more these days than they ever have done."

Elsewhere in the sale, an engraved brass tape measure stolen by a convict who was subsequently transported to Australia for his crime sold to an Australian collector for £160, double the top end of its estimate of £60 to £80.

The early 19th century tape measure was engraved with '1839 Charles White was transported for seven years for stealing this tape'.

Mr Leatt said: "This was an unusual item and difficult to price but we are pleased it has found a good home."

White was just 22 years old when he was tried for the theft on June 26, 1837, in Oxfordshire and sentenced to seven years in the colonies. He set sail for New South Wales on the Portsea from Portsmouth just over a year later on July 24, 1838.

Records show that the ship's Master was Samuel John Lowe and its surgeon Thomas Bell. Of the 240 prisoners on board, one died on the journey and the others arrived at Sydney on December 18, 1838 after a journey of 140 days.

Australia became a penal colony in the late 18th century to alleviate the overcrowding in British jails. The first 780 convicts arrived in 1788 and by the time the last shipment had disembarked in 1868, 160,000 criminals had been transported from Britain. Most of the convicts were men who were transported for minor crimes.

One of the most unusual items in the sale was a card signed by Adolf Hitler which read 'Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year' and was dated December 1943. The card was sold by a local collector and made a hammer price of £120.

Among the furniture in the sale, a Victorian walnut and marquetry credenza from a local deceased estate sold for the top end of its estimate at £1,400.

The first lot of the sale was a Moser style Bohemian ruby glass box, which had been brought into the auction rooms during one of its free Friday valuation mornings and sold for £850. Meanwhile, eight leather-bound volumes of The History of Leicestershire by John Nichols F.S.A made £360.

Within a section of die-cast model railway, tin plate and others toys was a rare Captain Scarlet 21st century driving game in good condition and in its original box which sold for £160.The game was copyrighted 1967 and was made by Triang.

Gerry Anderson, the creator of the hit TV shows Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Stingray and Joe 90, died aged 83 in December last year. His most famous show was Thunderbirds, a science fiction fantasy about a daring rescue squad which ran from 1965. 'Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons' was first broadcast in September 1967 and was the follow-up to Thunderbirds.

The sale also included a collection of vintage weights and measures equipment previously used by officers in the former HM Customs and Excise, now HM Revenue and Customs. The highlight of these items was a late 19th century half model of a boat which made £550. The model would have been used by boat builders to show prospective customers what their boat would look like and could be displayed on a wall.

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