At £366,000... Going, Going...

30th March 2021

The Country House auction sale of contents of Newbold Pacey Hall in Warwickshire on 27th and 28th January 2021 was the culmination of months of hard work, starting during the first lockdown of 2020 to deliver 1,000 lots under the hammer in the January 2021 lockdown.

Amongst the many collectables and antiques was a boxed group of locks of hair relating to the monarchy and the royal family, selling for a triple estimate sum of £8,600. 

Lot 1418 - A rare and important collection of Royal hair lockets, together with an account of the opening of the coffin of King Charles I in 1813, the seven hinged gold (unmarked) and glass lockets each bearing a name tab and a locket of hair for: Edward IIII, George II, George III, Queen Charlotte, Ernest King of Hanover, George IIII, William IIII and The Duke of Wellington, in a blue plush lined and fitted tray, and the book by Sir Henry Halford Bart, FRS, & FAS, physician the The King & Prince Regent, London 1813, in a red Morocco leather case bearing a crown to the hinged lid. 

The bidding ebbed and flowed with all the drama that would have had the audience gasping, ending with a round of applause in the marquee in past times.  Auctioneer Colin Young said “We may not have had a marquee, but the bidding was still intense! ... rather than in tents?”. 

The Hall was built around 1790 by William Little and has been the family seat since that time.  The sale of the property with the inevitable sale of the contents which included antiques, paintings and artefacts from the late Georgian period and its accumulation through the family by descent.  The two day sale smashed all expectation with a sale total expected in the region of £225,000 to £250,000, but when the hammer fell on the last lot a sale total of £366,000 had been achieved.

Day One commenced with the furniture and interior decorations and the morning session started well with a pair of painted waterfall side cabinets selling for £2,200 and a late 17thC/early 18thC lacquer cabinet on a gilt wood stand being taken to £9,800. 

In the absence of an open public viewing, the auctioneers prepared a 3D visual tour of the property with objects interlinked to the auction catalogue.  The rest of the furniture can be viewed in situ online and the results viewed from their respective links. 

The afternoon session was formed from mainly ceramics and collectables including British porcelain, Continental porcelain and Asian art.  Prices throughout were very strong even down to a section of  heavily damaged Chinese & Japanese ceramics selling for over £10,000.

At the end of Day One only 3 lots had failed to capture the imagination of the bidders who had already spent over £170,000. 

Day Two started with the important library of antiquarian books for which the 325 lot section soon built up a further £78,000. 

The top lot in the section was Lot 1209 Curtis (William). FLORA LONDINENSIS... FIRST EDITION 2 vol., c.1777-79 selling for £6,500

The Day Two afternoon session saw the pictures and prints section start with old folios of drawings and etchings from the 19th Century before the landscapes and portraiture took centre stage. 

As expected, the two highest prices in the section were Grand Tour landscapes by Jacob More, the first being a scene of The Falls of Tivoli, with figures of a fisherman, his companion and dog in foreground, oil on canvas, signed and inscribed 'Roma 1790' (below the figures), 148cm x 201cm, selling for £19,500.  Followed by its companion work being The Roman Campagna, with cattle and figures in foreground, oil on canvas, signed and inscribed 'Roma 1790' (below the cattle), 148cm x 201cm, selling for £19,000.  Both went to the same buyer on this occasion.  Other works included ...

Lot 1308 - Thomas Kirkby (1796-c.1847). A portrait of William Little of Newbold Pacey, c1826, in a half length pose seated in a red leather chair and holding a letter in his left hand, inscribed and dated 1826 verso, oil on canvas, 90cm x 70cm, selling for £2,700

Lot 1315 - 18thC English School. A portrait of Louisa Letitia Cheveley (wife of Jermingham Cheveley Esq), wearing a white silk dress with blue bow, oil on canvas, inscribed verso, 31cm x 25cm (oval), sold for £2,600

Lot 1319 - After Michelangelo Mersi da Caravaggio (1570/71-1610). 18thC portrait of The Penitent Mary Magdalene, half length, with eyes cast to the heavens and hands clasped across her chest, oil on canvas, 72cm x 59cm, sold for £1,500

Lot 1343 - Late 19thC English School. A Tromp L'oeil picture of keys, feathers, hammer and hand written notes, etc., oil on oak panel, 33cm x 42cm, sold for £2,400

Lot 1353 - An engraved permit to the funeral of the late Vice Admiral Horatio Viscount Nelson (January 1806), admitting William Little Esq (handwritten) into the procession from the admiralty to St Paul's Cathedral, signed by Issac Head (the Garter King at Arms), and numbered 117, also bearing black wax seal, framed and glazed (glazing as found), 19cm x 27cm, sold for £2,700

The sale concluded with all of the bijouterie, silver and collectables which included a lead musket ball from the battle field of Waterloo, which bears a label attached by red sealing wax and states: 'found on the field of Waterloo by Knightley Howman, June 1842' which sold for £525; and of course the previously mentioned Royal Locks of Hair.

Pre-sale the auction interest beat all house records from pre-sale catalogue viewing, digital advert engagement and the number of registered bidders.  Post-sale there were floods of compliments about how the sale was conducted and even the Antiques Trade Gazette dedicated a third of a page purely auctioneer Colin Young’s quips and comments to keep everyone engaged and amused throughout the sale. 

The sale came about by way of an inquiry from the Little family during the first lockdown to advise on the value and potential sale of the chattels in the estate.  Over the following months of coming out of lockdown, the raising and lowering of restrictions, a dedicated team was placed on site to prepare the catalogue for release at a future date that was still to be confirmed as yet at that point.  With various changes in circumstance and change of planned sale dates, the sale was finally advertised, promoted, executed and managed within a two week period. 

Whilst auctioneer Colin Young is highly experienced in organising country house sales the ever changing Coronavirus regulations and restrictions brought with them both fresh challenges but also many opportunities to learn new skills. 

On reviewing the whole process it has to be said that whilst new lessons have been learned, nothing deviates from the very first rule of listening to your client’s requirements, understanding their wishes and helping them achieve their goals with your expertise.

The story does not end here...

A further five van loads have been removed from the outbuildings of Newbold Pacey Hall and will be sold in a collective sale at The Grantham Auction Rooms on Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th April 2021.


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