Is Chinese furniture taking off in the regions?

opinion hl

There have been some interesting results for Chinese furniture sold in the regions over the last few weeks. Generally recognised as being something of a slow market, furniture is maybe about to take off in a big way.

We wrote last week about an undistinguished and damaged 19th century marble-topped console table which, inclusive of premium, got almost £25,000 at Lindsay Burns in Perth.

Also last week, we ourselves decided to bid on a rather nice padouk ‘throne chair’ (i.e. it was big, big enough for two Chinamen, as the auctioneers, Hartleys of Ilkley in Yorkshire pointed out). It wasn’t actually a throne but it had some agreeable features and we thought we would go into the low thousands for it. It was estimated at £400-600.

We entered the bidding online at £700; the next bid came up and, as I had anticipated, it looked like £800. Only after I had pressed the BID button did I realise, somewhat belatedly, that I had bid £8,000! Somehow the bidding had increased with one bid from £700 to £8,000! I heard the auctioneer, who was clearly as surprised as I was, saying ‘What’s going on?’.

Fortuitously, because I did not really want it enough to pay that sort of money, a bid rapidly came in at £8,500; then another and it was quickly knocked down at £9,500 . . . A lot of money, old boy, for something that was nice but far from unique. A pity, I really fliked that red cushion so redolent of the former owner’s many hours of seated pleasure! A case of On Ilkla Moor Ba’tat . . .

And a lesson to be rather more careful with that internet bidding.

Hartleys chair with cushion

Knocked down at Hartleys, Ilkley, for £9,500 hammer including the red cushion

 

19th century Chinese console table flies high in Perth saleroom

Lindsay Burns lot 81

A 19th century Chinese console table substantially exceeded expectations September 5 in Perth, Scotland, at Lindsay Burns’ Antiques and Fine Art Sale. It was one of a large number of lots of Chinese furniture: estimated at £4-6,000 (which seemed rather  optimistic to us), it was knocked down, after a long contest between two telephone bidders, at £19,500 hammer. Lindsay Burns were tight lipped on the matter of the successful purchaser apart from saying it went to ‘a private buyer’ and not to the trade.

At 152 x 76.5 x 63cm. it was certainly a substantial piece of heavy furniture and was intricately carved in dark wood and with a mottled red and white marble insert (typical of all those ubiquitous 19th century low urn stands and jardiniere stands). Otherwise, it was fairly undistinguished, there was some small damage to the wood and serious damage to the marble top in the form of a couple of cracks running through its entire width.

It emanated most probably from central/Highland Scotland and it is, of course, entirely possible that it enjoyed some previous outstanding provenance identified by the bidders. Otherwise, the reasoning behind an inclusive cost of £25,000 is puzzling . . .

Lindsay Burns lot 81a