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About Brian Goodison-Blanks
Brian Goodison-Blanks is the Head of the Maritime and Sporting Department at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood. He is based at Honiton in Devon.
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Disclaimer
The material published in this web log is for general purposes only. It does not constitute nor is it intended to represent professional advice. You should always seek specific professional advice in relation to particular issues. The information in this web log is provided "as is" with no warranties and confers no rights. The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions.

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Review Entries for Day Sunday, June 30, 2013

Among an interesting collection of Antique Firearms and Antique Arms & Armour consigned for Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s forthcoming Sporting & Collectors sale of 18th September 2013 is a fine example of an early 18th Century North European sporting crossbow.

 

an early 18th century north european inlaid sporting crossbow

An early 18th century North European inlaid sporting crossbow

Retaining the original string and waxed brindle of chord, the shape and inlaid decoration is typical of sporting bows used during the 18th century in shooting and hunting competitions.

First invented in Ancient China, the crossbow became more popular in Europe due to ability of novice bowmen to quickly become accurate and on target, relative to the long bow which required years of use and experience.

In excellent condition, collectors of Antique Arms & Armour will no doubt be interested in acquiring this item with a pre-sale estimate of £1,500-£2,000.

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Sunday, June 30, 2013 2:23:46 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Antique Guns & Firearms | Collectors | Honiton | Medals & Militaria | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Thursday, June 06, 2013

It had often been thought that Victorian sailors who were miles away from loved ones and feeling homesick, would while away the hours of solitude by producing shellwork valentines as a present for their betrothed upon their return.

 

a 19th century bermudan shellwork valentine

A 19th century Bermudan shellwork valentine (MA12/212)

In truth it is difficult to imagine that a burly man aboard a rolling ship would have the time and patience to sort and stick hundreds of shells in the delicate patterns that we see today at auction. The complex patterns of flowers and compass designs are increasingly popular with collectors. Usually in on octagonal case and in two sections, they can make up to £7,000 for a good example.

No doubt these valentines were gratefully received by WAGS waiting on the beach for the return of their bow. However, research has since shown that the majority of 19th shellwork valentines were in actual fact bought by sailors visiting Barbados, and were made by local women on the island. Despite the truth having been uncovered, the romantic notion of these pieces having been made aboard ship by a love struck sailor survives, as does their demand at auction. The Bermudan shellwork valentine example seen here in Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s forthcoming Maritime sale of 12th June 2013 is expected to achieve £350-£450. 

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Thursday, June 06, 2013 9:49:12 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Honiton | Maritime | Scrimshaw & Sailors Art | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Wednesday, June 05, 2013

When Herman Melville (1819-1891) wrote Moby Dick (1851), he produced not only one of the greatest works of literature, but also an important historical record of the Nantucket whaling industry in the 19th century. Included within one of Ishmael’s narratives is a reference to the art of scrimshaw or ‘scrimshander’ that is as popular today, as it was at the time of Melville’s writing. 

 

a 19th century scrimshaw decorated tooth with britannia decoration

A 19th century scrimshaw decorated tooth with Britannia decoration (MA13/227)
Estimate £200-£300

The design and decoration varies a great deal depending upon the age of the piece and of course the skill of the artist. Simple ship portraits and whaling scenes are the most common to be found for a few hundred pounds at auction, the value increasing with better detail and naming of known ships. Of course being at sea for months at a time inevitably led to more erotic scenes being produced (some even dispelling the myth that the Victorian’s were prudish!) and these can make up to several thousand pounds in a Maritime sale

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s Maritime sale of 12th June 2013, Dowell Street, Honiton has a number of pieces of scrimshaw included in the sale with varying degrees of decoration. The 19th century scrimshaw shown here (MA13/227) is a good example with an interesting interpretation of Britannia to one side and should easily surpass its pre-sale estimate of £200-£300.
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Wednesday, June 05, 2013 8:34:53 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Honiton | Maritime | Scrimshaw & Sailors Art | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Monday, June 03, 2013

The fate of the Titanic would appear to have signalled the end of an era of the great Ocean Liners and of The White Star Line in particular. However, the company survived and moved forward into the 20th century, continuing to provide a high level of service that has now become known as ‘White Star Service’. 

 

  a white star line earthenware bouillon stand

 A White Star Line earthenware bouillon stand (MA13/16)

Though the company has been through several phases since the era of the Olympic class ships by merging with its greatest rival Cunard in 1936 and remains as part of the Carnival Corporation today, collectors are still mesmerised by the majesty and beauty of some of the most famous (and infamous) ships of the White Star Fleet.

The decadence of the late Edwardian period was taken to extremes to provide the most lavish service and comfort aboard ship. Everything from the cabin fixtures and fittings, even down to a simple bouillon stand seen here (MA13/16), were chosen to remind the passengers of the sparing of no expense.

While only a few of the ships of the White Star Line remain today such as the Nomadic in Belfast, collectors are able to acquire small reminders from specialist sales such as Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood’s Maritime sale of 12th June 2013, Dowell Street , Honiton.

Even such a small piece with the iconic flag logo has the power today to evoke the power of the decadence and tragedy of a period over 100 years ago. 
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Monday, June 03, 2013 3:17:51 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Ceramics & Glassware | Honiton | Maritime | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Even having passed the bi-centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar, Lord Horatio Nelson is perhaps one of the most significant figures of English history and possibly can be considered one of the greatest Englishmen of all time.

 

orders of command signed by lord horatio nelson

Orders of Command signed by Lord Horatio Nelson (MA13/274)

This opinion is shared by many and easily justified by simply visiting Trafalgar Square or by considering the interest in a copy Nelson's signature in the forthcoming Maritime Auction on 12th June 2013 at Bearnes Hampton and Littlewood's Dowell Street Saleroom, Honiton. 

Collectors and devotees will not be deterred by the pre-sale estimate of £4,000-£5,000 in order to acquire a signature from one of history's most noted figures.  The sale also contains a number of items relating to Nelson's flagships HMS Victory and HMS Foudroyant, as well as a number of period pieces from the 'Golden Age' of sail.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013 3:58:30 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Honiton | Maritime | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Amongst the entries for the forthcoming Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood Specialist Maritime Sale on 12th June 2013  at the Dowell Street saleroom (which is currently being prepared by the Maritime and Sporting Department) are several interesting 19th century magic lantern slides of a Polar Expedition.

The only way of recording the events of such a journey would have been through the journals and sketches of the men taking part. These provide a strong sense of the intense cold and environment endured by members of the expedition. However, the colours of the lantern slides provide a rare vision of what to a 19th century explorer, must have been an awe inspiring sight.

victorian polar expedition magic lantern slide

Victorian Polar Expedition Magic lantern slide

Simply entitled ‘Mid Winter Polar Region’, a lone figure dressed in furs and skins looks towards the slumbering ships, trapped in the pack ice under a starlight sky. The scene is given a slightly sinister feel as the sun tints the ice and masts of the ships with a reddish hue. The uneasy feeling increases when you consider the fate of Sir John Franklin’s Lost Expedition of 1845 in which all hands were lost after the ship became trapped in the ice of Victoria Strait, near King William Island.

 detail of polar expedition magic lantern slide

Detail of Polar Expedition Magic lantern slide

Another slide has two small figures on the foreshore, standing and taking in the expansive icy panorama under a colourful sky. Looking closely in the middle distance you can imagine the gasps of the Victorian ladies and Gentleman attending a lecture on the expedition as the mast of a ship can just be seen behind an iceberg.

Polar Expedition Magic lantern slide

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 1:10:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Honiton | Maritime | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Wednesday, March 06, 2013

In a strange Twilight Zone sense of looking into the future auction market, it seems odd to be looking at the past future. Once you have your head around that idea it only becomes (slightly) clearer when you look at the selection of Film Memorabilia and Collectables on offer in the Sporting & Collectors Sale of 20th March 2013 at Dowell Street in Honiton. 

  alien 1979 nostromo crew shirt worn by harry dean stanton

 Alien 1979 Nostromo crew shirt worn by Harry Dean Stanton

 
In 1979 Alien captured the imagination of film fans with its disturbing look at space exploration and possible close encounters of the future. A huge box office success on its release, it seems odd today that the film is now 34 years old and we have already passed the first decade of the 21st century.
 
Film makers today now understand the commercial side of toys, collectables and Film Memorabilia that accompany any new film upon its release. In the late 1970’s however there wasn’t such thought given to merchandising and so original props, scripts and photographs from film sets are extremely desirable.   The shirt here (SC16/721) was worn by Harry Dean Stanton and is accompanied by a photograph of the cast, a photograph of Sigourney Weaver and her signature on a compliment slip. Though Harry Dean Stanton was perhaps not the most memorable character (Brett), the films popularity and cult status will still attract buyers to a classic piece of Film Memorabilia
 
It also reminds us, that whilst each generation considers itself to be the most up to date and forward thinking, it doesn’t take long before it all become another piece of nostalgia for the next generation. 
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Wednesday, March 06, 2013 3:40:16 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Honiton | Sporting | Trackback

Review Entries for Day Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One of the questions I am asked the most by clients viewing a specialist sale such as the forthcoming Sporting & Collectors sale of 20th March 2013, is ‘Where does it all come from?’  Well the answer is ‘Everywhere!’ 

a late victorian carved ivory dogs head whistle

A late Victorian carved ivory dog's head whistle 

No cupboard is left un-opened, no shed un-cluttered and certainly no attic left un-crawled through in the search for unusual and interesting items for auction. While all the searching is hard on the knees (and the dry cleaning bill), it is often a simple box of knick knacks from a drawer that clients say ‘there’s nothing in there but rubbish’ that yield a pleasant surprise. 

This small carved ivory dog’s head whistle (SC16/55) is inset with glass eyes and is wonderfully tactile. It is simply a fantastic little find from a box of oddments that were left to one side. Dating from the late 19th century it is typical of the decoration used on walking sticks and umbrellas of the period and has a wide appeal to collectors and dog enthusiasts. Even though it is only 4cm long it should fetch toward the upper end of its £100-£150 pre sale estimate and beyond. So even the smallest unassuming items can attract an auctioneer’s eye in the search for antiques, if you see a clean well dressed auctioneer they’re probably not looking hard enough!
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Wednesday, February 27, 2013 1:35:06 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #
Honiton | Sporting | Trackback

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