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May 31, 2012, 12:53 PM

18th century gravestones fate sealed by USA bidder

By Thornton Kay

18thC gravestones from Great Bedwyn sold for 34,500 [photo Summers Place

West Sussex, UK - A collection of eighteenth century carved gravestones with a combined low estimate of 1,300 was bought for a total of 34,500 (hammer price) by sealed bid at the Summers Place auction last week - now renamed the 'Summers Place Garden Antique and Modern Sale'. The gravestones from an unknown graveyard had been mounted on the wall of Great Bedwyn post office from where they were removed to the yard of local stonemasons Lloyds who have been established in the village since 1790. All three lots of gravestones were bought by a USA bidder.

Another collection sold at the live auction, this time a run of twelve lidded compo urns made as replacements in 1935 for the decaying parapet urns on the 1805 portico by John Nash at Witley Court in Worcestershire, and unused prior to a disastrous fire there in 1937. They ended up being disposed of by English Heritage, and sold for a mid-estimate hammer price of 35,000. James Rylands of Summers Place said that the value was enhanced due to the number of urns in the run.

A 37inch high fountain figure of a lead swan, beak plumbed for water, attributed to John Van Nost, or possibly John Cheere or Andrew Carpenter) sold for 22,000 (est 10k-15k).

Many of the lots at this sale were of modern sculpture of which the top price was 90,000. And already consigned for the next sale is a head by Elizabeth Frink which will carry an estimate of around 300,000.

Overall the sale totalled 1,604,277 including premiums, even though 40 per cent remained unsold. This was not a reflection on quality or sold prices, since many of the lots sold for good prices, but more that demand was patchy and buyers exigent.

"Clients who buy at our sales pop in from time to time, they do not come to every sale. They usually have a garden project and may buy all modern pieces - such as a client at this sale who was buying modern sculpture for a project in eastern Europe or Asia (one of the 'stans') - or all antique or a combination of the two," James Rylands said.

"The new 5,000 square foot gallery at Summers Place is terrific. The trade is very appreciative. We have covered the walls in a veneer of 4ft by 2ft panels of Indian slate backed by fibreglass which looks great, and we will be selling the slate in the Summers Place Collection."

Despite the move away from fossils and further towards modern sculpture, Summers Place still has a commitment to the antique. In the great ebb and flow of taste Rylands and Werff are jockeying Summers Place for the best position in the market.

Please note: This year, owing to obligations elsewhere, James Rylands may not be making his customary appearance at Salvo Fair.

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Summers Place Auctions

Story Type:  Auction Report

ID: 66971

        
 
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