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Dartmoor’s darkest hour

The broadside condemning the massacre at Dartmoor Prison after British soldiers opened fire on American PoWs.

The broadside condemning the massacre at Dartmoor Prison after British soldiers opened fire on American PoWs.

The war was over and the PoWs looked forward to their early release and return home. Instead, their guards turned their guns on them and opened fire. Seven died and another 60 were injured in what was later dubbed a massacre.

Published in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1815, this broadside, right, which sold for £840 at Dominic Winter auctions on March 5, brought to light once more a largely forgotten tragedy, which took place at the prison on April 6, 1815.

Entitled ‘Massacre of the American Prisoners of War…’, and featuring a bird’s-eye plan of Dartmoor prison, the broadside recalls the events that took place three months after the end of hostilities that marked what we now call the War of 1812. more »

5 tiny treasures – but how many million pounds to the inch?


Chengua doucai chicken cup – 3.1in (8cm) in diameter – HK$250m/$36m/£21.5m: April 8, 2014 Sotheby’s, Hong Kong.

Around 500 years old, there are thought to be only 17 of these doucai, or chicken cups that have survived, with this being one of only four remaining in private hands. They date to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and were among the most highly desired objects even then. This example was created at the zenith of doucai production c.1465-87 and is thought to have been drunk from by the Chenghua Emperor himself.

Rating: Just over £6.93m per inch
more »

Newcombe of Arabia… T.E. Lawrence’s hero and mentor unveiled

One of the field books detailing events in the Arab Revolt of 1917 that formed part of the archive of Lieut. Col. Newcombe seen at Bonhams.

One of the field books detailing events in the Arab Revolt of 1917 that formed part of the archive of Lieut. Col. Newcombe seen at Bonhams.

We’ve all heard of Lawrence of Arabia, the hero of the Arab Revolt during the First World War. But who was Lawrence’s own hero and mentor?

An archive of journals and papers that have just come to light for the first time reveals all.

Colonel Stewart Francis Newcombe saw service in the Boer War, Egypt and the Sudan before taking charge of a survey of Southern Palestine in 1913 that had a military inspiration but was ostensibly conducted under the auspices of the Palestine Exploration Fund. more »

Food, flowers and flights – TEFAF Maastricht in numbers

Photo: Image: Loraine Bodewes

Photo: Image: Loraine Bodewes

The world’s top art and antiques fair can see hundreds of millions of pounds change hands each year as dealers welcome wealthy buyers onto their stands.

But aside from the art itself, there are some other truly astounding numbers to conjure with. Here are just a few for 2014: more »

How the £20m golden egg was laid once more

Open and shut views of the Third Imperial Fabergé Easter Egg. Its whereabouts unknown for a century, it will go on display at Wartski in the run-up to Easter.

Open and shut views of the Third Imperial Fabergé Easter Egg. Its whereabouts unknown for a century, it will go on display at Wartski in the run-up to Easter.

Only 50 were ever made. Eight have been missing for years. And only three of those were thought to have survived the Russian Revolution.

Now one of them has turned up at an antiques market in the United States. For the finder, it’s as good as a lottery win.

Seen here is the holy grail of lost Fabergé treasures, one of the Imperial Easter Eggs made for the Tsar and thought to have a value of up to £20

Acquired for a client by Mayfair jeweller Wartski, it turned up earlier this year in the American Midwest. Now the new owner has agreed that the Third Imperial Fabergé Easter Egg – its whereabouts unknown for more than a century – can go on public display in London for four days in the run-up to Easter. more »

The hare turns hunter

taxidermyTaxidermy appears to be gaining a whole new generation of fans, and it can be unusual objects such as this ‘hunting’ hare and ‘unicorns’ that add a bizarre twist to spark interest.

Both appeared as part of the Les Trois Garçons sale at Christie’s South Kensington on March 5.

Since the French restaurant Les Trois Garçons opened its fashionable Shoreditch doors in 2000, it has become as famous for its rich and flamboyant interiors as it has for the A-listers that frequent it.

Crammed into this old Victorian pub is an eccentric and chaotic mismatch of colourful objects – stuffed tiara-wearing animals, big chandeliers and birdcages, damask-upholstered chaise-longues and a diverse range of quirky antiques. more »

Figurative painter Peter Howson can’t live without us!

Antiques Trade Gazette Peter Howson

Antiques Trade Gazette fan, Peter Howson

Scottish figurative painter Peter Howson (b1958) is a recent convert to the Antiques Trade Gazette. The official war artist for the 1993 Bosnian civil war, whose powerful works reside in major collections and are favourites of celebrity such as David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Madonna, first encountered the ATG at Glasgow auctioneers McTears late last year.

The firm have a strong track record selling his pictures completing a sell-out sale of works on paper from the collection of his ex-wife Terry Howson in 2013. Captivated by the variety of art and antiques pictured and discussed in each issue, Peter was given a subscription and now looks forward to its arrival each week – as evidenced in this drawing recently presented to the team at ATG (image above right, click to enlarge). It will take pride of place in our new offices when we move from our long-established address on Shaftesbury Avenue to premises in Southwark.



A Game of Thrones first edition 1996 book cover

A Game of Thrones original book cover

A Game of Thrones first edition 1996 book cover

The HBO network television series A Game of Thrones is based on a sequence of novels by George R.R. Martin. With the series now boasting a huge cult following, first editions of the original books have considerable value. Which is all good news for dealer Simon Patterson of Hyraxia in Leeds who has in stock a first edition of book one in the series – published in 1996 when it cost £19.99. It will be priced at £495 at the annual Harrogate Book Fair held by the Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association at the Pavilions of Harrogate at the Yorkshire Showground on Friday and Saturday March 14 and 15.

Mr Patterson, who describes the book as a highlight of modern fantasy first editions, says: “A Game of Thrones has been collectable since it was first published, but saw a increase in value – from around £200 to as much as £1000 at one stage – with the success of the TV series. The first three books in the Song of Fire and Ice series are presented with stunning jacket artwork.” more »

Elvis Presley’s life in 425 records

Elvis record LSKA unique record collection charting the entire career of Elvis Presley could take as much as £20,000 at auction on March 21.

Hundreds of mint to near-mint records will be offered for sale at Lacy Scott & Knight of Bury St Edmunds. They are all part of a collection built up since the 1950s by local teacher Bill Wood. Rarities include factory-fresh HMV records as well as first pressings of all Elvis records on (sometimes shortly before) the day of release bought from the Elvis Presley Record Club (including copies of rarely seen records such as Judy/There’s Always me in 1967). more »

What makes a guitar great?

The Gerry Garcia Travis Bean TB500 (11) guitar

The Jerry Garcia Travis Bean TB500 (11) guitar

Almost identical instruments played by famous rock stars can make very different prices at auction. But why? Two recent sales threw up some clues.

The Grateful Dead have a huge following in the memorabilia market, but it is overwhelmingly US-based and centred on the late Jerry Garcia, the singer and guitarist, whose iconic status in the American pop pantheon even resulted in him having an ice cream named after him, Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.

As with many bands, iconic instruments, especially guitars, tend to be the most sought-after items, and on December 18 Bonhams (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) offered one of the two iconic Travis Bean TB500 electric guitars played continuously by Garcia during the mid to late 1970s.

Unusually, bearing in mind the US collecting bias towards the band, the vendor insisted that the guitar be offered in London. Interestingly, though, entertainment specialists Julien’s (25/20% buyer’s premium) of Beverly Hills offered the other one at their December 6 and 7 sale. more »

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