Smiths Newent Auctions have ended up with a larger sale than planned with over 1,350 lots on offer on April 4-5. After a quiet start, a flood of entries all suddenly arrived at the saleroom at the last minute, causing a flurry of activity to get everything catalogued and photographed in time for the catalogue upload on March 22.

The sale includes a special section for silver and jewellery and this sale seems to have attracted an exceptionally large number of antique jewellery entries which are highly saleable at auction. Collectors are very keen, and willing to pay high prices, for desirable pieces such as Georgian and Victorian mourning jewellery, antique paste, Scandinavian enamel, Scottish stone set jewellery etc. Many of the buyers bid for these items online and Smiths keep their in house postage costs to a minimum in order to facilitate this.

The silver section also includes a wide selection of small collectable items which are actually far more popular than larger items of silver which are sadly often only bought for their scrap value. A beautiful quality early Victorian melon form teapot with bud and foliage finial proves to be the exception and is estimated at £300/£500 whilst a set of six early 18th century ‘rat tail’ tablespoons are estimated at £400/£600. The spoons are made of Britannia silver which was produced between 1697 and 1720 due to a shortage of silver causing silversmiths to clip the silver from the edges of coins – an act of treason!

The problem was solved by enforcing a higher standard of purity for ‘worked’ items of silver which were hallmarked by a seated figure of Britannia rather than the silver lion which is used for sterling silver. The law was very unpopular, and the usual standard was restored in 1720 – making Britannia silver items extremely rare and sought after. The ‘rat tail’ refers to a raised tapered line that runs down the back of the bowl of the spoon which was used to add strength – particularly since the higher grade of silver made the items softer and more vulnerable to damage.

sweing machine
Ab early Willow & Gibbs sewing machine (Smiths)

Elsewhere in the sale there is a large selection of fascinating collectables including a Gibbs and Willcox early sewing machine estimated at £100/£150, a charming Welsh 18th century love spoon estimated at £60/£80 (despite some damage) and a fine quality Victorian brass lantern clock with three train movement estimated at £300/£500. These clocks were originally made in the 17th century, but original examples are so rare that Victorian copies are also quite popular.

lantern clock
Triple Fusee lantern clock (Smiths)

A very large ceramics sections boasts a good range of fine dinner ware and decorative tea ware as well as decorative ware such as vases and figures. One of the most eye catching entries is a stunning collection of Wemyss style cats made by Griselda Hill who originally worked for the Wemyss factory before it closed down for many years. Griselda has now started up production again in Fife, in partnership with one of the painters who also originally worked for Wemyss in their later pottery down in Bovey Tracey. Their wares are a new take, but essentially based on, the traditional fun and brightly coloured pottery produced by Wemyss. Smiths have been asked to sell a group of five cats and a large pig – all estimated at £100/£150 each.

Cats and pig pottery
Selection of Wemyss (Smiths)

Smiths fully illustrated catalogue will be online from March 22 and viewing in the saleroom will be on April 2-3 between 10am-5pm as well as on the morning of the sales.

Smiths will be accepting items for their May antique sale from April 11-29. The sale includes a wide range of antiques and collectables as well as a special section for Oriental items. Smiths are also inviting coins, notes, postcards and high value stamps for their June sale. Please telephone 01531 821776 for an appointment or visit for further information.