July 6, 2008

Popular and Nostalgic Models

W ith the energy crisis showing signs of continuing all through the summer, alternative sources for heating our homes are needed before the colder months to come. As there remain coal stocks in this country still, its recovery will prove more economic and there will be many old miners prepared to retrieve it, given the chance.

Gone are the days when men were expected to carry hundredweight sacks on their backs, as demonstrated by the advertising model of a coalman in papier mche in Lays Auctions, Penzance, two-day sale starting on Thursday.

Bent double to prevent the contents of the sack falling from the open top, the coalman was a regular sight up and down the land a generation ago, when he would tip the fuel into the coalhole at the front of terraced town houses.

These men still deliver in country districts where natural gas is unavailable, sometimes carrying in similar fashion disposable plastic bags that are sealed but just as dirty somehow.

At 22.5in (57cm) high, this battered model promotes "Coal for Comfort" on the side of his sack, and many would fondly agree with the sentimental figure, which bears the registration No 792401 and has a guide of pounds100-pounds150.

Rather than request new ideas for a Cornish logo, the powers that be should look to their history and adapt, if need be, the Cornish Arms as seen on the important Newlyn documentary copper shield, inscribed on the back "Des'd by J D Mackenzie, Newlyn Industrial Class, Worked by P Hodder".

Decorated with fish, shells and seaweed, the Arms are below the inscription "One and All" and will invite interest of pounds700- pounds900 being large and heavy, measuring 18.5 x 15.5in (47 x 39.5cm).

John D Mackenzie arrived as a painter and illustrator in Newlyn in 1888, in his late 20s, but on becoming aware of the incredible hardships suffered by the fishermen and their families during the winter months when it was too dangerous to put to sea, founded the Newlyn Industrial Class to encourage the men into copper working. He remained there for the next two decades, developing what is now known as "real" Newlyn copper.

In 1895 P Hodder made a faade for the new Newlyn Art Gallery, encouraged and inspired by John Pearson, the well-known artist/ designer introduced to teach at the class. He greatly influenced everyone there, but after Mackenzie's death in 1918 the outlook changed, along with so many things.

Production of copper artefacts was not centred solely in Cornwall, of course, and an Arts & Crafts copper framed mirror will ask pounds30-pounds50 - also invited for a travelling inkwell in the form of a Gladstone bag.

More entertaining is the continental wooden inkwell in the form of a slipper from which is emerging a little cat's head with bright yellow eyes. It is 8in (20cm) by 4.75in (12cm) and interest of pounds80-pounds120 is expected, though, pounds150-pounds200 will be required by the well-modelled "Around Ye Mulberry Bush" jug by Edward Bingham from Castle Hedingham Pottery.

This business, begun by Bingham, ran from 1864 to just into the new century and was a bit of an indulgence by the owner. He was in good company, though, as at about the same time he was working in Essex Sir Edmund Elton was creating similar wares in Somerset at Clevedon Court.

Both men did as they pleased, though Sir Edmund was certainly more influential in the Arts and Crafts scene, and a more serious potter.

Nevertheless, Bingham was very fond of large pots, many being over 36in (91.5cm) high. This is nothing near that at 9in (23cm) tall, but is still intriguing with two figures creating the handle and the body with an applied blackberry branch and spout modelled as a mask.

All these fine ceramics will require a suitable resting place, like the 66in (167.5cm) wide Victorian walnut inlaid breakfront credenza with two glazed doors at either end. A panelled door in the centre has an oval ceramic panel decorated with figures in a landscape. As it is of generous proportions, interest of pounds1,000- pounds2,000 is suggested.

But ornaments would be more visible on the Victorian rosewood whatnot, possibly the most favourite piece of furniture in a 1900s home, usually cluttered with every conceivable keepsake. It has four shelves and serpentine fronts on C-scroll supports separated by carved panels, and bids of pounds500-pounds600 are anticipated.

Requiring no further decoration is an ornate Italian cabinet 15.5in (39.5cm) tall profusely inlaid with elaborate bone with ebony, yellowing with age. The fall front is engraved with a naked Venus on a dolphin, opening on nine drawers surrounding a central door, also engraved to show a woman before distant buildings, which in turn opens on four even smaller drawers.

With iron handles, this intricately made piece is 19.75in (50cm) wide and 12.25in (31cm) deep, and suggests an estimate of pounds3,000-pounds4,000.

Plenty of seats in the sale include at pounds100-pounds150 a carved oak joined chair in the 17th century style - but even more affordable are three open armchairs for pounds10-pounds20.

Presenting more interest is the pair of country-made dining chairs from the north for pounds40-pounds60, as each has backs made of horizontal splats with five balls.

In the transitional style is a set of three French open armchairs at pounds100-pounds150, though perhaps the set of four Victorian dining chairs will be of more use, and at pounds50-pounds100 and in walnut are a better investment.

A folding deck chair will require pounds40-pounds60 and a square stool from the Victorian era, on carved cabriole legs, has a guide of pounds100-pounds150 as this is also in walnut - one of the most suitable timbers for domestic furniture and less likely to split than some others.

However for the living room is a good three-piece suite offering a sofa with four ball and claw-carved winged legs. Interest of pounds400-pounds600 is invited.

To amuse young children for hours on end, there is a 19th century Windsor rocking armchair, with stick back, with interest from pounds50 suggested.

(c) 2008 Western Morning News, The Plymouth (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.