July 20, 2008

Adding Spice to the Travelling Life

W hen Samuel Johnson accompanied James Boswell to the Scottish Isles in 1773, an innkeeper offered them mutton chops, which the travellers refused. Instead Johnson broiled a bit of one of two freshly-killed hens "until it was black", though Boswell even refused these victuals, preferring to eat a bit of bread instead.

Nowhere on their travels was there mention of spice to improve the flavour of food, as Boswell especially was a giant of a man with an appetite to match. Yet many gentlemen of the period carried their own little containers which became fashionable about this time, a couple of which appear in Rendells sale at Ashburton starting on Thursday.

To enhance the flavour of either food or drinks such as toddies, punch, etc., gentlemen would carry a small silver nutmeg grater, usually a cylindrical container with space for the nuts, or elliptical, which is more common.

A George III example of plain egg shape with steel grater and London marks for 1792 was made by Samuel Meriton II, and has a guide of pounds200-pounds300, but the cylindrical example is a later piece, by Joseph Willmore, circa 1823-1843.

This is also a little out of the ordinary as it carries a crest, having two hinged covers and steel grater. It is just 2.5in (6cm) long and bids of pounds300-pounds500 are advised, though only pounds80-pounds120 is expected for a 9in (23cm) tall silver castor weighing 8oz (249g) with Sheffield hallmarks, made in 1891.

In among the jewellery section is an 1882 American 5 gold coin and a 1911 half sovereign, calling for pounds150-pounds200, and a 1979 Krugerrand at pounds400-pounds450.

A gentleman's Breitling chronograph wristwatch will need around the pounds400-pounds600 mark, but for a really special watch, the Rolex Oyster perpetual example would prove a sounder investment. It has a white enamel dial and Arabic numerals in stainless steel, and interest of pounds1,000-pounds1,200 is asked.

A set of four 19th century porcelain figures depicting the Four Seasons are very decorative, well-modelled and painted. Standing 9.5in (24cm) tall, they have an estimate of pounds100-pounds150.

Royal Doulton's The Old Balloon Seller, registration No HN1315, is even more colourful, with a guide of pounds60-pounds80. A Coalport cabinet plate with a centre panel hand-painted with a blue tit and flowers expects pounds40-pounds60.

More unusual is the little pen wipe in the form of a cold painted bronze hedgehog at pounds60-pounds80, complete with brush. But for anyone with the space, a large antique oak court cupboard, the top with four cupboards above a two-door base will ask pounds1,500- pounds2,000. It is carved with the initials "HGM".

An 8 x 6ft (2.44m x 1.83m) 19th century pine housekeeper's cupboard has a three-door cupboard in the top, over a three-drawer and three-cupboard base. However as these are so large, there is not that much call for them so only pounds600-pounds800 is expected.

And as we all downsize, more suitable accessories will include the 19th century amboynas and brass bound decanter case and contents for pounds80-pounds120, just 8in (20cm) square.

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