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It’s a decade since Scotland became the first region in the UK to outlaw hunting with hounds, and eight years since the Hunting Act rolled out the ban to the rest of the UK, but enthusiasm for the pastime has not waned.
In the Cotswolds, hunts continue to meet and ride to hounds, while the popular spectator sport of point-to-point racing is inextricably linked to the hunts. Meanwhile, the trade of hunting-related antiques is as popular as ever.
There’s a definite hunting theme at Moore Allen & Innocent’s auction of sporting requisites, pictures and taxidermy in Cirencester next Friday, August 31.
The cover of the auction catalogue is graced by a watercolour featuring the hounds of one of the area’s two famous hunts, the VWH.
The painting, VWH Hounds in the Kennel, depicts hounds waking in the early morning sunlight. It is dated 1946 and signed by the renowned hunting artist Michael Lyne (1912-1989). It carries an estimate of £500 to £800.
Lyne’s work is also represented in Racing Scene With Three Race Horses, an oil on canvas that commands an estimate of £1,000 to £2,000 and Huntsmen and Hounds in a Wooded Landscape, a watercolour with a £300 to £500 estimate.
The other local hunt, The Duke of Beaufort’s, is represented by a large oil painting of Henry Somerset, the eighth Duke of Beaufort on his horse. The painting, by John Alfred Wheeler (1821-1903), bears a gilded plaque inscribed “His Grace the Duke of Beaufort, President of the Bristol Constitutional Club 1885-1899 presented to the Club by George White Esq October 1899.” It is expected to achieve between £3,500 and £4,500.
Meanwhile, a watercolour painted by John King in 1987, entitled First Aid, the Beaufort at Grittleton, featuring a huntsman attending to the paw of an injured hound, while another licks its wounds, should achieve between £300 and £600.
Another renowned equestrian artist with local connections in Peter Biegel (1913-1989) who served with the Wiltshire Regiment during the war. His 1949 oil painting of a racehorse riding out, With Bright Bay Beauty That Shone Like Flame, was originally sold by the renowned taxidermist Rowland Ward of Piccadilly, and is expected to achieve £2,000 to £3,000.
A Biegel watercolour, Her First Run, a study of two jockeys on horseback, should fetch between £500 to £800 while John Daw, four horse head studies in watercolour and pencil is expected to make £400 to £600.
It wouldn’t be a sporting sale without an appearance by Charles ‘Snaffles’ Johnson Payne (1884–1967), and this sale is no exception. There are nine signed and studio stamped chromolithographs, along with five good reproductions.
Among the best of the chromolithographs are The Staff College Drag Hunt with seven cartouches, which carries an £800 to £1,200 estimate, Great Banks There Was Below in the Fields (£600 to £800) and one of his best-known works, If There Is a Paradise on Earth, It Is This! It Is This!! It Is This!!! (£400 to £600).
The hunting theme continues in the equestrian section, where one of the star lots is the Owen & Co lady’s side saddle owned and used by Eileen Boylan.
Eileen was something of a poster girl for hunting in the 1920s and 30s – she frequently appears in paintings by Gilbert Holliday – whose work is often to be found on the walls of a Moore Allen sporting sale – and she competed in point-to-point races using the side saddle too.
The saddle carries an estimate of £600 to £800, while her dark blue riding habit should achieve between £50 and £80.
Over in the taxidermy section, a leopard pelt rug bearing the label Kalloo & Sons Taxidermist, Bijnor is all that remains of a big cat that terrorised a local village before an English hunter took down the man-eating beast in 1900. It carries an estimate of £300 to £500.
A far more sedate quarry is the trio of stuffed and mounted grayling, caught locally on the River Windrush in 1986 and prepared by John Burton, taxidermist, of Chipping Campden. It carries an estimate of £400 to £600.
Meanwhile, work by the biggest name in fish taxidermy – J Cooper & Sons of Radnor Street, London – is represented by several pieces including a 2lb 9oz bream circa 1945 (£350 to £450), a perch and two tench £800 to £1,200, and a circa 1910 trout (£500 to £800). All are mounted in naturalistic settings and set in bow fronted display cases.
In the fishing section there are over 200 lots – antique and modern – of reels, rods and flies, with notable items including a Hardy two and seven-eighths trout fly reel (£200 to £300), a Hardy Silex salmon spinning reel with rim break (£200 to £250), an Alcock Ariel four spoke fishing reel (£300 to £400) and a Hardy Perfect two-and-three-quarter inch trout fly reel with 1912 check mechanism (£300 to £400).
And in the shooting section, the standout lot is a rare Hogan & Colbourne 12 bore shotgun, manufactured in Stratford Upon Avon, which should achieve between £1,500 and £2,000. The company only made shotguns between 1985 and 1988, and their firearms were indirect copies of those by Holland & Holland, which will easily make in the region of £15,000.
Meanwhile, for something more frivolous how about a mid 20th century Original Ice Hockey Game, manufactured by JP Seeburg Corporation of Chicago – a company best known for its juke boxes and soft drinks vending machines?
Much like table football, two competitors do battle over a table by twisting a brass knob to manipulate the movements of an ice hockey player. A bid of £80 to £120 should secure the painted pine table game.
For a full auction catalogue, log on to www.mooreallen.co.uk