Century old bottle of wine goes under hammer


A single bottle of Château Mouton Rothschild 1916 could achieve £2,000 or more

A single bottle of Château Mouton Rothschild 1916 could achieve £2,000 or more

A bottle of fine wine, nearly a century old, will be going under the hammer at a Cotswold auction house next week.

The single bottle of Château Mouton Rothschild 1916 – a premier grand cru from one of the best vineyards in France – is expected to make between £800 and £1,200 when it is offered for sale at Moore Allen & Innocent in Cirencester on Friday, May 24.

But with wine merchants selling examples of the rare vintage for £2,000 or more, auctioneers admit the estimate could be on the conservative side.

The wine was bottled in the year that Paris was bombed by German zeppelins and the first shots of the Battle of the Somme were fired. François Mitterrand, future President of France, was born in that year, while the celebrated racing car driver Georges Boillot breathed his last when his plane was shot down in a dogfight over Verdun-sur-Meuse.

The bottle is part of a large wines and ports section: a specialism for which the auction house has built a reputation since first selling vintage wines at its pre-Christmas auction in 2007.

Other notable vintages include two bottles of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild Pauillac 1981, which are expected to achieve £200 to £300 each, and ports by famous names like Ferreira and Dows from the vintage years of 1977, 1981 and 1983.

Opening with fine wines from France, the sale has a distinctly international flavour. From Russia comes a rare 19th century porcelain figurine from the Gardner factory in Moscow, which was founded by the English merchant Francis Gardner in 1766.

Depicting a woman picking up her bottle-clutching husband, who looks like he has spent too much time in the wines section, the ceramic is likely to achieve £500 to £800, reflecting the healthy state of the Russian antiques market.

In antiques the big money, of course, is in China and the auctioneers have put a modest estimate of £500 to £800 on a pair of damaged vases from the 18th century Kangxi period, decorated with lilies and butterflies and standing at 23cm tall.

A little repair work – or even quite a lot of it – has not stopped Chinese art collectors bidding big bucks in the past couple of years, with hammer prices in the tens of thousands achieved.

A large collection of clocks includes examples from all over the world, including China (£500 to £800), Turkey (£200 to £300) and Victorian England, where an ebonised and brass mounted clock, with an estimate of £1,000 to £1,500, plays the Westminster chime on eight bells – or in layman’s terms, bongs the Big Ben tune.

From Germany comes a small collection of interesting weapons: a circa 1600 metre-long rapier by Johannes Moum of Solingen (estimate £300 to £500) and a 17th century sporting crossbow, perhaps once used to fell boar in the Black Forest, which carries an estimate of £1,500 to £2,000.

A hunting quarry is also the subject of a piece of Dieppe carved ivory, measuring 17cm by 12cm. The intricately carved 19th century piece features a fox amongst a brood of hens, with its jaws around the neck of one unfortunate chicken. It carries an estimate of £500 to £800.

Back across the Channel, a circa 1760 West Country chair, with ash spindles, fruitwood arms, elm seat and ash legs is expected to achieve £800 to £1,200.

From Cornwall, an early piece by the father of the studio pottery movement, Bernard Leach, is expected to make £400 to £600. Fired in around 1940, the 26cm tall ovoid vase is signed ‘BL’ and bears the early St Ives impress ‘SI’.

And from the auctioneers’ own doorstep is a contemporary piece of pottery, Triple Pea Pod II by Kate Malone (£500 to £800), once a familiar name and face at Brewery Arts in Cirencester, now a ceramicist of international repute.

And to wrap up the international theme, one of the most unusual lots of the day recalls the age of maritime exploration. An 18th century brass universal equinoctial ring dial – once used for navigation aboard sailing ships, now beloved of collectors – carries an estimate of £500 to £800.

For a full auction catalogue, log on to www.mooreallen.co.uk

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