The Russians are coming – and they want their antiques Back in the USSR.
That’s the message from auctioneers Moore Allen & Innocent who are expecting significant interest from Russian collectors when antiques from the motherland go under the hammer in the Cotswolds next week.
Like the Chinese before them, the recently elevated economic position of their country means Russian collectors are in a position to reacquire treasures lost to them during and following the revolution almost a century ago.
Among the best of the Russian artefacts appearing at Moore Allen’s selected antiques sale on Friday, September 30 is a porcelain figure of a peasant woman by Natalya Danko, dated 1918-1923, monogrammed KHT and stamped with the Communist hammer and sickle.
Standing at 26cm high, the figurine is probably worth more than the peasant on whom she was modelled – an estimate of £1,000 to £1,500 has been put on the piece, while a similar porcelain peasant woman, who comes without the stamps and signatures, is valued at £300 to £500.
If Russian collectors are successful in their bid to repatriate national treasures, no doubt a bottle of vodka will be cracked open somewhere, with successful bidders toasting each other ‘na zdorovje!’ And how better to raise a glass than with a set of twelve 84 Zolotnick standard vodka tots?
The shot cups – which come with the double benefit of being Russian and made in silver – were crafted in Moscow in 1864 and are contained within a black leather fitted case bearing the renowned Faberge retail mark. The lot carries an estimate of £1,000 to £1,500.
Back in the USSR, of course, is the track that opens The Beatles’ seminal 1968 LP The White Album, and the signatures of John Lennon and George Harrison, alongside luminaries of the 1960s entertainments world including Hank Marvin, Matt Monroe, Jess Conrad and Charlie Drake, appear in an autograph album that will be sold with an asking price of £200 to £300.
The Russians may have deposed their royal family, but we were happy for ours to stay so long as they sent the occasional loyal subject a Christmas card – several of which will be going under the hammer.
A Christmas 1935 card signed by Prince Albert and Princess Elizabeth, a George VI and Queen Elizabeth 1944 Christmas Card with handwritten message, and a signed George VI and Queen Elizabeth 1945 Christmas Card each carries an estimate of £150 to £200.
A George VI and Queen Elizabeth Christmas Card depicting the royal couple standing among the rubble of Buckingham Palace in September 1940 – a cheerful festive picture if ever there was one – together with three royal marriage orders of service, including HRH The Princess Elizabeth with Lt Philip Mountbatten, carries an estimate of £150 to £250.
And a Christmas card signed by Charles and Diana with a family portrait of the two young princes seated upon a pony, together with a commemorative Charles and Diana cake box inscribed Buckingham Palace 29 July 1981, carries a £200 to £300 estimate.
Intricately carved ivory is also a running theme, with no fewer than nine ivory carvings in the sale. Among the best is a 19th century Dieppe carved ivory panel in three dimensions depicting two figures holding hands with guests dancing behind them in an Elizabethan style interior with musicians on a balcony.
Measuring just 17cm wide by 9cm tall, auctioneer Philip Allwood can’t stop enthusing about the piece. “It’s just amazing,” he said. “You can go right into the party – it’s happening.” A bid of £1,000 to £1,500 should secure the lot.
Being sold alongside is a pair of 19th century oval carved ivory panels, each in high relief, one depicting Christ preaching to elders, the other with Christ being baptised by John the Baptist. Each oval measures 10cm wide by 7.5cm at its tallest point, and the pair carry an estimate of £800 to £1,200.
From the smallest most delicate items to the largest, and the furniture section carries a wide selection of fine antiques.
Among the most noteworthy is a pair of Italian 18th century walnut tables in the baroque style, which have been hewn from what would originally have been a single table. Each leg takes the form of a god holding up a frieze of classical figures emblematic of the four seasons. The pair carries an estimate of £2,000 to £3,000.
Another piece of furniture that has undergone some surgery is a 19th century Continental tortoiseshell and ebonised table top cabinet in the 17th century manner.
“This has almost certainly been in a different form at some time – the outside is probably from a big cabinet and the frontage has some age,” said Philip. Bids of between £800 to £1,200 are expected.
For a full auction catalogue, log on to www.mooreallen.co.uk