Thursday, 19 February 2015

Disposition of Antiquities from Private Collections

Valuable moggy
'Egyptian bronze cat sells for £52,000 at auction', BBC 19 February 2015
An Egyptian bronze cat that was nearly thrown in a skip has been sold at auction for £52,000. The bronze figure - thought to be 2,500 years old - was discovered in a house clearance in west Cornwall. [...] Auctioneer David Lay said the original owners had no idea of the artefact's value and were going to throw it in a skip. Mr Lay said he discovered the cat was owned by Douglas Liddell who died in 2003. He had retired to Cornwall in 1987 after being the managing director at Spink and Son, a London firm that handled sales of Egyptian antiquities.
The 26th Dynasty figure was sold for several times the pre-auction estimate, it had been expected to fetch between £5,000-10,000, but (perhaps because of the back story') was been bought by a "prominent London dealer" for £52,000. How many collectors have proper catalogues of their acquisitions allowing the identity of items to be determined after their death?

Other reports:
Pirate FM 'Ancient Egyptian Cat Statue Found Sat By Fire', 19 February 2015.

Mail Online UK, 'Bronze cat statue that grandmother kept by her fireplace was 2,500-year-old ancient Egyptian relic ', 


Judith Weingarten said...

There is an odd disconnect in this story:
According to the DailyMail, "the statue had belonged to Doreen Liddell of Penzance, Cornwall. When she died in November, her family called in Penzance Auction Rooms to clear her house – and auctioneer David Lay saw the cat.
He too initially assumed that it was a reproduction, but took it back to his office for a closer look. Only then did he realise how old it could be.
When he shared his discovery with Mrs Liddell’s family, they told him her late husband, Douglas, had once been managing director of the prestigious Spink and Son auction house in London. The firm, founded in 1666, is renowned for its sales of Ancient Egyptian artefacts."
Perhaps I have a wicked mind but Mr Liddell must have known it was genuine. Did he never tell his wife? How long was it really in the family's possession? Just asking....

lalbertson said...

Liddell surely knew it was genuine. Before his death, he worked for Spink and Son Ltd. Mr. Liddell started at the firm in 1946 and stayed on to become its managing director from 1976 until his retirement. Spink's has long been famous for its sales of Ancient Egyptian artefacts and among many others in 1939 was tasked with selling the estate of archaeologist Howard Carter, the discoverer of Tutankhamen's tomb.

Unknown said...

I read about this, most odd. Just think what treasures some people have in their homes and do not know!

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