Tea was once a luxury. Its price, heavily taxed, placed it beyond all but the well-to-do. The Female Spectator in 1745 declared that the tea table “costs more to support than would maintain two children and a nurse.”
From the late 1700s, venture capitalists took advantage of Dundee’s outstanding location for Baltic trade. Shipping records show regular connections to Archangel for flax from the growing areas north of Moscow, large imports from St Petersburg when the White Sea was frozen, and quantities of cheaper flax from Latvia and Estonia, shipped through Riga.
THERE’S RARE and there’s special. So when Glasgow auctioneers McTear’s described an 18th century 18 carat gold key wind pocket watch as rare, they weren’t fibbing. Key wound watches from anywhere in the 1700s are uncommon.
We could argue all day about the world’s rarest book. Audubon’s Birds of America tends to fetch mega-money. A copy was sold by Christie’s New York on June 14 for £6.24 million, and even that was not its auction record. But if a first of a Shakespeare first folio came up…who knows?
Sold by French auction house Thierry de Maigret in Paris last month was a striking 16th Century men’s leather doublet, or in their words, ‘très rare pourpoint de gentilhomme en chamois brodé, France, vers 1580-1600’.
A suberb Chinese 18th Century blue and white Tianqiuping porcelain vase with Dundee connections made a small fortune when it appeared at the Ma San Auctions in Bath on June 6.
Today's pictures shows an opulently-illuminated manuscript on parchment written and illustrated in Florence around 1490.
DESPITE HAVING spent my entire working life with typewriter then computer, I have mustered only two great claims to literary immortality. One was being featured in a Norwegian newspaper crossword – Clue 7 Across. The second is writing a script for Pansy Potter, the famous strongman’s daughter of comics fame.
Swann Galleries in New York inadvertently achieved one of the highest prices ever paid for a British poster last month when they knocked down a wonderful London Underground promotional example for the equivalent of £90,000.
CHORLEY’S AUCTIONS of Gloucester are the latest saleroom to take a five-figure sum for the work of the ceramicist Dame Lucie Rie (1902-1995).