It seems a bit bold to begin the 30th anniversary year of the launch of this column with a look to the future, but why not?
Having largely neglected (or side-stepped) online selling platforms for three decades, I illustrate the most expensive single item currently available on eBay if a search is made across its entire website for the word ‘Scotland.’
The priciest of the 600,000 Scottish objects on offer is, fortuitously, from Perthshire.
This is the Breadalbane Basket from Taymouth Castle, a 250-year-old presentation silver basket of outstanding proportions and decoration.
The basket measures 16 inches across and weighs just under 5lb. It is constructed of cast, raised, moulded, pierced and engraved sterling silver. Its London hallmarks are worn but discernible, but it is believed to predate 1760 from the evidence of two identical baskets – one of them on permanent display at the V&A in London.
The V&A example, similarly decorated with fantastical fairies and insects on the outer rim, and previously thought to be unique, was made by William Cripps in London in 1744. Another basket has since been discovered in New York, with dates for 1750.
The sellers of the eBay basket now believe the most logical date for its creation is 1758, also by William Cripps, and as a wedding gift to Colin and Elizabeth Campbell of Taymouth Castle. It was obviously a gift from someone of great wealth, and the sellers believe it could have been presented by King George II.
The basket is offered by a business in Washington which specialises in historically significant pieces of art. Its price is $3,500,000, approximately £2.6 million.
Adds new meaning to the internet expression ‘add to basket’!
Picture: Georgian silver basket, £2.6 million (eBay).