At first glance, it looked like the kind of brightly coloured display plate you might see on a Ribble Valley antique dining table at Christmas. However, it turned out to be a previously unrecorded 16th century Maiolica dish, which netted its owner £325,000 when it was sold at Lyon & Turnbull’s December 7th sale in Edinburgh. The upper estimate was £100,000; definitely not a dish for party nibbles.
Maiolica is a brightly painted form of tin-glazed porcelain, dating from the Italian Renaissance. Its name is thought to be derived from mediaeval name for Majorca, an important stop on the Spanish-Italian trading routes. The Edinburgh dish, dated 1537, was one of a number of Maiolica pieces dating from the 16th to the 19th century, most of which sold for reasonable sums at the sale. However, it was this particular piece which gained the most interest. Depicting a scene from Persian history, it was one of a series of istoriato plates painted by Francesco Xanto Avelli (1486-1542), the most celebrated of the Italian Maiolica artists.
Lot 14 in a sale of 420 items, this early piece of excitement paved the way for some furious bidding for furniture later on, which included antique marquetry furniture , Victorian oak pedestal desks and a number of Victorian dining chairs . Lancashire dealers weren’t just in Edinburgh for the Maiolica; a fine George IV rosewood antique bookcase, attributed to Gillows, realised £7000 against an estimate of £3000 – 5000, while a rare Chinese rosewood table went under the hammer for £15,000. An antique desk of 19th century Chinese origin also attracted attention. With an £800 – 1200 estimate, it realised £1800.
Whether buying or selling antiques, you should be sure you are dealing with a reputable auction or antiques dealer.
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