A rare jewel-encrusted flask by Arts & Crafts furniture designer William Burges has been sold for £42,000 after being discovered at a routine house clearance.
As June is the month of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, it seems fitting that one of the main items of news concerns an ornament that would look at home in any royal antique cabinet.
In Lancashire, the name of William Burges is synonymous with the finest Arts & Crafts Furniture of the Aesthetic Movement, but genuine Burges pieces are rare. However, the aptly named Jubilee Auction Rooms recently took consignment of a bejewelled memorial flask with cast-iron Burges provenance, dedicated by the craftsman to one of his pupils. The turquoise-glazed wirework piece, which has a cloisonné-domed top encrusted with semi-precious stones, features a dedication in Gothic script which reads:
“W Burges in remembrance of Tommy Deane his pupil MDCCCLXXIVW.”
Tommy Deane later became Sir Thomas Manly Deane. By 1874 – the date on the flask – he had left Burges’ and was making a name for himself as an architect, so Burges designed the flask in remembrance of his star apprentice. The original design is in the V&A museum.
Burges was a prolific architect and designer during the Gothic Revival period. His hand-painted Victorian dining chairs and antique cabinets can be seen in Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch, which he also designed. You can get inspiration by visiting Preston, where antique chests and other pieces in the Aesthetic style can be found at good antique dealers. Unlike auction rooms, they don’t charge any commission.
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