Posted on 1st June 2018

A pair of porcelain parrots flew way above their modest £100-£150 estimate when they sold for a staggering £16,000 at our recent Fine Art Sale. 

Interest in the lot escalated when it was thought that the birds may have originated from the famous 18th century Bow porcelain factory in Stratford-le-Bow, Essex – one of the pioneers of early soft-paste porcelain in Great Britain. The factory was at its most active between 1747 and 1764, before finally closing in 1776, and any existing examples of its work are now highly sought after. 

The birds themselves were made from English soft-paste porcelain and beautifully decorated with enamels and modeled with a fruit in one claw. Perched on a base covered with flowers and puce highlighted rococo scrolls and shells, the tallest figure was 17cm high. 

Without adequate proof, we were unable to attach any provenance to the birds but due to the global reach of the Internet our lots get scrutinized by a world-wide audience and, as is often the case at auctions, bidders draw their own conclusions. 

The Bow factory was particularly renowned for its high output of porcelain figures, some of considerable originality – for example those representing statesmen, generals and actors, as well as bird and animal models, all produced in the old Rococo style. 

The parrots were among several lots that achieved headline prices at the Fine Art Sale. A 19th century Japanese wood netsuke of two rabbits in a boat sold for £4,000, smashing its guide price of £300-£500; and a Queen Anne Britannia standard silver tankard, made by Timothy Ley of London in 1710 was knocked down for £4,200, exceeding its £2,000-£3,000 estimate. 

Fine jewellery also performed very well with a diamond brooch in a geometric stylized mount selling for £7,000 – comfortably within its guide price range of £6,000-£8,000 – and a diamond ring sold for £10,000, meeting its estimate of £10,000-£15,000.

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