Extraordinary Napoleonic ephemera and Marie Antoinette’s lace collar features in Chorley’s July Sale

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Extraordinary Napoleonic ephemera and Marie Antoinette’s lace collar features in Chorley’s July Sale

Auction: Wednesday 22 & Thursday 23 July 2020

Viewing dates: Sunday 19 July 10am – 4pm, Monday 20 July 9am – 4pm, Tuesday 21 July 9am – 4pm

Chorley’s July sale sees an extraordinary and diverse offer, for historians to bibliophiles and collectors of Napoleonic treasures through to Asian antiques.

Paxford House

The auction features the contents of Paxford House (the estate of Thomas Odling), including many items that have been in the family for generations and the house in Chipping Campden was in the ownership of the Odling Family for almost 100 years.

Lot 1014, Collection of sailors’ valentines
Lot 1014, Collection of sailors’ valentines

The most notable member of the Odling family, Sir Richard Stendale-Bennett, would have owned several of the music scores that adorned the shelves of the library, some bearing his autograph and annotated comments to the margins.  Sir Richard, Thomas Odling’s great grandfather, was an English composer, pianist, conductor and music educator. At the age of ten Bennett was admitted to the London Royal Academy of Music where he remained for ten years. By the age of twenty, he had begun to make a reputation as a concert pianist, and his compositions received high praise.

Lot 1027, group of lace collars
Lot 1027, group of lace collars

Among those impressed by Bennett was the German born British composer Felix Mendelssohn, who invited him to Leipzig. There Bennett became friendly with Robert Schumann, who shared Mendelssohn’s admiration for his compositions. Bennett spent three winters composing and performing in Leipzig and whilst in England enhanced his musical career through composition, conducting and teaching at the Royal Academy, becoming one of the most respected musicians of the 19th century.

Key items in the sale include:

  • Books in the Paxford House Library which may well have been used by Sterndale- Bennett whilst editing works by the great composers of the 17th and 18th century, including the 1760 copy of The Life of Handel by John Mainwaring, £180-220.
  • Other important books in the library include Falconry in the Valley of the Indus (1852) by Sir Richard Burton
  • A third edition of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in six volumes 1777, by Edward Gibbon
  • Many books on political history and a large section on French history including many on Napoleon
  • Travel books including 17 volumes of the Works of Jonathan Swift published in Dublin in 1767, expected to realise between £3,000 and 4,000.
  • A bureau bookcase – this 19th century Anglo-Chinese piece is in the late 18th Century English style but made of rosewood, possibly Huanghuali, and even has the Chinese character marks under the bureau drawers which denote where each one fits. Probably made in Canton the estimate is £1000-1500. 
  • Two Rowing Blades won by Thomas Odling’s father, William, for the Worcester College Eights, 1898 and 1899. Although in a well worn state they are still expected to achieve £200-300.

Other items

Lot 881, Still life by Edward Ladell (British 1821-1886)
Lot 881, Still life by Edward Ladell (British 1821-1886)

Chorley’s summer sale not only includes the contents of Paxford House but also the contents of a flat in Hurlingham and a Bath townhouse.  Lots include:

  • Lot 881 is a finely observed still life by Edward Ladell (British 1821-1886) an artist who achieved enormous success and recognition in his own lifetime and is considered the leading still-life painter of his generation. The painting shows a silver tazza, a glass rummer and a variety of fruit on a ledge and asks £6000 – 8000. 
  • Lot 915 is a pair of racehorse portraits by Alfred Wheeler (British 1851-1932) which can be identified from the inscriptions as Ladas and Diamond Jubilee – Ladas with jockey in the colours of the Earl of Rosebery while Diamond Jubilees is on the Queen’s colours. Diamond Jubilee won the coveted Triple Crown in 1900, estimate £1500 – 2000
  • One of the most fascinating lots on offer is lot 1014 a collection of sailors’ valentines. These love tokens were brought back by sailors from their travels and produced as souvenirs in coastal towns both in Britain and abroad.  The present lot has many with printed backgrounds depicting harbour towns estimate £600-800.
  • Lot 1027 is a group of lace collars, one of which is a fine late 18th Century Brussels lace collar reputed to have been worn by Marie Antoinette. Estimated at £150-200

Asian art

  • Highlights of the 100 lot section include Meiji era bronzes from Japan and Chinese and Japanese porcelain and pottery including pieces from the Song and Tang dynasties.
  • One of the earliest items is Lot 219 a Tang dynasty equestrian figure in a rare sancai and blue glaze. This was in the collection of Irene and Earl Morse sold at Sotheby’s New York, in 1986 and was also in the exhibition A Thousand Years of Chinese Tomb Sculpture in Orlando, 1983.  A rare and decorative item with good provenance it is estimated at £10,000-15,000.
  • A more recent item is Lot 248 a fine Japanese bronze which dates to the Meiji era (1868-1912). This Tokyo School ‘table group’ by Udagawa Kazuo depicts a mother seated on a bench holding her child and eating from a rice box, it measures an impressive 57cm high.  This is of museum quality and an example of this group can be found in the Ashmolean Museum, estimate £5000-8000.
  • Chinese porcelain is one of the most exciting collecting areas and Lot 254, a pair of bottle vases will be sure to attract attention.Dating to the Kangxi period (1654-1722) the pair were spotted on a routine valuation in London and are expected to achieve £1000-1500. They are part of a group of related ceramics bearing what looks like a ‘G’ to the underside.  It is the subject of conjecture whether the G is the initial of a western client who commissioned the items, a D copied erroneously from Delftwares or (when turned through 90 degrees) the Persian letter ye. The design of these vases could well suggest that they were made for a Persian or Mughal Indian patron.
  • Among the Japanese ceramics the standout lot is a Kakiemon water dropper modelled as a Chinese boy sitting on a drum. Related water droppers modelled as boys can be found in museums and important collections including the Avery Brundage Collection at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.  Lot 259, estimated £1500 – 2000.


Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington were two of the most significant figures of the 19th century.  Their successes, failures and battles have been the subject of thousands of books, paintings and opinions. A private collection of Napoleon ephemera on sale includes fine bronzes and ceramics to books and prints, including:

  • Lot 992 is a bronze depicting the young Napoleon while at military school. It was here that he developed an interest in arithmetic, geometry and history and he is depicted standing by a globe and holding a book in one hand, estimate £1200-1500.
  • Lot 988 is a less flattering item, an English pearlware jug with a scene of ‘John Bull Shewing the Corsican Monkey’ here Napoleon is depicted as a fierce monkey astride a bear led by a corpulent John Bull, a piece of grotesque period satire it is estimated at £300-500.
  • From another source an interesting coquilla nut cup is carved with the letter N, a portrait and eagle, this bears a plaque in French which translates as ‘Napoleon used this as a drinking cup during the Battle of the Pyramids’ estimate £600-800.
  • Items of Wellington interest can be found elsewhere in the sale. Lot 489 is a 17th Century curiosity cabinet with panelled lapis front that was last offered by Christies in their sale of items from the estate of Brigadier Arthur Valerian Wellesley, 8th Duke of Wellington, K.G, (1915-2014) and Diana Ruth, Nee McConnel, Duchess of Wellington, (1922-2010).  The cabinet was probably acquired by the 7th Duke during his time in Rome.  Estimated at £3,000-5,000 this is a rare item and with a provenance to match.
  • The first Duke also gave his name to a piece of furniture, the Wellington Chest. This is a popular form and lot 428 is a typical rosewood example with secretaire drawer, estimate £500-700. 
  • The furniture section also includes a fine dressing table attributed to George Bullock, Lot 496. This example in mahogany with ebony lines is very similar in design to the furniture supplied by George Bullock to furnish Longwood House, St. Helena, Napoleon’s home in exile.  A restrained piece of top quality it is estimated at £2000-3000.


Chorley’s is a UK auction house, based in the Cotswolds. With a wealth of experience and expertise, Chorley’s conducts high value antiques and art sales and undertakes professional valuation work for private and corporate clients. The firm is a member of the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers (SOFAA) and the Association of Accredited Auctioneers (AAA). Chorley’s sells to an international market, through auctions held at its rooms in the beautiful grounds of Prinknash Abbey, which are broadcast live to online bidders through the online platforms including The Saleroom and Invaluable.

Chorley’s, Prinknash Abbey Park, Gloucestershire GL4 8EU UK

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