Most successful ever sale at Bellmans Sussex

Bellmans Auctioneers Sussex Saleroom enjoyed phenomenal successes at their May Antiques and Interiors auction, achieving their highest ever hammer total of over £600,000.  

The star lot of the auction was a beautiful single stone diamond ring weighing 5.43cts, which realized £25,000. It was consigned at one of Bellmans open valuation days (held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at their Sussex Saleroom), and Managing Director Jonathan Pratt, who received and catalogued the lot, commented “it has been a privilege to oversee the auction process for this outstanding gem, from when it was initially consigned at our valuation day, to the hammer going down at the auction. It is a great testament to the staff at Bellmans, showing that pieces of such worth can realize their market value outside of London”. 

25k ring

May's eagerly anticipated specialist clocks section featured one hundred lots of carriage, mantel and bracket, lantern and longcase clocks, with examples dating from the 17th to the 21st century. The stand-out lot was a French ormolu-mounted, brown tortoiseshell, ebony and boulle barometre à pyramidein the Louis XIV style, created after a model by André-Charles Boulle, dating from the second half of the 19th century. It exceeded its upper estimate to sell for a hammer price of £8,600.  A French cloisonné three-panel enamel grande and petite sonnerie carriage clock by Drocourt, circa 1890, also surpassed expectations to realise £7,800. Philip Belcher, Senior Director at Bellmans, who curated the sale, commented “clients from the UK and Europe eagerly supported the sale, in the room and online, eager to secure their choice from approximately 100 clocks, with items spanning across four centuries.  We were delighted with the outcome, selling approximately 90% by lot and exceeding our high pre-sale estimate.  We look forward to our next specialised clock sale in the autumn”.

The consistently highly achieving Asian Work of Art department also enjoyed outstanding results, including a set of four small Chinese famille-rose porcelain panels, which were sold for £9,500. Consigned by a private local vendor, the delicate plaques were signed by artist Wang Xiliang and dated from 1951, and featured timelessly subtle paintings of figures in landscapes beneath calligraphy. 

Leading the day in the paintings and prints section was the 2005 screenprint “Grin Reaper” by street artist Banksy. One of the artist’s most iconic images, showing the face of death as a friendly acid house smiley face, it attracted interest from across Europe and America, and sold in the room against four telephone bidders for the upper estimate price of £15,000. Interestingly, some of the highest hammer prices were reserved for works by female artists. Consigned by a private vendor in London, the oil painting ‘Shire Horse’ by illustrator, teacher and painter Lucy Kemp-Welch saw eight telephone bidders fighting against online bidders and the room. It soared past its £2,000-3,000 estimate and sold for £12,000. ‘The Gala Coach’, an 18th century revival scene by Venetian artist Emma Ciardi, again exceeded its pre-sale estimate of £1,500-2,500, selling for £6,200. The picture had been inherited by a local vendor, whose grandmother used to go to Monte Carlo once a year and play at the casinos. If she had a winning spree she would treat herself with either a piece of furniture or, as in this case, a painting. 

gala coach

Bellmans Sussex are currently accepting consignments for their monthly four day auctions, the next of which will take place on 10th – 15th June. For more information, please contact Bellmans directly on 01403 700858 or email