Royal gift from Augustus the Strong sold at Bonhams for a King's ransom

The Delphinium Collection
a private British collection of 18th century Meissen
20 Mar 2013
London, New Bond Street

The Delphium Collection which sold on March 20 at Bonhams New Bond Street was a ringing success for the Bonhams Ceramics Department. The sale made an outstanding figure of £639,538, exceeding all expectation with a record-breaking 92% of the offered lots sold.

The top two lots sold were a particular triumph, almost doubling their pre-sale estimates. Lot 45, a Meissen tea and coffee service (circa 1726/28) was the biggest success, selling at £121,250. Following closely behind was the very rare Meissen Augustus Rex bottle vase, circa 1730, which sold for £115,250 having been predicted to sell for between £60,000 and £80,000.

The beautiful tea and coffee service from the 1720s began its life as a gift from Augustus the Strong to Sir William Strickland, Fourth Baronet (c.1686-1735) who was Secretary at War to King George II. It demonstrates Augustus' obsessions with porcelain, and is painted with unusual scenes depicting figures in harbour and estuary settings, each within a gilded border embellished with iron-red and purple miniature figurines, decorated by sprigs of small flowers. The bottle vase was also made for the Court of Augustus the Strong.

Other notable results from the sale include: a very rare yellow-ground Augustus Rex vase from the 1730s which sold for £97,250, as well as a two-handled jar and cover of the late 1720s, selling for £42,050. The only other known example of this shape is kept in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Bonhams Head of European Ceramics, Nette Megens, comments "The Ceramics Department is extremely pleased with the results of the sale. The outcome reveals that Bonhams continues to lead the field, and is valued for its strong expertise. The sale attracted many international buyers, particularly those with a specialist knowledge in ceramics who were excited by the unexpected discovery of the Delphinium Collection. We hope that the strong interest in the sale bodes well for the forthcoming sale of the Marouf Collection Part II in May".


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

  1. Nette Megens
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8348
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 8252

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