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    North German amber box made 627,250 at Sotheby;s in London on July 6. (click on image to enlarge).


    This North German amber casket bearing the arms of Prince William IV of Orange and Anne, Princess Royal of Great Britain, probably made in Danzig around 1734 goes on sale at Sotheby’s in London on July 6.

    Prince William IV of Orange (1711-1751) was a son of Johan Willem Friso, Prince of Orange, who stood to inherit the Principality of Orange under the terms of the will of William of Orange (1650-1702), popularly known as King Billy in parts of this country. He had no children.

    The beautifully crafted box was probably made to celebrate the union of Prince William IV of Orange and Anne, Princess Royal, the eldest daughter of King George II of Great Britain. Their marriage at St James’ Palace in 1734 enhanced the strong ties between Great Britain and the Netherlands. The amber from which the casket is made would have been dredged from the Baltic Sea, where it had been collected as fossilised resin from the forested land there over 100,000 years ago. Individual pieces are rarely over two inches long and this casket is made with hundreds of pieces. It is estimated to make £200,000-300,000.

    The casket is one of 21 works with exceptional provenance at Sotheby’s “Treasures” sale in July. The quality of each piece is matched by extraordinary provenance. The decorative art pieces in the sale, from porcelain to silver, snuff boxes, furniture and textiles, range in date from the 16th to the 18th century. Previous owners include Queen Marie Antoinette and the Medici Family.

    A monumental silver wine cooler weighing 168 pounds and measuring well over a meter across is reckoned by Sotheby’s to be the most important piece of English silver to come to the market in 50 years. It was made for Lord Raby when he was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary to Berlin in 1706 by Queen Anne. It is estimated to sell for £1.5 – 2.5 million, the highest estimate for any piece of English silver.

    This monumental silver wine cooler made a record 2,2505,250 at Sotheby's on July 6. (click on image to enlarge).

    An Italian engraved ivory inlaid rosewood centre table made for the Duke of Urbino Francesco Maria II Della Rovere (1549-1631), c 1596-7, and subsequently part of the collection of the Medici family is estimated at £500,000-1,000,000.

    There is  a set of three parcel gilt stools made for Queen Marie Antoinette’s Salon des Jeux at the Châteaux of Compiègne and Fontainbleau, Louis XVI, circa 1786-87 by Jean-Baptiste-Claude Séné (1748-1803). They are estimated at £150,000-250,000.

    Mario Tavella, Sotheby’s Deputy Chairman Europe, who spearheaded the sale, explained: “Someone asked me once: what makes something a treasure? I thought about it…. It struck me that, in the general course of life, encounters with real treasures happen all too rarely. And so I made it my job to set about finding them.”

    The pieces in this sale have been associated with names like Marie Antoinette, the Dukes of Devonshire, the Rothschild family, the Imperial family of Russia, the Princes Carafa of Roccella, the Duke of Urbino, the Medici family and the Earls of Macclesfield, Strafford and Dartmouth. What they share is a freshness to the market.

    UPDATE, JULY 6:  THE amber casket sold for £657,250 – well beyond its pre-sale estimate of £200,000-300,000.  The wine cooler sold for £2,505,250, establishing a new record price for English silver. T

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