Frog salt cellars leap to great result Down Under

Silver and silver gilt salt cellars marked for maker William Henry Dee – $22,000 (£12,100) at Shapiro in Sydney.

Many of the high prices achieved at last week’s ‘celebrity’ sale titled Bob Hawke & Blanche d’Alpuget: Mementos, Curiosities, Art and Design reflected the impact of souvenir hunters, anxious to own a reminder of Australia’s former prime minister who died earlier this year. But not all of them.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Roland Arkell

This rare pair of 4in (10cm) high silver and silver gilt salt cellars modelled as anthropomorphic frogs around a water lily (above) are marked for London 1875 and the maker William Henry Dee (c.1823-96). The firm, which produced pieces for upmarket retailers such as Garrard and Asprey, is well known to connoisseurs of unusual silver novelties.

The patterns for many of his quirky models were patented, with the original designs surviving in the UK National Archives. A late entry to the Shapiro sale in Sydney on August 27 as an ‘A’ lot carrying an appealing estimate of Aus$1000-1500, these salts were hammered down at $22,000/£12,100 (plus 20% buyer’s premium). The buyer was an avid silver collector from Victoria.

More than 200 of Hawke’s possessions were offered for sale also including an Edwardian silver hip flask (James Deakin, Sheffield, 1902) engraved BH that had been a gift from his second wife Blanche d’Alpuget in 1996. It sold at Aus$6000 (£3300).