Rocking horse gallops to fine auction finish

A rare rocking horse by one of the top 19th-early 20th century makers, FH Ayres of London, left quite a lot to be desired but raced away at Adam Partridge’s (15% buyer’s premium) Macclesfield sale on November 23.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Terence Ryle

FH Ayres rocking horse – £5600 at Adam Partridge.

The 3ft 5in (1.05m) tall toy was catalogued as ‘sold as seen’ with replaced saddle and tack and with other components and overall condition ‘to be judged by potential bidder’. Nevertheless, it was stamped with the esteemed maker’s mark to the base and the number 1 to the forehead and was pitched at £4500-5500.

FH Ayres’ distinctive horses included ones with swivel heads such as this and were made from the middle of the 19th century until 1940. By then the firm had diversified into sporting pieces including tennis racquets, and it was taken over by Slazenger in 1940.

The legacy of the firm which claimed to make the finest rocking horses in the world lives on. Its horses have been reproduced and restored by craftsmen at Stevenson Bros in Bethersden, Kent, for the past 35 years. Nowadays these sell at upmarket outlets from London to Pennsylvania and Abu Dhabi at prices from around £2700-5500.

The well-worn original at the Cheshire saleroom sold for £5600.