A rare flask from the renowned Victorian architect, William Burges made an increase of 172.2% on estimate at a sale in Wiltshire, UK yesterday (May 16).
The flask was designed by Burges in tribute to his top student, Sir Thomas Manly Deane, who also enjoyed success as an architect during the late 1800s. The piece bears the inscription "W Burges in Remembrance of Tommy Deane his pupil MDCCCLXXIV" in medieval script around the base.
Burges is best known for his magnificent buildings, however he frequently designed pieces of metalwork and jewellery, which he funded from the proceeds of his architectural work. The whereabouts of many of these pieces are unknown, with the designs that were left behind providing just a tantalising glimpse.
One particular work from Burges, an elephant ink stand, which has been described as "the very epitome of its creator's special genius", is still missing and may sell for thousands at auction, should it be found.
The turquoise flask was brought to auction after mysteriously turning up in a Wiltshire home, with the auction house apparently baffled as to how it got there.
Sue Owen from Harrison Auctions Ltd commented: "The item was in the contents of a local small bungalow, the occupier had recently passed away and left everything to his cleaner and two other people, he had no family. We noticed the words inscribed around the base and saw it was by William Burges".
After discovering the item's design was held with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, auctioneers raised its estimate from £8,000-12,000 to at least £18,000 ($28,604).
Even this raise proved to be a modest sum, with the flask's superb domed cloisonné cover and intricate wirework attracting a sale price of £49,000 ($77,787) in yesterday's sale.
For further information on this exciting sale, read Paul Fraser Collectibles' preview here.