Collection of Victorian calling cards tops £8,800

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A collection of over 3,000 Victorian and early 20th-century ‘Carte de Visite’ – or calling cards – achieved an impressive £8,800 when it went under the hammer at Staffordshire auction house Cuttlestones’ last week.

A collection of Victorian calling cards

Split into numerous lots the collection, which hailed from a private estate, was catalogued in the saleroom’s Summer Antiques & Collectables sale and attracted bids from collectors worldwide; primarily via the internet.

Cuttlestones’ managing director and head auctioneer, Ben Gamble, said: “Carte de Visite were pretty much the Victorian equivalent of Instagram – people would sit for a photographic portrait and, alongside a main large image, would be presented with several smaller versions of the image to gift to friends and family. Albums of such portraiture were commonplace in fashionable 19th-century sitting rooms, with images of Royalty, Aristocrats and celebrities prized alongside those of friends and family.

Examples of Victorian calling cards

“There remains a strong interest among collectors to this day, and this collection – being sizeable, and in extremely good condition – attracted a lot of interest. The range of subjects is fascinating – with characters such as the ‘Old Postwoman at Lyme Regis’ represented alongside the highest echelons of Victorian society. We are delighted with the result, and lots are now on their way to new owners as far afield as London, Liverpool and Wolverhampton.”

A selection of Victorian calling cards

Art also proved particularly popular in the sale – highlights included Lot 213; an oil study of chickens and ducks by Edgar Hunt which made £3,000 and Lot 268, a military oil on canvas entitled ‘Drawing Lots for The Guelph Succession at Celle, A.D. 1592’ by Eyre Crowe sold for £1,900. In stark stylistic contrast, three giclee and canvas modern depictions of children playing in an urban landscape by Yorkshire artist Bob Barker achieved a combined £1,070.

Tribal art also performed well – examples include Lot 1020, a collection of eight assorted tribal clubs, spears and a fly whisk, which fetched £5,500; Lot 1021 – a South Seas Oceanic-type hardwood tribal club, which went for £1,800 and Lot 1022 – a similar South Seas Oceanic-type fighting club which sold for £1,300.

One of the most aesthetically pleasing items in the sale had to be Lot 914 – a ceramic depiction of a family of mice in a rowing boat, modelled by George Tinworth for Doulton, impressed and signed with monogram to base and dated 1886. Entitled ‘The Cockneys at Brighton’ the charming piece caused a stir among bidders – shattering its estimate of £1,000 – £2,000 when it went for £3,800.

Elsewhere, Lot 605 – an Explorer II Oyster Perpetual Date Superlative Perpetual Chronometer men’s wristwatch achieved £5,500, with strong prices across all sections of the catalogue – which also covered coins, jewellery, vintage clothing, books, ceramics, glass, oriental works and furniture.

Cuttlestones is now taking consignments for its Autumn Antiques & Collectables Auction – for a free, no obligation valuation email or call 01785 714905