The Speelman Collection Comes Back to Sotheby’s With Its Second Part, Highlighted by an Imperial Gilt-Metal Clock

Provenance is one of the key factors deciding the value of a piece of artwork. Many works of art have seen multiple increases in value once having passed through the hands of prominent collectors. For example, an upcoming sale at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong offers a selection of works of art from the Speelman Collection, in which some are estimated in the region between HK$1m and HK$20m, far exceeding the prices of similar pieces that we see on the market. It shows how works of art with impeccable provenance are highly sought-after in the collecting world.

Speaking of the Speelman Collection, Sotheby’s had another sale dedicated to the Speelman Collection in April this year, but the performance fell short of expectation with half of the lots offered were bought-in. Now the auction house presents the second instalment of the collection. Here are some highlights of the sale.

Leading the sale is an imperial gilt-metal quarter-striking table clock, mark and period of Qianlong. The clock is 47.5cm tall, modelled after Western designs and supported on a lacquered base resting on four short feet. It is decorated on all four sides with scrolling floral patterns in gold paint. Experts believe this clock is most likely originated in the clock workshop of the Qianlong court. It is estimated at HK$15m-20m (US$1,911,000 - 2,548,000).

Another highlight is a pair of Canton enamel and ivory ‘European’ tribute figures from the Qianlong period, estimated at HK$5m-7m (US$637,000 - 891,800). They were traditionally considered to have been made for a religious order or monastery. However, specialists from the auction house believe it is much more likely that these figures were actually highly luxurious items created as tribute from Guangzhou to the imperial court, probably as opulent furnishings within the halls of the Summer Palace.

Buyers interested in acquiring this pair of ivory figures should be noted that China has implemented a nationwide ban prohibiting ivory trading. In Hong Kong, the government has opted to phase out the trade gradually and the process will be completed by December 31, 2021. However, there are still strict regulations on the import and export of ivory items.

A large carved red overlay glass vase from the Qing dynasty (18th century) is estimated at HK$4m-5m (509,600 - 637,000). The 39cm-tall has a body which can be divided into three main registers of continuous figural scenes, each dramatically rendered with elaborately dressed figures, some portrayed riding astride a horse and others with attendants holding large plantain leaf fans.

A Rare Cloisonne Enamel and Gilt-bronze Zhadou. Ming Dynasty, 16th Century|14.3cm|HK$1.5m - 2.5m (US$191,100 - 318,500)

A Rare Embellished Gold 'Peach' Box and Cover. Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period|11.7cm|HK$1m – 1.2m (US$127,400 - 152,880)

An Exquisite and Rare Cloisonne Enamel Incense Burner. Ming Dynasty, Early 15th Century|5.7cm|HK$700,000 - 900,000 (US$89,180 - 114,660)

The sale offers a total of 62 lots from the Speelman collection. We have picked out some of our favourite for Speelman’s fans.

A Magnificent and Rare Imperial Gilt-metal Quarter-striking Table Clock
Mark and Period of Qianlong

Lot no.: 3421
Size: 47.5cm
Christie's London, 7th June 1993, lot 142.
Estimate: HK$15,000,000 - 20,000,000

A Magnificent and Extremely Rare Pair of Canton Enamel and Ivory 'European' Tribute Figures
Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period

Lot no.: 3435
Size: 37.2 & 37.5cm
Provenance: Acquired in London, 1980s.
Estimate: HK$5,000,000 - 7,000,000

A Finely Carved Large Polychrome Lacquer 'Dragon' Box and Cover
Mark and Period of Qianlong

Lot no.: 3423
Size: 29.9cm
Estimate: HK$4,000,000 - 6,000,000

A Large Carved Red Overlay Glass Vase
Qing Dynasty, 18th Century

Lot no.: 3407
Size: 39cm
Collection of Alfred Speelman (1907-2004), acquired in the 1930s.
Estimate: HK$4,000,000 - 5,000,000

A Magnificently Carved and Rare Pair of Stained Ivory and Appliqué-decorated 'dragon Boat Festival' Panels in Huanghuali Frames
Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period

Lot no.: 3425
Size: 98.5 x 136.5cm (each panel)
Provenance: Sotheby's Parke Bernet, Los Angeles, 14th June 1979, lot 813.
Estimate: HK$3,000,000 - 5,000,000

A Rare Cloisonne Enamel and Gilt-bronze Zhadou
Ming Dynasty, 16th Century

Lot no.: 3436
Size: 14.3cm

  • Collection of Walter and Lucie Rosen, purchased in the 1920s-1940s.
  • Collection of Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts.

Estimate: HK$1,500,000 - 2,500,000

A Rare Embellished Gold 'Peach' Box and Cover
Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period

Lot no.: 3430
Size: 11.7cm
Estimate: HK$1,000,000 - 1,200,000

A Finely Carved Lapis Lazuli Boulder
Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period

Lot no.: 3431
Size: 19.4cm
Estimate: HK$800,000 - 1,000,000

A Rare Ruby-ground Canton Enamel 'Sanduo' Ruyi Sceptre
Qing Dynasty, 18th Century

Lot no.: 3426
Size: 54.3cm
Estimate: HK$800,000 - 1,000,000

An Exquisite and Rare Cloisonne Enamel Incense Burner
Ming Dynasty, Early 15th Century

Lot no.: 3448
Size: 5.7cm
Estimate: HK$700,000 - 900,000

Auction details

Auction house: Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Sale: Gems of Chinese Art – The Speelman Collection II
Lots offered: 62
28 September 2018|10am - 5:30pm
29 - 30 September 2018|10am - 8pm
1-2 October 2018|10am - 6:30pm
Auction date: 3 October 2018|11:45am