Friday, 26 October 2012

Sotheby’s to sell the George Daniels Horological Collection, greatest watchmaker of 20th century

back coverI’m not sure what George Daniels would have made of the iPhone. Apart from making voice calls and texts, for as little outlay as free, or 99 pence at worst, it’s possible to have the thing tell you the time or the weather anywhere in the world, the air temperature in Wirral and even when high tide will be tomorrow in Rhyl, constantly recalibrating itself to take into account leap years and phases of the moon. He’d probably have bought one just to take apart to see how it was made.

Dr Daniels, who died at his home on the Isle of Man in October last year, had that kind of inquisitive mind. When he was five, he opened up the back of a broken watch to reveal its complex mechanism of wheels and cogs, shedding a light on a new universe, which he said transformed his life.

On November 6, Sotheby’s will sell the personal collection of watches and clocks George built over a lifetime devoted to horology: unique timepieces George made himself, together with fine and important antique clocks and watches by makers who inspired him. They are expected to raise £3.8 to 5.8 million.

Proceeds from this landmark sale will be added to the £11 million raised for his collection of vintage cars, sold last June. The funds will go to the George Daniels Educational Trust, set up by him to further the higher education of pupils studying horology, engineering,

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Friday, 19 October 2012

Raise your glasses to the Jacobite cause - Amen

Glass-1It’s not often a single, utilitarian domestic object like a wine glass can teach us a history lesson, but in the week that David Cameron and Alex Salmond have agreed there will be a referendum on Scottish independence, here’s a glass celebrating the Jacobite cause. It would have been used to toast the “king over the water”

and the romantic notion that Charles Edward Stuart would return one day to lead Scotland to freedom after the disaster of Culloden in 1746.

An example of the so-called “Amen glass” – a hymn or prayer engraved into the body of the glass concludes with the word “Amen” and one of fewer than 40 know to have survived – it comes from the Edward V. Phillips Collection of 16th, 17th and 18th century furniture, glass and works of art. It is one of the most significant collections to be offered in the region in recent times.

The late Mr Phillips was known in the Powys area near Knighton as a private and quiet man,

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Friday, 12 October 2012

James Bond 007: Licensed To Make Collectors Of Us

Bond-5I grew up with James Bond. I read all Ian Fleming’s novels, I’ve seen all the Bond films. I even wear an Omega Seamaster wristwatch like my hero. Last week, in a Christie’s charity auction in conjunction with UK Bond film makers EON Productions, the watch worn by Daniel Craig in the new blockbuster Skyfall sold for a cool £157,250.

Out of most people’s reach, granted, but it was very special: a unique automatic Omega Seamaster Professional “Planet Ocean” watch made in titanium specially for the action scenes, sold to benefit ORBIS, the charity fighting blindness worldwide.

But even that paled alongside the star lot: the Aston Martin DBS used by Craig in Quantum Of Solace and sold to benefit

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Friday, 5 October 2012

On The Tiles: Why Collectors Love These Victorian Beauties

Tile-4We were on holiday in Tunisia and if we fancied a break from lazing around the pool, the tourist rep said she was arranging a free trip to see some Roman remains. It wasn't much of an trip - in the heat of the day we walked crocodile-style a few hundred yards from the hotel down a dusty road - but the pay-off was a sight that has stuck in our memory.
    The rep was carrying a bucket as we picked our way through the what looked like a building site but it wasn't for donations for the tour guide. After asking us to stand aside, the guide dipped the bucket into a trough of water which he flung across the ground. As it washed away the sand, there revealed to us for the first time was a magnificent marble mosaic floor. A closer look showed that the ornate patterns were made up of tiny square-shaped pieces of coloured stone tiles, called tesserae. It must have taken hours of painstaking work to lay.
    Perhaps that's why we collect tiles like the ones pictured here. After all, they owe their existence to the Romans. Ours are somewhat younger, though, dating from Victorian and Edwardian times but, in our opinion at

(Pictured: A selection of tiles designed by William de Morgan

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