Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Box Designed by Archibald Knox Takes the Biscuit


During a recent auction at Reeman Dansie of Colchester, a decorative biscuit box designed by the internationally famous Manx designer Archibald Knox was sold for £26,000 to a private collector in the UK.

This attractive Cymric silver, enamel and blister pearl biscuit box by Liberty & Co. and was part of a remarkable collection of Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau silver which recently came to light after 40 years locked away in a bank vault.

Courtesy of Reeman Dansie
They were being sold by the daughter of the late Douglas Shepherd (1922 – 1989) an architect and designer for the Ind Coope Brewery and a member of the Art Workers’ Guild, who was responsible for several pub interiors during the 1970s which reflected the style of renowned artist and designer William Morris. Shepherd collected silver by Omar Ramsden, Robert Ashbee and Archibald Knox between 1950s and 1970s.

Speculation that the biscuit box was the only known example of its kind outside the Victoria and Albert Museum in London attracted eight telephone bidders, with an opening bid of £7,000, which was well in excess of the pre-sale estimate of £4,000 - £5,000. A battle between London dealer Jan Van Den Bosch and a UK private collector eventually pushed the price up to £26,000.

The 80th anniversary of Knox’s death has just been celebrated on the Isle of Man with supporters of the Manxman’s work gathering at the designer’s grave at the new Braddan Cemetery to hear Chairman and Founder of the Archibald Knox Society speak briefly about the man and lay a floral tribute.

This was followed by an exhibition and sale of artefacts by Island resident Chris Hobdell at the nearby Braddan church hall, which included a number of items designed by Knox, all of which were sold in record time as keen buyers and curious onlookers crowded into the tiny hall to see what was on offer.

Valerie Caine © February 2013

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