Ashford Black Marble engraving of Matlock Tor
July 18, 2011 2 Comments
Anna Rhodes, Assistant Collections Officer, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery
On 13 July I went down to Halls Auction House in Shrewsbury to bid on an Ashford Black Marble diamond engraving by Ann Rayner (1802 – 1890). It was a really nice piece with a lovely moonlit view of Matlock High Tor. It had an estimate of £300 – £500, and after discussions with colleagues we decided that our maximum bid would be £750.
At Buxton Museum we already have two Ann Rayner Ashford Black Marble engravings, one is of Haddon Hall and the other of Matlock Bath. The piece for sale had a label on the reverse from the Centre Museum at Matlock Bath. We have a few other pieces in the collection which also came from the Centre Museum, which was owned by John Vallance.
This ‘museum’ like the other museums found in Matlock Bath at the time was basically just a shop selling Derbyshire spars and minerals. John Vallance joined Mawe & Brown at the Royal Museum in Matlock Bath as an assistant in 1811. In 1831 he set up his Centre Museum next door. At the 1851 Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace he won a prize medal for his in-laid marble tables. The juries report went on to say that a ‘Prize Medal has been awarded, not for these tables only, but for his general collection of Derbyshire marble manufactures, which is in a very high degree interesting and instructive’.
Engraved Ashford Black Marble paperweights like the one for sale were popular from 1830 – 1850 and they often featured moonlight scenes and country houses. They were made by scratching the polished marble with a diamond which created a paler line that could be built up into a picture.
Anyway, back to the saleroom…..
At the auction I sat patiently through the Chinese ceramics and watched bids fly in from across the world – China, Taiwan and America clinched most of the deals. Finally after an hour and a half Lot 100 arrived. It started with the auctioneer on commission at £300, before being opened to the room. My paddle shot up at £350 but a millisecond later an internet bid came in offering over a £1000 – my short lived bidding days were over. A fierce contest erupted between a gentleman in the room and the internet and it finally sold for £3400. Alas…
If you want to find out more about Ashford Black Marble read Tomlinson’s ‘Derbyshire Black Marble’ which is for sale at Buxton Museum, £9.95, alternatively you can borrow it from Derbyshire Libraries.