Full Steam Ahead
Rare Steam Engine Headlines Bonhams' Connoisseur's Library Sale in Knightsbridge

London - A marvellous Corliss & Wheelock steam engine, built by Crepelle et Garand, Lille, which was awarded grand prix at the Exposition Universelle, Paris 1889, leads The Connoisseur's Library Sale at Bonhams Knightsbridge on 7-8 February. Still in working order, the engine is a testament to the extraordinary industrial innovation of the 19th century. An important engine with a long working and exhibition history, it has an estimate of £20,000-30,000.

Following the closure of the Exposition Universelle at Paris in 1889, the engine was erected at the hospital Emile Roux in Brevannes, south of Paris, where it continued to operate until approximately 1940. In 1975, it was excavated and transported to the British Engineerium in Hove, where it has been exhibited and professionally maintained for the past fifty years.

Bonhams specialist, Joseph Robson, commented: "This Horizontal Steam Engine characterises the synthesis of elegance and function that helped define the industrial period. Steam is admitted below the jacketed cylinder by a floor-mounted capstan main steam valve, of which there are very few examples in existence today. Its prize-winning inclusion at the Exposition Universelle represents a high point in industrial design, alongside the Eiffel Tower which was completed and displayed at the same exhibition. This is an exceptional piece of engineering, which not only beautifully conjures the image of a bygone industrial era, but also maintains functionality after more than a century."

The engine's designer, George Henry Corliss (1817-1888), lived and worked in America. As a designer for the Corliss Steam Engine Company, where he eventually became president, he was known for his design for the "Corliss valve gear" which incorporated semi-rotating valves housed within transverse ported tubes, integrally cast within the cylinder casting.

The Engineerium, where the Steam Engine has been housed, has recently been sold. The mission statement of the new owners of the Engineerium is "Building Happier Communities". Consistent with this aim, the space currently occupied by the steam engine will be used to host events that create and sustain wellbeing.

Other sale highlights include:

An important Irish George I walnut and featherbanded, sycamore, cedar and marquetry 'architectural' secretaire cabinet Circa 1725, possibly by John Kirkhoffer. One of an important group of four similar Irish walnut and marquetry secretaire cabinets which all appear in Irish Furniture, the seminal work on the subject by D. Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin and James Peill. Estimate: £20,000- 30,000.

A beautiful pair of J. & W. Cary 15-inch Terrestrial and Celestial Floor Standing Globes, English, circa 1820. The Cary family began making globes in the late 18th century and produced some of the finest examples of the time at their address 181 the Strand. The first globes by Cary were advertised in the 'Traveller's Companion' in January 1791. Estimate: £12,000-18,000.

A Group of Five Racehorses by John Rattenbury Skeaping R.A. (British, 1901-1980), 90cm (35 7/16in) long. A delightful bronze sculpture of five racehorses, signed, dated, numbered and inscribed with foundry mark, 'John Skeaping 77 4/7' on the base. Estimate: £10,000-15,000.

A late Victorian Renaissance revival ebonised oak and parcel gilt snooker/billiards table by Waring and Gillow, together with two late Victorian scoreboards by J. Bennett & Co. along with an ebonised and parcel gilt cue stand, the snooker table and scoreboards circa 1900. Estimate: £9,000- 14,000.

A Gentleman Labrador, by Thierry Poncelet (Belgian, born 1946), oil on panel. Estimate: £6,000- 8,000.

A George IV gothic revival painted and parcel gilt bergère attributed to Gillows, circa 1825, probably after a design by William Porden. An identical bergère is illustrated in F. Collard, Regency Furniture, 1985, Woodbridge, p. 175. Both of these examples are closely comparable to at least two of the armchairs which feature among the superb gothic revival furniture shown inside the Drawing Room at Eaton Hall, as depicted in one of J.C. Buckler's series of prints called "Views of Eaton Hall", produced in 1826. Estimate: £3,000-5,000.



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