Just to interrupt our series on Jane Austen and her religion for a moment, it has just been brought to my attention that  the Blue John ornaments I wrote about in a previous post, Robbing Derbyshire of its Petrified Spars, made very interesting prices when they went up for auction this summer at Tennants salesrooms in Yorkshire.

Blue John is, as you will no doubt recall, a very beautiful mineral that was  found only in Castleton in Derbyshire, and examples of it or items made from it may have been one of the early nineteenth tourist trade items,  a  “petrified spar”,  that Elizabeth Bennet refers to in Chapter 42 of Pride and Prejudice:

With the mention of Derbyshire there were many ideas connected. It was impossible for her to see the word without thinking of Pemberley and its owner. “But surely,” said she, “I may enter his county with impunity, and rob it of a few petrified spars without his perceiving me.”

A Pair of Ormolu Mounted Blue John Obelisk Candelabra, 19th century, the mounts in the manner of Pierre-Philippe Thomire ©Tennants

The first lot , a pair of Obelisk Candelabra achieved a hammer price of £11,000, which when all buyers premiums were paid, made a total selling price of £13,465.

The second lot, a pair of Blue John Urns….

A Pair of Ormolu Mounted Blue John Campana Shaped Pedestal Urns, 19th century, the mounts in the manner of Pierre-Philippe Thomire ©Tennants

achieved a hammer price of £120,000, and the total price  when all tax and premiums were paid was £146,640. Phew……

According to Huon Mallalieu’s report in this week’s Country Life magazine, the auctioneer wished he had reversed the order in which the lots were sold for he considered that the Candelabra were the bargains of the sale. I can only  agree….