'Let Curzon Holde What Curzon Helde' is not just an expression of pious hope or a snappy cliché from the College of Arms book of mottoes. It is a statement of fact, for the Curzons have held on to a greater part of their patrimony for more than nine centuries through plague, two civil wars and two world wars. Although the great house and most of its treasures have been transferred to the National Trust to keep safely forever, the family still occupy a substantial wing.
The house as we now see it was designed by the great Robert Adam and James Paine, to house the ever growing collection of art, furniture and curiosities gathered by Sir Nathaniel Curzon, 5th Baronet and 1st Lord Scarsdale acquired on the grand tour.
The motto already mentioned does however have to be modified. The present generation of Curzons decided not to hold on to many of their surplus treasures any longer.
This amazing sale contained personal possessions, official gifts, individual pieces of historical importance from all over the world and items as significant as would be expected from one of England’s great houses
The auction started with silver and without question the section was led by this rare freedom box made for Cork in the city of its origin. Although one of the smallest pieces in its category it eventually sold for £??? with competition from all over the world.
Unsurprisingly with its geographic location the family had acquired a substantial collection of Derby porcelain spreading across the factories 250 years history but it was an unusual pair of trouts head stirrup cups, illustrating the family's sporting interest that captured the attention of the bidders in the marquee eventually selling locally for £4,800.
The family’s history of travel and exploration was represented by a wide range of photographs from Lord Curzon's time as Viceroy of India as well as unusual ceramics and metal work from the Middle East, Persia and Eastern Europe. But it was an unsuspecting lot that created international interest from public museums collectors and dealers world wide. The larger section of this Persian funery tile panel c.1320AD had been discovered in the attics whilst the smaller had been used as a mug stand in one of the bedrooms, it was fought over to £13,500.
In traditional fashion the sale concluded with the larger furnishings, a pair of Louis XVI style cabinets previously containing much of Lord Scarsdales collection raised £4,800 while most of the bidding was reserved a set of four double barrelled and triple brass barrelled signalling cannon, perhaps used during the families affreral naval duties under Queen Victoria.
The sale provided a rare opportunity for collectors, private buyers and dealers to aquire previously unseen treasures from a unique collection. Buyers from across the world flooded to the sale resulting in a remarkably high percentage selling at up to 20 times estimates. Auctioneer James Lewis remarked 'It will be decades before we see such a sale in Derbyshire again.'