Earthly Treasures

Earthly Treasures

The Personal collection of Elizabeth and David Hacker

Sworders' Fine Interiors department are extremely pleased to present over sixty lots of strikingly beautiful Derbyshire Blue John and Ashford Black Marble, from the collection of lifelong collectors, David and Elizabeth Hacker in our upcoming 13-14 June Sale. 

25 May 2023

David and Elizabeth’s passion and appreciation for British geology and minerology began around fifty years ago as a much-loved family pastime. Their interest became apparent during their visits to family and friends in the north of England, exploring the fells of West and East Cumbria, to County Durham; often staying at their cottage in the Lake District, which gave access to the historic mineral locations and mining areas. Fascinated by the chemical compositions found in the various specimens found in the area, and the stunning aesthetics of crystal forms, colour and beauty. The Hackers extensively researched the history of the mining industry and the sheer complexity of the minerals themselves. This enabled them to carefully select examples to buy through auctions, private sales, and even from a mine leased in County Durham. As a result, David and Elizabeth’s collection included many exceptional pieces, which were exhibited in Europe and the USA, and eventually the minerals from Weardale and County Durham went to and are on display at Killhope Lead Mining Museum; Bishop Auckland.

 

 

A Derbyshire Blue John bowl, 19th century, of plain circular form with a short foot (£600-800)

A Derbyshire Blue John bowl, 19th century, of plain circular form with a short foot (£600-800)



After years of exploration and research, the two directed their attention to Derbyshire Blue John, a semi-precious stone that was first discovered over two thousand years ago by the Romans. Blue John is a rare and highly prized variety of fluorspar (calcium fluorite), with distinctive banding of purple, blue and golden yellow. This rare natural stone originates from the Treak Cliff and Blue John Caverns, located in the shadow of the ‘Shivering Mountain’ of Mam Tor in the village of Castleton, the Peak District, Derbyshire. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Blue John was a highly coveted mineral used to produce exquisite and very collectable vases, column, eggs, bowls and goblets, some of which are now housed in Buckingham Palace and Chatsworth House. Blue John today is a rare occurrence as unfortunately, during the First World War the rising need for supplies and machinery meant the majority was unearthed for the war effort. In the 21st century, only a very small amount is now mined, and tends to be only suitable for small jewellery pieces.

 

A Derbyshire Blue John bowl (£500-800)

A Derbyshire Blue John bowl (£500-800)

 

David and Elizabeth were struck by the scarcity, quality and beauty of Derbyshire Blue John. In the twenty years it has taken to create the collection, it has been exhibited in Europe and the USA, and now finds its way to Sworders to be sold in our Fine Interiors sale on the 13 and 14 June.

Ashford black marble warrants equal appreciation of its craftmanship, beauty and rarity. Again, the stone has important ties to travel and the exploration of Derbyshire, and the family and friends of the Hacker’s past.

 

A large Ashford black marble obelisk (£600-800)

A large Ashford black marble obelisk (£600-800)

 

Ashford black marble can be found in the hills surrounding the village of Ashford of the Water in Derbyshire. Its earliest definitive use can be traced back to the fireplaces of Hardwick Hall in 1580. The emergence of Ashford black marble developed during the 18th and 19th centuries, where a thriving trade in the production of urns, obelisks, vases and other decorative items formed. The stone was elegantly inlaid with a variety of semi-precious stones, shells and ceramics to depict the many wildflowers native to Britain, such as forget-me-nots, pansies and lily of the valley.

 

An Ashford black marble tazza (£800-1,200)

An Ashford black marble tazza (£800-1,200)

 

To view all the lots from this collection, please click here

If you would like to view the full catalogue for our 13-14 June Fine Interiors sale, visit this link. 


 

For further information regarding our sale or to discuss a valuation, please contact fineinteriors@sworder.co.uk | 01279 817778  

 

 


 

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