Yesterday, at the rather marvellous Woolley & Wallis salerooms in Wiltshire, a new world record was paid for a piece of Mdina at auction. Lot 169, the Mdina 'Crizzle Stone' shown below, fetched a staggering £950 - over £1,100 including buyer's premium. Whilst this isn't quite as much as the £1,564 paid for a large Mdina 'Fish' signed by Michael Harris on eBay.de in March (see below), it is important as it's the highest price paid for a piece of Mdina in a traditional auction room environment.
For those of you who haven't read my book, the Crizzle Stone represents the apotheosis of Harris' hallmark Fish design, and the highly complex, time-consuming techniques behind its creation. Furthermore, having researched and closely watched this area for over five years now, I am only aware of four other examples. Two of those are in a private collection related to the Harris family - primarily as they were only made towards the end of the four years that he ran Mdina Glass. Add to that the facts that Michael Harris was the only glassmaker with enough skill to make them, and the fact that they were very expensive at the time, meaning few were made and sold, and you have a considerable and desirable rarity.
As to the identity of the buyer, he or she has been revealed simply as a 'private European glass collector'. Whether it's the first piece in a new collection, or else the crowning glory of an existing collection, it arguably represents one of the best and rarest designs ever produced by Michael Harris. With thanks to Michael Jeffrey of Woolley & Wallis.