Mantiques and the Gentleman’s Interior

Selection of fine leather-bound books sold in our specialist book auction in October 2016
Selection of fine leather-bound books sold in our specialist book auction in October 2016

It’s not a phrase you will hear on the rostrum at Toovey’s, but “Mantiques” are gathering ground among young professionals. It’s arguably a rebellion against the floral vintage and white-washed looks that have been dominating interior design magazines over the last decade. This particularly alpha male inspired scheme draws on the Gentlemen’s clubs of old, with beaten leathers mixed with exotic woods and mirrored glass. Perhaps best personified by the fictional character Ron Burgundy in the 2004 comedy Anchorman, who stated in reference to his own persona and interior:

“I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal. People know me. I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.”
Bedroom at the QT Sydney hotel

The rise of the sartorial gentleman is arguably still coming to fruition, but the fashion world is already embracing the gentlemanly touches of pocket watches, suit fabrics and perfect tailoring. Something Brighton-based designer, Gresham Blake, has been championing for the last decade. Top fashion houses such as Christian Dior, Chanel and Victoria Beckham have followed, adopting masculine influences in their collections. It is only natural with such a widespread influence on the sartorial world, that it will affect our opinion on interiors too. After all, a sophisticated man needs sophisticated surroundings. Within interiors, it’s a fusion between the traditional and the modern. Dark polished woods and a glow of subtle ambient light juxtaposed with boy’s toys such as sleek wireless speakers and the best of the latest technology. Despite the supposed male influence the look has been adopted by many females, most famously Jennifer Aniston at her Beverly Hills home, as featured in the Architectural Digest a few years ago. If you still can’t picture the look, the QT Sydney hotel in Australia has the luxury and quirky styling that is at the core of the interior design.

A pair of 20th Century George III style buttoned brown leather wing back armchairs sold for a hammer price of £1400
A pair of 20th Century George III style buttoned brown leather wing back armchairs sold for a hammer price of £1400 in December 2016

Every month sees a furniture auction at Toovey’s brimming with furniture made from luxurious dark woods and often offers previously loved leather armchairs, as well as other chairs crying out to be reupholstered in a sartorial fabric. The Specialist Book Auctions always include a host of beautiful books bound in glistening leathers to make a statement on the bookcase of opulence and intelligence. The next Book Auctions at Toovey’s will be on 24th April and 3rd October 2017. Other feature pieces could include decanters, silver salvers and candlesticks, mirrors and statement pieces of art. The look centres around quality, luxury and splashes of colour in a restrained but eclectic style. Toovey’s auctions always have a wealth of quality items that can help achieve the look and perhaps you will be inviting people to view your collection of “mantiques” soon!

Visit Toovey’s website to see forthcoming auctions and viewing times.

Christmas and New Year opening hours at Toovey’s 2016/2017

Please note that we close for the Christmas period at 5.00pm on Thursday 15th December and reopen at 10.00am on Thursday 29th December for pre-sale viewing of our End of Year Sale on 30th December.

Note: All enquiries regarding this sale will be responded to on our return.

After the sale day, we are closed from New Year’s Eve Saturday 31st December to Monday 2nd January.

We return to our normal opening hours from Tuesday 3rd January:
Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm for valuations and 9am to 5pm for all other enquiries.

Dixon’s Gavel Bash!

Buddy Holly and Waylon Jennings by Simon Dixon

Nick Toovey will once again be wielding his gavel on contemporary art, but instead of hosting a self-representing artist sale, he will be conducting a contemporary art auction to raise funds for a much loved and celebrated Brighton-based artist, the ‘daddy’ of pop art, Simon Dixon, on Thursday 29th September at the Naked Eye Gallery in Hove.

'Dixon' by Antony Micallef
'Dixon' by Antony Micallef

A host of artists originating locally but of national and international renown have donated works to raise funds for Simon’s therapy and care in his battle against cancer. The auction includes works by Antony Micallef, Simon Dixon, Sarah Shaw, Ian Hodgson, Chris Kettle, Charlie Day, Tori Day, Paul Ostrer, Sam Hewitt, Jim Sanders and Graham Carter. The auction will be a rare opportunity to buy works of art from a gallery with the price tags decided by the bidders and buyers.

Auctioneer, Nick Toovey, said ‘I can’t wait! The auction includes works from so many of my friends from the Toovey’s contemporary art auction days, not least Simon himself, who really needs some help with what he is going through at the moment.  I love the community spirit of the art world and this auction exemplifies it.’

On the evening of the sale, the ‘Tree of Temptation’ will offer luxuriant treats donated by local artisans and businesses to buy and take home, but with a twist – find out more on the night!

Artwork offered for the sale can be previewed from 3rd September at the Naked Eye Gallery, 5 Farm Mews, Farm Road, Hove, BN3 1GH, where the auction itself will be conducted by Nick Toovey Thursday 29th September. Doors open at 7pm with the auction starting at 8pm. If you can’t make the auction but wish to try and buy, there are other ways to bid. Please ask for more details at the gallery.

Please visit the Facebook event page for further information.

The Life and Collection of an Eclectic Bookworm

The Michael Gilkes Collection of Travel and Exploration Books
The Michael Gilkes Collection of Travel and Exploration Books

Toovey’s are pleased to be offering the Travel and Exploration Book Collection of Michael Gilkes FRCS, FRCOphth., FRGS (1923-2014).  This wonderful set of books, including one of the best private collections of polar-related books in the UK, form part of a Gilkes family collective memory. Michael’s daughter, Hester Gilkes, recalls: ‘The imposing and mysterious spines, many with beautiful gold-embossed images on them, lined the bookshelves of Dad’s study – as intriguing and mysterious as the countries and exploits concealed within their pages. All the family recall the books. Our lives were almost dominated by them; tomes on almost every conceivable subject were available for consultation.’

Michael Transporting Foggy Dew
Michael Transporting the 'Foggy Dew', a yacht he built in his back garden

The books go back further than just him, of course. His grandfather, or one of them, was A.H. Gilkes, headmaster of Dulwich College. His library survived, in part, to be passed on to Michael – erudite books in mass-produced Victorian editions, the mark of a prolific reader. At some point the books had been stored on newly painted shelves, and some had spots of black paint adhering to the bottom edges. One of his children recalls reading The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, each page of the enormous work having to be carefully separated from the rest as it was turned. His mother, Denne Parker, an accomplished classical singer, had married Martin Gilkes, a poet and lecturer at Birmingham University, adding other elements to the family library. There are even books belonging to William Gilkes, who back in the early 19th century had married Mary Hemming of the Showers in Herefordshire. This Quaker ancestor had assembled a collection of those books ‘it was most needful for men to know’: Homer, Virgil and the Bible.

Michael at Shackletons Grave, South Georgia
Michael at Shackletons Grave, South Georgia

It really began, though, with books on the Antarctic, which Michael started to acquire prior to his posting as a newly qualified doctor to the whaling station on South Georgia in 1946, mainly based at Leith, but also at Grytviken. Upon qualification as a doctor, a gift from his great uncle, Michael Parker, an Oxford don and expert on the Roman army, permitted the acquisition of the three volumes of The South Polar Times. Over the next sixty-odd years, the collection expanded to reflect his growing range of subject-related interests, and now includes – in addition to the general Antarctic section – named Antarctic expeditions, whales and whaling, works on the great explorers Columbus, Cook, Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton, a fine section on cartography, islands and North and South America, including an extensive section on Patagonia.

During a long and rich life, this passion for adventure would see Michael crewing on an America’s Cup Race, living and working for a time researching glaucoma in both Jerusalem and the Gambia, building his own thirty-foot yacht in his back garden and sailing her around Britain and over to Europe, and traveling extensively, particularly in South America. On his retirement from his career as an ophthalmic surgeon, he made a number of voyages back to Antarctica – the region which fascinated and drew him the most.

Like Kipling’s The Elephant’s Child, the books in this catalogue reflect a ‘satiable curiosity’ for exploration, and an inspirational hunger for the new and undiscovered.

The Studio Collection of Claude Muncaster

Claude Muncaster painting at Littlehampton
Claude Muncaster painting at Littlehampton

Toovey’s are delighted to include the Studio Collection of Claude Grahame Muncaster, RWS, ROI, RBA, SMA (1903-1974) in their June auction of Fine Art on Wednesday 15th June 2016. The collection consigned for sale by a descendant of the artist.

Lot 33 Claude Muncaster 'Downs from Bury Gate Marshes', oil on canvas
Lot 33 Claude Muncaster 'Downs from Bury Gate Marshes', oil on canvas

Claude Muncaster was born in West Chiltington, West Sussex, the son of artist Oliver Hall RA. Born Grahame Hall, he changed his name for exhibitions and later by deed-poll to stop any comparisons or confusion with his father’s work.

Lot 37 Claude Muncaster 'View from the Fifth Tee, Cowdray', watercolour
Lot 37 Claude Muncaster 'View from the Fifth Tee, Cowdray', watercolour

He is equally well known for his marine subjects as his depictions of the British landscape and enjoyed great success in his own lifetime. He immortalised the Sussex landscape in his watercolours and oils. His work is represented in many public collections, including the Royal Academy of Arts, Tate, National Maritime Museum Cornwall, National Railway Museum and Royal Air Force Museum.

Lot 13 Claude Muncaster 'Majorcan Shipbuilding Yard (Palma)', watercolour
Lot 13 Claude Muncaster 'Majorcan Shipbuilding Yard (Palma)', watercolour

Claude Muncaster published a number of books, including ‘Rolling Round the Horn’ in 1933, a narrative of a voyage on a sailing ship from Australia to the British Isles, and ‘Landscape and Marine Painting’ in 1958 on painting techniques.

Lot 2 Claude Muncaster 'The Frozen Thames in December', watercolour
Lot 2 Claude Muncaster 'The Frozen Thames in December', watercolour

‘The Wind in the Oak’ was written by his son, Martin Muncaster, which covered the life, work and philosophy of his father. In his foreword for the book, H.R.H. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, wrote: ‘… I look at Claude Muncaster’s landscape watercolours at Sandringham and Balmoral and the one big landscape in oils and I wonder in hopeless mystification just how he managed to do it. It is not that he just had a talent for applying paint, he had an unerring instinct for a subject and with some sort of secret antenna he was able to sense the atmosphere and then incorporate it into the picture in a way which was uniquely his. Technique and observation obviously played their parts, but there is more to it than that. Attitude, experience, application; certainly, but in the end there is no other word for it than sheer talent.’