Another Rare Louis Vuitton Trunk Discovered by Toovey’s

The recently discovered Louis Vuitton cabin trunk.

Toovey’s have unearthed another rare Louis Vuitton ‘Explorer’ travelling trunk.

This rare Louis Vuitton zinc covered ‘explorer’s’ cabin trunk (malle cabine) was produced circa 1895. The interior displays the original printed label numbered ‘33525’, and is comparable to the example we sold in October 2017 (read our blog post here). The current vendor having discovered our previous success was surprised by the value and decided to consign it with Toovey’s.

Louis Vuitton printed label
Louis Vuitton printed label

These trunks were issued in zinc and aluminium and were designed to withstand the extreme environments of the late 19th century explorer, giving the trunks their nickname.

This rare cabin trunk will be offered for sale at Toovey’s on Friday 6th December 2019 with a pre-sale estimate of £20,000-30,000. Please contact Will Rowsell for any enquiries regarding this trunk.

The Cenotaph, Marking 100 Years of Remembrance

Watercolour and gouache of the Cenotaph by Ann Allsop dated 1943

The Cenotaph in Whitehall, London has provided the focus for the nation’s Service of Remembrance for 100 years.

The Cenotaph, which means empty tomb in Greek, was designed and built by the famous architect Edwin Lutyens at the request of the Prime Minister Lloyd George. It was originally made out of wood and plaster for the first anniversary of the Armistice in 1919. As soon as the monument was unveiled people spontaneously covered its base in wreaths of remembrance for the dead and missing of The Great War. In response to the public’s enthusiasm for this focus of national memorial it was decided that it should be re-constructed permanently in Portland stone. The finished Cenotaph was unveiled in 1920 and bears the poignantly inscription ‘The Glorious Dead’.

Sir Fabian Ware founded the Imperial War Graves Commission (later the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) and in 1917 it received its Royal Charter with the Prince of Wales as President. At 45 years old Ware was too old to fight, instead he commanded a mobile unit of the British Red Cross. As he witnessed the terrible human cost of the war Ware became convinced that the resting place of the dead should never be lost and began to record the graves of the fallen as early as 1915.

The Cenotaph, Whitehall, London, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens
The Cenotaph, Whitehall, London, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens

The Commission consulted some of the most eminent architects of the day. Sir Edwin Lutyens, Sir Herbert Baker and Sir Reginald Blomfield were chosen to begin the work of designing and constructing the cemeteries and memorials. Rudyard Kipling was tasked as literary advisor to recommend inscriptions.
In the aftermath of the First World War the British people at home also needed a focus for their sense of grief, sacrifice and pride. Countless War Memorials were erected the length and breadth of Britain often by public subscription. It was the greatest expression of remembrance this nation had ever seen.

This coming week we will once again reflect upon the costs of defending righteousness, freedom and liberty, giving thanks not only for our allies but also for reconciliation and peace.
In churches across Britain, Europe and America the common story and Christian heritage which unites us will be expressed in services of Remembrance and thanksgiving. Beside War Memorials across Britain these familiar bidding words will be heard:

“We have come to remember before God those who have died for their country in the two world wars and the many conflicts of the years that have followed. Some we knew and loved: we treasure their memory still. Others are unknown to us: to their remembrance too, we give our time…With thanksgiving we recall services offered and sacrifices made…”

I hope that each of us will be able to find time in this Remembrance Sunday to reflect, offering thanks and prayers for the courage of successive generations who have been called, and continue to be called, to defend the greater cause of justice and concord.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November…

A 1605 engraving by Crispijn van de Passe the Elder, depicting eight of the thirteen Gunpowder plot conspirators, including Guy Fawkes which realised £700 at Toovey’s

As Bonfire Night approaches many of us are looking forward to the spectacle of sparkling light, whizzes, pops and bangs, drifting smoke and the smell of gunpowder on a cold, still November night. But amidst our excitement it is easy to forget that fireworks on Bonfire Night commemorate a particularly bloody and turbulent time in our island’s history.

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was an attempt by provincial, English Roman Catholics to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament, in order to assassinate James I of England (VI of Scotland) and install his nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, on the throne as a Roman Catholic head of state. The plot, led by Robert Catesby, was revealed by means of an anonymous letter. Famously, Guy Fawkes was discovered with thirty-six barrels of gunpowder during a search of the House of Lords at midnight on 4th November 1605. He and his seven surviving accomplices were tortured, tried for and convicted of high treason and sentenced to death by being hung, drawn and quartered.

The print shown here was published around 1605 by a leading Dutch printmaker, Crispijn van de Passe the Elder, and shows eight of the thirteen conspirators, including Guy Fawkes. It is an extraordinary depiction of some of those involved, giving life to this particular moment in history.

A 1603 engraving of Elizabeth I by Isaac Oliver sold at Toovey’s for £3800

In contrast the 1603 engraving of Elizabeth I by Isaac Oliver speaks of a different moment in history. The qualities of tolerance and fairness were seeded, though not perfected, during the reign of Elizabeth I (1533-1603). There had been much conflict and bloodshed after Henry VIII’s break with Rome as Roman Catholics and Protestants each sought to establish their authority and particular understandings of the Christian faith in England.

Elizabeth I came to the throne in 1558. Her first aim was to return England to the Protestant faith. What she and her advisors created was a church which was, and remains, both Catholic and Reformed.

The Act of Supremacy of 1558 established Elizabeth as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. In the same year the Act of Uniformity was passed by a narrow majority in Parliament. It required the population to attend an Anglican church each Sunday. In addition it specified that a new version of the Book of Common Prayer be used.

After Parliament had been dismissed a series of Royal Injunctions were courageously passed by Elizabeth I in 1559. The result of this was that the wording of the liturgy for Holy Communion remained open to a variety of interpretations. This allowed Christians holding differing understandings of the nature of the consecrated bread and wine to receive this sacrament with integrity in the privacy of their own hearts. Elizabeth famously declared that she did not wish to “make windows into men’s souls” on the basis that “there is only one Jesus Christ and all the rest is a dispute over trifles”.

The shadow of history often has much to say to our own times.
Elizabeth I’s pragmatic and courageous qualities of compromise, tolerance and ambiguity have blessed our nation and our Church. It is my prayer that we will allow these qualities to remain central to our continued, shared national story – our common narrative.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

The Fascination of Chinese Imperial Porcelain

A Chinese blue and white reverse-decorated ‘dragon’ saucer dish, mark of Daoguang, diameter 7 inches

Chinese potters from the Qing Dynasty went to extraordinary lengths to copy centuries old designs. This was deeply bound up with the very nature of Chinese art which has always had a strong tendency towards antiquarianism. These qualities are apparent in the Imperial Qing Dynasty pieces of the 19th century. The artistry you can see in the pieces illustrated is at odds with the turbulent times during which they were made.

The Qing rulers faced internal rebellion as well as the increasing interference and dominance of Western and Japanese power in China. The century would witness the Opium Wars with Britain and China’s ceding of Hong Kong Island to us.

The profligacy of earlier Qing Emperors meant that Daoguang inherited a throne diminished by its depleted financial resources. Despite his personal austerity Daoguang failed to rebalance the country’s finances. The Dowager Empress Cixi came to prominence when she bore the Emperor Xianfeng (1850-1861) a son. In 1861 she assumed the role of co-regent over the six year old Tongzhi (1861-1875). When Tongzhi died childless in 1875 Cixi successfully installed her four year old nephew Guangxu (1875-1908) on the throne. She would remain in power until her death in 1908. Cixi’s narrow world view and extravagance prevented the reforms which might have strengthened the Chinese Empire and her dynasty.
The three small porcelain objects illustrated span this period and were sold at Toovey’s.

The base of the Chinese blue and white saucer dish is marked with the underglaze blue six-character seal mark of Daoguang. It is delicately decorated in reverse with a five clawed dragon writhing above a rough sea. The articulation of movement is particularly fine for this date and the dish sold for £6000.

A Chinese famille rose porcelain tea bowl, mark of Tongzhi, height 2 inches

The delicate Chinese famille rose porcelain tea bowl is finely painted with a continuous frieze depicting the eight immortals in a garden. It realised £3200. The legendary eight immortals were thought to bestow life and destroy evil. The iron red six-character mark on the base is that of Tongzhi.

A Chinese yellow ground famille rose medallion bowl, mark of Guangxu, diameter 6 inches

Medallion bowls were popular Imperial pieces from the 18th century onwards. This 19th century example, bearing the underglaze blue six-character mark for Guangxu, is beautifully decorated with three circular medallions filled with a recumbent goat, a lamb and an ox, each beneath a tree in landscapes. The fine Imperial yellow enamelled sgraffito ground is decorated with precious objects.
The 19th century Chinese Qing Emperors shared their ancestors’ fascination with the finest porcelain. These 19th century examples, discovered and sold in the heart of Sussex, are increasingly attracting the attention of international collectors including those from Hong Kong and mainland China.

Toovey’s Director, Tom Rowsell, is preparing his next specialist auction of fine Chinese porcelain which will be held on Thursday 5th December 2019. Entries are still being invited. Tom is always delighted to share his passion for Chinese porcelain with others and offer advice. He can be contacted on 01903 891955.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Exceptional Thomas Sheraton Table Discovered in Sussex

Lot 2100 An important Regency mahogany revolving library table after a design by Thomas Sheraton

An exceptional Regency mahogany revolving library table, after a design by one of the most famous and important names in English furniture history, Thomas Sheraton, has been entered for sale at Toovey’s Auctioneers by a Sussex collector.

The table bears many of the hallmarks of the manufacturer Gillows of Lancaster who made furniture for the Duke of Norfolk at Arundel.

The table will be auctioned by Toovey’s at their Spring Gardens, Washington salerooms on Friday 8th November 2019 and carries a pre-sale estimate of £20,000-£30,000 (plus B.P.)