Five Lot Preview of the Toovey’s August Auction

Lot 2200
A pair of late 19th century Louis XV style kingwood marquetry and parquetry card tables at Toovey's August Auction
Lot 3023

Ahead of Toovey’s auction on the 12th, 13th, 14th & 15th August, we look at five lots that will feature in the summer sale.

The Specialist Sale of Paper Collectables is the largest to date and boasts some fantastic quality items, including the Great Britain 1882 5 shilling rose on blued paper Plate 4, used. Offered as Lot 3023, this single stamp carries a presale estimate of £500-600.

Lot 1025
Lot 1050

The Asian & Islamic Ceramics & Works of Art Specialist Auction includes two interesting highlights: Lot 1025 is a large Chinese archaistic bronze hu vase, in the Han style but 16th century, height 42.5cm, estimate £2000-3000. Lot 1050 is a Chinese white jade vase and cover, probably late Qing dynasty, height 15.8cm, estimate £800-1200.

Lot 1494

A Troika pottery two-face mask, Lot 1494, is one of the highlights of the British & Continental Ceramics & Glass auction. Each side is decorated with a relief mask motif and was produced circa 1970-1983. It carries a pre-sale estimate of £300-500.

The Furniture auction includes a pair of late 19th century Louis XV style kingwood marquetry and parquetry card tables. This pair, Lot 2200, is estimated at £2000-4000.

The catalogue for the auction will be available online by 7th August at

Viewing for the August Auction as follows:

Saturday 9th August: 10am to 4pm
Monday 11th August: 10am to 4pm
Tuesday 12th August: 10am to 4pm (10am to 1pm for the Paper Collectables)
Wednesday 13th to Friday 15th: 9am to the start of each session.

Order of sales for the August Auction as follows:

Sale of Paper Collectables

Tuesday 12th August
At 1.30pm Stamps. Postcards. Cigarette Cards.
Autographs, Photographs & Ephemera.

Sale of Antiques, Fine Art & Collectors’ Items

Wednesday 13th August
At 10am Decorative Art.
At 1pm Silver & Plate. Jewellery. Objects of Virtu.

Thursday 14th August
At 10am Asian & Islamic Ceramics & Works of Art.
At 1pm British & Continental Ceramics & Glass.

Friday 15th August
At 10am
At 1.30pm Tea Caddies, Boxes & Diminuitive Furniture.
Collectors’ Items, Works of Art, Metalwork & Light Fittings.
Needleworks & Textiles. Rugs & Carpets.

Jonathan Chiswell Jones at Chichester Cathedral

Jonathan Chiswell Jones
“To Everything There is a Season and a Time for Every Purpose under the Heavens” by Jonathan Chiswell Jones

I have long admired the work of Sussex based potter Jonathan Chiswell Jones. An exhibition of his ceramics, titled “Earth, Fire, Gold: Elemental Beauty by Jonathan Chiswell Jones”, is being held at Chichester Cathedral until 14th September 2014.

Last week I wrote about one of our nation’s most famous potters, William de Morgan, who had such a formative influence on the 19th century Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain and a strong association with William Morris. He produced lustre wares, finding inspiration in Persian and Hispano-Moresque ceramics.

Like de Morgan before him, Jonathan Chiswell Jones is a master of carefully integrated patterns. These designs employ motifs drawn from nature, as in the dishes shown here with their reserve panels of flowers and fish.

Fish Bowl by Jonathan Chiswell Jones
Fish Bowl by Jonathan Chiswell Jones

William Morris famously said: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Good advice! Jonathan acknowledges the influence of the ideas of John Ruskin and the example of William Morris and says, “My aim is to make practical and beautiful porcelain and lustreware for use in the home. Making lustreware is a process of hand and head and heart; it is the challenge of practising a craft which utilises all my faculties.”

The dish inscribed “To Everything There is a Season and a Time for Every Purpose under the Heavens” draws its inspiration from that wonderful passage in the Old Testament from Ecclesiastes, chapter three, which has given such comfort to successive generations when they pause to reflect on the seasons of our human lives. The verses describe how God gives each of us things to do in his purpose and how we are to enjoy life as a gift of His Grace.

Born in Calcutta in 1944, Jonathan Chiswell Jones first saw pottery being made on the banks of the Hooghly River, where potters were making disposable teacups from river clay. He was one of Lewis Creed’s pupils. Lewis Creed was a young art teacher at Ashfold School, Handcross, who wanted to introduce his pupils to the joys of making pottery. Inspired by these early contacts with clay, Chiswell Jones has worked as a professional potter for the past forty years. In 1998, he was given an award by Arts Training South, which encouraged him to go on a course about ceramic lustre. He began to experiment with the thousand-year-old technique used by Middle Eastern potters to fuse a thin layer of silver or copper onto the surface of a glaze. This layer, protected by the glaze, then reflects light, hence the term ‘lustre.’ The lustreware on show at Chichester Cathedral demonstrates its continuing ability to capture our imaginations. Clay and glaze, metal and fire combine to produce pots which reflect light and colour, a process in which base metal seems to be turned to gold. Jonathan Chiswell Jones notes: “I am proud to stand in this lustreware tradition, with its roots in the Islamic empire of the 10th century, its appearance in Spain and Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries, its revival in the 19th century by Theodore Dec in France and by Zolnay in Hungary, and in this country by William De Morgan, and more recently by Alan Caiger-Smith.”

15th century Bell-Arundel Screen
The 15th century Bell-Arundel Screen restored to the Cathedral in 1960 in memory of the life of Bishop George Bell by Rev. Walter Hussey

How fitting that, following in such an ancient tradition, Jonathan Chiswell Jones’ work should be displayed in our timeless Chichester Cathedral. William Morris defined art as “man’s expression of his joy in labour”. There can be no doubt that creating beauty in the world is part of our human purpose in this life.

“Earth, Fire, Gold: Elemental Beauty by Jonathan Chiswell Jones” is being held in Chichester Cathedral’s Treasury (next to the North Transept) until Sunday 14th September 2014. While you are there, take a moment to go to the Southern Ceramic Group Summer Exhibition in the Bishop’s Kitchen, adjacent to the Cathedral, sponsored by Toovey’s Fine Art Auctioneers.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 30th July 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.

William de Morgan and Ulisse Cantagalli

Cantagalli dish
A rare Cantagalli dish, late 19th century, decorated in coloured enamels after Benozzo Gozzoli's frescoes in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi. Although broken and glued, the dish was sold at Toovey’s for £5,200
William de Morgan Tile
A William de Morgan tile, late 19th century, decorated with two flowers in the Gillow pattern, and a similar tile, sold at Toovey’s for £320

In the late 19th century the Italian manufacturer Cantagalli reinterpreted earlier Italian Renaissance maiolica pottery. These earthenware pieces found particular favour with English collectors. Perhaps this was in part due to the friendship between Ulisse Cantagalli (1839-1901) and England’s leading pottery designer, William de Morgan (1839-1917).

William de Morgan ruby lustre dish
A William de Morgan ruby lustre dish, late 19th century, sold at Toovey’s for £1,600

Ulisse and his brother Giuseppe produced these pieces from 1878 at their pottery near Florence. They also produced lustre wares inspired by Persian and Hispano-Moresque ceramics. The lustre wares were particularly admired by William de Morgan.

William de Morgan had a formative influence on the Arts and Crafts Movement. He trained at the Royal Academy of Arts. In the early 1860s he was associated with William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelite artists Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. He began to produce his famous tiles and pottery in London in 1869. In 1882 he moved his workshop to William Morris’s site at Merton Abbey on the River Wandle in south-west London, staying until 1888, when he left to set up a factory in Fulham.

Cantagalli ruby lustre jug
A Cantagalli ruby lustre jug, late 19th century, sold at Toovey’s for £180

Reacting against the Victorian fashion for 18th century style vases decorated with botanical studies, Chinese designs and the Gothic Revival, de Morgan found inspiration in the Persian and Hispano-Moresque. His tiles and vessels were decorated in lustre or the Persian palette of green, black and turquoise, as shown in the pair of tiles illustrated here. A master of carefully integrated patterns, his designs included animals, fishes, Grecian ships and, as in the case of the illustrated dish, birds and leaves. The subjects of these spirited motifs, although stylized, are clearly recognisable. They are rich in their effect. The Cantagalli ruby lustre jug once again shows the influence of the Persian. From 1892 onwards, William de Morgan spent his winters in Florence and worked with Cantagalli.

The rare late 19th century Cantagalli dish illustrated was decorated after Benozzo Gozzoli’s frescoes in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence. Depicting the Journey of the Magi, these frescoes were painted on the chapel walls in the hot summer of 1459 and made brilliant by the artist’s use of gold and azure. The scenes provided the opportunity for Gozzoli to paint a pageant of Medici portraits, set in the Tuscan landscape. Cantagalli’s late 19th century interpretation of these paintings is also rich and vibrant in its use of coloured enamels.

How extraordinary that the Cantagalli factory’s fortunes should flourish in England, thanks to the shared inspiration, interests and friendship of two potters and the reputation and work of the Arts and Crafts potter William de Morgan.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 23rd July 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.

A Maori carved hardwood waka huia at Toovey’s

A Maori carved hardwood waka huia or feather box at Toovey's
A Maori carved hardwood waka huia or feather box at Toovey's

A fascinating piece of colonial history went under the hammer at Toovey’s Spring Gardens saleroom last month, in the form of an early 19th century Maori ‘waka huia’ or feather box. The boat-shaped hardwood box with carved decoration, length 43cm, was a rare and unusual thing to find in a Sussex auction.

Detail of the waka huia
Detail of the waka huia

Waka huia were so-named because the striking black and white tail feathers of the huia, the largest species of the New Zealand wattlebird, were highly valued by Maoris and used for personal adornment. These feathers and other prized and sacred effects would have been kept in the box, which would have been suspended from the ceiling of the owner’s home, out of the reach of children. For this reason, as much attention was given to the decoration on the underside as to that on the top. To Maori families, waka huia were important objects in themselves. They were lovingly carved in each family style and handed down through generations. Sometimes they were given away as presents to mark friendships, tribal affiliations or special occasions. Probably crafted around 1810-20, this particular example had an interesting addition – the underside of the lid was inscribed ‘George Hawthorn 1830’ in yellow paint. Little is known about Hawthorn but he may well have been one of the explorers, sailors, traders, missionaries or government officials who visited the Antipodes regularly at this time. The vendor of the waka huia believed that Hawthorn was a distant relative and the box had been passed down through her family, just as in Maori tradition. It was not the most elaborately carved example but the curvilinear decoration was nicely done and each end had a handle in the form of a stylized head. Unfortunately, both of these had at some point been broken off and glued back on. The lid was also split in two and in need of expert restoration. None of this put off a London specialist dealer, one of seven telephone bidders up against a host of live internet bidders around the world participating in the sale at Toovey’s, who was pleased to secure the box at the hammer price of £8,500.

Rolls-Royce & Bentley Day at Borde Hill Garden

Rolls Royce Bentley Borde Hill
A magnificent vintage Rolls-Royce and Bentley on the lawns of Borde Hill

Borde Hill Garden holds its Rolls-Royce and Bentley Day this coming Sunday, 20th July 2014. The gardens will be complimented by cars from these famous marques, vehicles which have often been called ‘the best cars in the world.’

Rolls-Royce 20hp Sedanca
Rupert Toovey’s great-grandfather’s Rolls-Royce 20 h.p. Sedanca

I grew up in a family passionate about motoring and cars, especially from the vintage era. Amongst the numerous stories was that of my great-grandfather’s Rolls-Royce 20 h.p. Sedanca. I have often wondered from this photograph of the car with his chauffeur whether it was bodied by the coachbuilders Hooper. In Rolls-Royce’s catalogue of 1905 the company wrote: “Doctors and others connected with the medical profession have, after trying the leading makes, declared the Rolls-Royce to be the only petrol car that they could bring up to a patient’s house and drive away without the possibility of disturbing the patient.” This may have been a tempting marketing quote for my great-grandfather, Edwin Hopewell-Ash, an eminent physician-neurologist and member of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Borde Hill
Andrewjohn and Eleni Stephenson Clarke at Borde Hill

Henry Royce was a gifted engineer of my great-grandfather’s generation. He had a particular gift for perfecting the design and manufacture in areas of emerging technology. Royce refined the multi-cylinder engine, addressing the noise, vibration and inflexibility of other marques’ earlier engines. The Rolls-Royce motor company has its origins in the 1904 partnership between Royce and the motoring and aviation pioneer Charles Stewart Rolls.

Andrewjohn Stephenson Clarke and his wife, Eleni, are the current custodians of Borde Hill. This weekend brings together the threads and passions of Andrewjohn’s life – the gardens and engineering. He is himself a leading civil and computer engineer.

With Rolls-Royce now located at Chichester in West Sussex, it seems particularly appropriate that this famous marque’s heritage should be celebrated in this way in our county. Borde Hill Garden has many rare and remarkable plants; it is an exceptional living collection.

This weekend there is a treat in store for motoring and garden enthusiasts alike at Borde Hill Garden, Borde Hill Lane, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 1XP. For more information on opening times and forthcoming events go to or telephone 01444 450326.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 16th July 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.