August 2014 Postcard Auction Sale Report

Henfield Station at Toovey's Auction
'Henfield Station' postcard, sold for £120

Toovey’s auction of Paper Collectables on 12th August included 146 lots of postcards. With only three lots failing to sell, there is no shortage of talking points:

Partridge Green Station at Toovey's
'Partridge Green Station', sold for £110

Private collectors went loco for a small group of individual postcards of Sussex railway platforms. No less than four successful collectors express-ed an interest, each chuffed with their purchases, once again proving the Sussex postcard market is far from station-ary! Bad puns aside, £120 was paid for an RP of ‘Henfield Station’ with a steam engine entering the now-vanished station. The exact same view with small loss to one corner only made £30, reinforcing the difference condition makes to the private collector. RP views of ‘Partridge Green Station’, ‘The Station, Southwater’ and a different view of ‘Henfield Railway Station’ each sold for £110.

Embroidered silk postcard, from an album that sold for £1500
Embroidered silk postcard, from an album that sold for £1500

Topographical postcards were popular throughout the auction but Sussex views continued to steal the headlines. An RP titled ‘Sussex Pruning Camp’, offered with a similar RP, sold for £95. A group of 4 postcards of Partridge Green, including a scarce RP of ‘Jolesfield Windmill’, achieved £140. A similar group of 13 postcards of nearby Cowfold and Shermanbury realised £240 and 31 postcards of Henfield sold for £420. All of these lots went to private collectors.

Outside of the Sussex scene, notable prices included 8 postcards of Barnes and Isleworth, which topped £120. An album of 52 postcards of the Channel Islands, predominantly Jersey, went at £320. A group of 160 of Middlesex reached £340 and £20 was paid for a slightly faded RP of ‘Finchley Rd Station’. A private collection of postcards published by LL performed well too, including a 286-postcard collection of London, which sold for £480.

Little Nap the Chimpanzee postcard, sold for £60
Little Nap, sold for £60

Topography was not the only area of interest. Leading the fray at £1500 was an album of 74 postcards, including a brilliant selection of regimental embroidered silks, which went to an internet bidder despite the busy room. One of the surprising results of the sale came in the form of a single RP of ‘Little Nap’, a chimpanzee dressed-up as Napoleon, which, after a battle between a private collector and the internet, sold for £60 in the room.

1 of 6 by Brunelleschi postcards, sold for £380
Brunelleschi postcards, sold for £380

A good selection of Art Nouveau, Art Deco and glamour postcards also attracted serious interest and stiff competition among bidders. A group of 6 Art Nouveau colour postcards by Umberto Brunelleschi was hotly contested, largely due to their great condition, selling at £380, just over £60 per postcard and nearly double their mid pre-sale estimate. 4 Italian Art Deco postcards by M. Montedoro achieved £130 and 9 postcards by Raphael Kirchner realised £160.

Arguably among the scarcest of postcards included in the auction was a large group of composite puzzle postcards, divided into 11 lots. Highlights included a set of 4 colour printed postcards titled ‘Fridtjof Nansen Nord Polar-Expedition’, which sold to a collector at £130, and a set of 6 French hand-coloured postcards of Barnum Circus, which went for £140. To view all the previous sale results click here.

Toovey’s next auction of Paper Collectables, including postcards, stamps, cigarette cards, photographs, autographs and ephemera, will be held on 4th November 2014. Whilst this auction has now deadlined,  four have been scheduled for 2015 due to the popularity of the Paper Collectable auctions at Toovey’s. Contact us to discuss your postcard collection for one of our future specialist sales.

By Nicholas Toovey, a member of the Postcard Traders Association. Originally published as a Sale Report in Picture Postcard Monthly October 2014 issue.

Art & Objects Transforming Lives at Pallant House Gallery

The Queen Anne town-house and the new wing of Pallant House Gallery in Chichester

I am always humbled and delighted by the ability of art to transform and enrich our lives. It is for this reason that a team of Toovey’s specialist valuers will be at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester on the afternoon of Monday 29th September 2014, to offer free pre-sale valuations and advice on selling your fine art, antiques and collectables by auction. A third of the seller’s commission for items subsequently auctioned by Toovey’s will be donated to Pallant House to help with the gallery’s important work.

Engaging with art can often reveal to us something of our world beyond our own perception. The process of creating art can enable us to understand something of ourselves, giving voice to where we have come from, where we are and where we would like to be. Pallant House Gallery provides opportunities for art to affect us in both these ways, through its world-class exhibitions, its Learning and Community Programme and its work with the ‘Outside In’ project.

Pallant House has been referred to as ‘a jewel’ and ‘one of the most important galleries for British modern art in the country’. It opened in its present incarnation to national critical acclaim in July 2006. The remarkable £8.6 million build project, which took nearly three years to complete, seamlessly married the original Queen Anne, Grade I listed town-house and the new wing, quadrupling its exhibition space.

Pallant House’s pioneering Learning and Community Programme gives people of all ages and abilities the chance to explore their enjoyment of art. Outside In was founded by the gallery in 2006 with the aim of establishing a platform for artists who have a desire to create but who see themselves as facing a barrier to the art world for reasons including health, disability and social circumstance. The goal of the project is to create an unprejudiced environment which rejects traditional values and institutional judgements about whose work can and should be displayed.

At the heart of Outside In is an avoidance of labelling and there are no set criteria for an artist’s inclusion. Marc Steene, Executive Director at Pallant House Gallery, has spearheaded the project, describing it as a ‘gentle revolution, designed to enable a fairer art world where all who create have an equal opportunity to sit at the table and have their work seen and valued’. In 2013, Outside In won a prestigious Charity Award in the Arts, Culture, and Heritage category.

It is the qualities of community and outreach which lend this fantastic organisation a vibrant quality and give soul to this important regional art gallery.

I will be at Pallant House with a group of fellow Toovey’s experts offering a range of specialisms, including fine paintings and sculpture, European and Oriental ceramics, jewellery and medals, clocks and watches, collectors’ toys, military items and antique firearms and edged weapons. No appointment is necessary; just turn up with your treasures and we will be pleased to provide free auction valuations and advice. If your items are difficult to transport, bring photographs, email images to Toovey’s beforehand or telephone to make an appointment for one of us to visit your home on another day. For more information, please contact Toovey’s.

I am really looking forward to being at Pallant House Gallery, 9 North Pallant, Chichester, PO19 1TJ, on Monday 29th September between 1pm and 5pm. Perhaps your art, antiques and collectables will transform not only your own life but the lives of others through this fundraising event!

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 24th September 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.

Tolerance and Fairness at the Heart of a Nation

An engraving of Queen Elizabeth I by Crispijn van de Passe I, published in 1592

There has been much debate around national identity in relation to the forthcoming vote this week on whether Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom. The undisputed qualities of the Scottish people and their contribution to our nation’s history have rightly been celebrated. Nations, like families and communities, are bound together by the telling of these shared stories – a common narrative of joy and sorrow.

These debates have caused me to consider what the English bring to our nation. For me, one of our major contributions is the way in which the story of our island’s life, history and Christian faith is articulated and marked by the Church of England in each generation. It is from the Church that the qualities of tolerance and fairness come, qualities which shape our national character.

Richard Hooker’s ‘Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie’, printed in 1666

I am proud that tolerance and fairness are still to be found at the heart of our nation. These qualities 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.

The Holy Bible published in London in 1619. The binding is embroidered satin

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 Royal Injunctions ensured much continuity with the practices of the Roman Catholic past. These included requirements that ministers wear vestments and use wafers in the place of baker’s bread.

A photograph of Queen Elizabeth II by Sir Cecil Beaton

It was the famous Anglican theologian Richard Hooker (1554-1600), in ‘Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie’, who emphasised the importance of reason, tolerance and the value of tradition, which are at the heart of the English nation and her Church.

What this means in practice is that our common narrative, our tradition, allows us to be confident of who we are. Reason allows for open-minded and open-hearted questioning and for difference of opinion. Together the two afford us tolerance and we can celebrate diversity and difference in a spirit of love and understanding, rather than fear and ignorance.

These qualities have blessed our nation and our Church. It is my prayer that we will allow these qualities to be central to our continued, shared national story. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II still holds the title ‘Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England’, fitting as we live in a nation which aspires to tolerance and fairness in this second great Elizabethan age.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 17th September 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.

Following in the Footsteps of Picasso to Provence

A collection of Picasso Madoura editions ceramics, from left to right: ‘Bunch with Apple’, ‘Bull and Picador’ and ‘Two Dancers’

I’m just back from my holidays in the south of France following in the footsteps of Pablo Picasso, who in the summer of 1946, while staying with his friend, the engraver Louis Fort, decided to visit the annual potters’ exhibition in the provincial village of Vallauris in Provence. There he met Suzanne and Georges Ramié, the founders of the Madoura workshop, who were keen to persuade him to come to Vallauris.

Rupert Toovey admires the Pablo Picasso bronze ‘L’Homme au Mouton’ in the square outside the Musée National Picasso, Vallauris
A Pablo Picasso white earthenware 'Face in an Oval' dish

Picasso returned in July 1947, bringing his extraordinary imagination and creative energy to ceramics. He was first attracted by the large, almost rectangular dishes in the workshop. Here Picasso took the everyday and transformed it into high art, painting and incising with a richness of expression which still causes my heart to race. Favourite themes included figures, bullfights, still lifes and faces, as depicted on the plates, jug and dish illustrated here. In each you see the free, graphic rhythm which typifies Picasso’s ceramics. These pieces are Picasso Madoura editions. They were made in two ways; the first involved making an authentic replica of an original work by exactly repeating the size and decoration. The second method transferred an original subject, by means of an engraved, hardened plaster mould, to a fresh ceramic sheet, which would be applied in order to take a clay impression. These editions are authenticated by a stamp to the base. Their close connection with Picasso’s hand, like a handmade print, attracts the attention of an international group of collectors. Prices are strong. The dish ‘Face in an Oval’ was produced around 1955, number 74 in an edition of 100. It sold at Toovey’s for £3,400. The plate ‘Two Dancers’, from an edition of 450, and the jug ‘Bull and Picador’, one of 500 copies, were both made in 1956 and would realize around £8,000 and £3,500 respectively at auction today. Picasso’s relationship with Madoura and the Ramiés grew and between 1948 and 1955 Picasso lived at Vallauris before moving to Cannes.

A Pablo Picasso white earthenware 'Vallauris' dish

Picasso resurrected the ancient tradition of the all-round artist, exploring painting, sculpture, graphic art, engraving and ceramics. He revived the tradition of the Renaissance artist, many of whom worked in a variety of these disciplines and sometimes even as architects. Picasso delighted in the craft of the ceramicist and quickly began to talk with the Ramiés using the technical language of the potter. The Ramiés, for their part, indulged the often extremely unorthodox practices of the artist, including his forms, his glazes and his methods of firing. Take, as an example, the plate ‘Bunch with Apple’, made in 1956 in an edition of 400; it was decorated with oxidized paraffin. A plate like this would realise around £3,000 at auction today.

The white earthenware ‘Vallauris’ round dish, dated 1956, has an impressed mark and is numbered 42/100. With its marvellous abstract faces, it sold in a Toovey’s specialist sale for £7,400, despite being broken and repaired.

You approach the Musée National Picasso at Vallauris through a square filled with shops and restaurants. Amid the life of the village stands the Picasso bronze ‘L’Homme au Mouton’, given by the artist in 1949. Inside the museum there is a jewel-like array of original ceramics made by Picasso, guarded fiercely by the museum staff. The pieces have a life to them which speaks to my heart with a sense of joy. I have a real feeling of the effect that the light and warmth of Provence had on Picasso after the war years in Paris.

The vitality of Pablo Picasso’s oeuvre has the power to move collectors across continents.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 10th September 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.

Barbara Rae and the R.A. Printmakers at Pallant House Gallery

Barbara Rae, Harbour Night, 2005, etching and collagraph, © The Artist

I have a particular passion for prints. The diversity of techniques available to the contemporary printmaker makes this a particularly creative area for artists. Scottish artist and Royal Academician Barbara Rae accurately describes herself as both a printmaker and a painter. The use of collage and layering entwines both strands of her work. She offers the viewer what some have described as an abstracted interpretation of the world.

Barbara Rae, Hacienda, 2003, screen print, © The Artist

Barbara Rae voices real concern about how we locate ourselves in relation to the world around us. This concern is important and countercultural to the way in which technology, like satellite navigation, can disconnect us from our landscape and sense of place in the world. Her work holds in tension what we perceive and what is beyond, the colours creating a spatial ambiguity. Rae remains an experimental painter and printmaker, seeking new ways to communicate her vision of the world. Patterns in the landscape are revealed in the patterns in her prints. Take, for example, the lines drawing together the composition in ‘Harbour Night’, as though woven in the scenery. Together with the rich, layered colours they create rhythm and life in the image. ‘Barbara Rae: Prints’ is a jewel-like exhibition, which allows us to understand the artist’s mastery of printing techniques as diverse as etching, collotype and screen printing. It runs at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 26th October 2014.

Eileen Cooper, Skipper, 2009, woodcut, © The Artist

Also on show at Pallant House, until 19th October, is a selection of twelve newly acquired prints, which feature in another exhibition, titled ‘Royal Academician Printmakers: New acquisitions through the Golder-Thompson Gift’. It spotlights the generosity and vision of Mark Golder and Brian Thompson, who have given some one hundred and sixty works by contemporary R.A. printmakers to the Pallant House Gallery Collection. The works in this exhibition encompass a variety of different printmaking techniques, including wood engraving, aquatint, silkscreen and several types of intaglio printing, which include etching, engraving, polymer and gravure. Among my favourites is Eileen Cooper’s ‘Skipper’. This woodcut print has a compelling folk narrative, told through her lovely use of line. It is at once playful and contemporary.

These two exhibitions beautifully explore and demonstrate printmaking as an art form in its own right. But these two shows, like printmaking itself, are also highly democratic, as these images are to be shared and celebrated by many.

For more information on these exhibitions go to or telephone 01243 774557.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 3rd September 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.