A new world record at auction of £66,000 has just been set at Toovey’s Washington salerooms for a Louis Vuitton ‘explorer’s’ ‘malle cabine’ trunk discovered by their specialist William Rowsell.
Toovey’s specialist William Rowsell has established the saleroom’s reputation as leaders in the auction of Louis Vuitton trunks.
This early trunk was beautifully crafted but quite plain in comparison to later examples. the inscribed name and initials to the top and sides are believed to relate to Dr Edward Percival Dickin. Born in Yorkshire in 1871, he studied in Paris and worked in Northampton Hospital.
The famous Louis Vuitton LV was not used until 1896. All Louis Vuitton trunks are numbered and the original paper label, no. ‘37942’, in the interior confirmed its authenticity and date.
The early story of Louis Vuitton is a romantic one caught up with the industrial and political revolutions of 19th century France. The company’s founder, Louis Vuitton, spent his early childhood in Anchay in the Jura region on the eastern borders of France. The 1830s witnessed a significant migration in France from countryside to city. In 1835 the thirteen year old Louis Vuitton left home. It took him two years to walk the 292 miles to Paris as he worked to feed himself along the way. He arrived in the city in 1837. These qualities of determination and hard work would inform his life and success.
At the age of sixteen Louis Vuitton was taken on as an apprentice in the workshop of the successful packer and box maker Monsieur Marechal where he quickly gained a reputation for his abilities in this fashionable field of enterprise.
In 1854 he married Clemence-Emile Parriaux and left Marechal to found Louis Vuitton. To begin with he specialized in packing fashions and fragile objects. It was not until 1858 that he introduced his revolutionary rectangular, stackable trunks. They were an immediate success and the business expanded.
Napolean III and the French Empire was re-established in 1852 and Louis Vuitton was hired as the personal box maker to the Empress of France, Eugine de Montijo.
Louis Vuitton’s son George Vuitton would build on his father’s reputation and establish Louis Vuitton as a worldwide company.
The story of the founder, Louis Vuitton, together with the beautiful craftsmanship which he established ensure that the earliest and rarest examples of the company’s work attract international attention at auction and underpin the continued reputation of this luxury brand today.