£26,000 for Louis Vuitton Trunk

A rare Louis Vuitton zinc covered cabin trunk (malle cabine), circa 1895, the interior with original printed label numbered '44...' sold for £26,000
A rare Louis Vuitton zinc covered cabin trunk (malle cabine), circa 1895, the interior with original printed label numbered ’44…’ sold for £26,000

You never know what will be brought to the salerooms for valuation. Recently an old trunk was brought to Toovey’s for valuation and sale. The owner’s hopes were confirmed, when it was identified as a rare early Louis Vuitton ‘malle cabine’ trunk dating from around 1895. It sold last week for £26,000.

The famous Louis Vuitton ‘LV’ monogram decoration was not introduced until 1896 as part of George Vuitton’s worldwide expansion of the firm. This early example was beautifully crafted but quite plain in comparison to the George Vuitton’s trunks. All Louis Vuitton trunks are numbered and it was the original numbered paper label in the interior which confirmed its authenticity and value.

The early story of Louis Vuitton is a romantic one caught up with the industrial and political revolutions of 19th century France. Its 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.

A Louis Vuitton travelling trunk with overall LV monogram decoration on a brown ground and a paper label inscribed '1 Rue Scribe, Paris, Louis Vuitton, 149 New Bond St. London' and numbered '108407'
A Louis Vuitton travelling trunk with overall LV monogram decoration on a brown ground and a paper label inscribed ‘1 Rue Scribe, Paris, Louis Vuitton, 149 New Bond St. London’ and numbered ‘108407’

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 which were an immediate success and the business expanded. His reputation for boxes of the finest quality was assured.

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. This patronage and the period of urbanization and industrialization that ensured brought Europe’s elite to his firm.

The quality of Louis Vuitton’s work, his determination and hard work continued until his death in 1892. His son George Vuitton would build on his father’s foundations and establish Louis Vuitton as a worldwide company.

It was George who launched the famous LV monogram on a brown ground that you can see on the larger Louis Vuitton travelling trunk illustrated. It had a paper label to its interior inscribed ‘1 Rue Scribe, Paris, Louis Vuitton, 149 New Bond St. London’ and numbered ‘108407’. The other Louis Vuitton trunk illustrated is more reminiscent in its size and shape of the earlier plain example. It too had its original paper label. Both trunks dated from the late 19th/early 20th century and sold recently at Toovey’s for £5500 and £2200 respectively.

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.

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.

Rare Louis Vuitton trunk at Toovey’s

Advance notice: Consigned in our forthcoming sale on 6th October 2017, a rare Louis Vuitton zinc covered cabin trunk (malle cabine), circa 1895, the hinged lid and sides with brass trim, studs, side handles and locks, the top with three wooden slats above a single wooden slat to the front and back, the interior with original printed label numbered ’44’, length 88cm, height 33.5cm, depth 49cm (later painted and faults). Pre-sale estimate: £10,000-15,000.

Major Robert Hobart Mayo

Major Robert Hobart Mayo, O.B.E., M.A. (Cantab), Assoc.M.Inst.C.E., F.R.Ae.S., M.Inst.T.
Major Robert Hobart Mayo, O.B.E., M.A. (Cantab), Assoc.M.Inst.C.E., F.R.Ae.S., M.Inst.T.

Lots, 67, 731-742 in our auction on Wednesday 6th September are from the estate of the late Major Robert Hobart Mayo, O.B.E., M.A. (Cantab), Assoc.M.Inst.C.E., F.R.Ae.S., M.Inst.T., designer of the Short-Mayo Composite aircraft and a consulting engineer of long and varied experience in aeronautical engineering.

Robert Mayo joined the staff of the Royal Aircraft Factory in 1913 and became head of the experimental department. He qualified as a pilot in December 1914 and went on to serve in the Royal Flying Corps in France during the First World War. On returning to England, he became Flight Commander in the Testing Squadron at Martlesham Heath and was personally responsible for the flying trials of a wide variety of new types of aircraft. In 1917 he was appointed head of the Design (Aeroplane) Section at the Air Ministry and he retained this post until 1919, when he resigned in order to take up Consulting Engineering. He was consulting engineer and technical manager to Instone Air Lines (later Imperial Airways) from 1923 to 1924. Robert Mayo became a prominent official in competition flying; he was a timekeeper for the Schneider Trophy Contest in 1929 and chairman of the Records, Racing and Competition Committee of the Royal Aero Club in later years. He flew over one hundred different types of aircraft and had a thorough knowledge of aircraft and engines used in various commercial services.

A small section of original fabric, 4.4cm x 3.7cm, from Kitty Hawk 'Wright Flyer' with printed certification for Robert H. Mayo
A small section of original fabric, 4.4cm x 3.7cm, from Kitty Hawk ‘Wright Flyer’ with printed certification for Robert H. Mayo

Included in the Lots is a small section of original fabric, 4.4cm x 3.7cm, from Kitty Hawk ‘Wright Flyer’ with printed certification for Robert H. Mayo,  the piece of fabric was used in the first successful flight in history by Orville Wright (Lot 738).

£132,000 South Coast Discovery at Toovey’s

A pair of Chinese famille rose enamelled porcelain rectangular tea caddies
£132,000 pair of Chinese famille rose enamelled porcelain rectangular tea caddies

A pair of Chinese famille rose enamelled porcelain tea caddies, displayed on a window sill, caught the eye of a Toovey’s valuer during a routine visit to a client’s home. The caddies were subsequently brought in for sale and went under the gavel in a specialist Asian Art sale on Thursday 23rd February 2017.

These Qing dynasty caddies from the Imperial kilns were similar in shape to those made for the European export market. However, the painted blossoming branches and flowering stems accompanied by the lines of text and red seals are typically Chinese in taste, as are the profusely decorated sides with their panels of lotus flowers and tendrils. Measuring just 16.7cm in height they realised a remarkable £132,0000. Both the vendor and Toovey’s Asian Art specialist, Tom Rowsell, are delighted with the result.

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.