Rendel Williams Collection

Lot 3125 – Chailey delivery cart

Toovey’s are delighted to announce the single-owner collection of postcards from the estate of the late Rendel Williams (11 September 1941 to 12 December 2021).

Rendel Williams was a geography lecturer at the University of Sussex with a wide range of academic and personal interests connected to the Sussex landscape and history. His initial interest in collecting picture postcards was stimulated by academic research on coastal erosion where he was able to use evidence from postcards to estimate how fast the chalk cliffs had retreated over the past century. As a nature reserve manager with the Sussex Wildlife Trust he also used evidence from old postcards to show how the vegetation of the South Downs was changing and how sheep grazing needed to be reinstated to restore areas of open grassland suitable for rare orchids and butterflies.

Lot 3165 Sheep-shearing at Fulking

His professional interest in postcards soon became an absorbing hobby. At first, he limited himself to collecting images of agricultural scenes, but his interests spread to cover landscapes, buildings, transport and tourism, always in the county of Sussex. His collection grew to over 10,000 postcards.

Lot 3131 -One of a group of four postcards of Suffragists at Clayton

In studying the postcards, he became interested in the lives of the photographers the publishers who made them. He researched the background of all of the publishers and photographers in his collection, for which biographical details can be found on his website The website has become a well used historical and geographical record and will be preserved in posterity.

Lot 3230 Steam Roller accident at Littlehampton

Rendel gained great pleasure from collecting postcards and saw each one as a puzzle requiring historical and biographical interpretation. He spent many happy hours scouring postcard fairs and auctions for unusual and rare images. Meticulously assembled over more than three decades, you now have the opportunity to purchase his collection grouped into lots by locality and theme.

Toovey’s and the Williams Family would like to thank Bob Cairns for his kind assistance in sorting the collection.

The online catalogue for the first part of the collection is available here.

Sussex Prairie Gardens Wins Prestigious Architectural Awards

The Sussex Prairie Gardens in full bloom

This week I am in the company of Pauline and Paul McBride at their Sussex Prairie Gardens.

Pauline can barely contain her excitement “The garden is special at the moment – full of flowers, the wonderful mass planting with swathes of grasses, Echinacea and Rudbeckia. It’s beautiful to walk through the borders and get up close with the plants. The gentle breeze gives movement to the garden. It’s a visual spectacle, a sensory overload with the sound of the insects, the scent and touch of the plants. I walk the garden every morning and it still takes my breath away.”

Their home, Morlands Farm Dutch Barn and the Tower have just been celebrated taking home South East Award Winner, Small Project of the Year and Client of the Year in RIBA’s 2022 South East Regional Awards, and a coveted Sussex Heritage Trust Award.

Sandy Rendel Architects converted a Dutch Barn into a new home for Pauline and Paul. Pauline is full of praise for Sandy Rendel and Robert Longley of Cranbrook Iron in Kent.

Pauline explains “Paul and Rob built the tower over the period of a week – a true labour of love – handmade!” Reminiscent of an agricultural grain silo the viewing tower encapsulates the joyful nature of this architectural project and the gardens.

Paul and Pauline share their Sussex Prairie Gardens abundantly. Pauline says “The students who come to the gardens are fabulous. This year they’ve come from all over including France, China and India. I continue to be amazed by these young people and the boundless possibilities of their lives. We love working with them. We try to reach out and connect people.”

The RIBA and Sussex Heritage Award winning Morlands Farm Dutch Barn and Tower

Pauline talks about The Indian Bazaar which is at the heart of a month long festival which runs until the 4th September. She describes the scene “The marquees are overflowing with ethically commissioned and sourced decorative objects and clothing for sale – all delicious, gorgeous, shinning, and glittering.”

Friendships like communities are bound together by shared stories. It is the vision and gentle patronage of Pauline and Paul McBride, and their desire to share the joy of the garden they have created, which has brought such beauty to our built and natural landscape and a community together.

Gardens are places of blessing, invitation, hospitality and encounter, and none more so than the Sussex Prairie Gardens, Morlands Farm, Wheatsheaf Road, Henfield, West Sussex, BN5 9AT. To find out more and to plan your visit

Hidden Wines and Spirits can be Surprisingly Valuable

Toovey’s wines and spirits specialist Simon Garner

Across the ancient world wines and spirits were produced, celebrated and valued. Today wines and spirits represent one of the most competitive collectors and investment markets.

This week I am in the company of Toovey’s wine specialist, Simon Garner, who is excitedly preparing an inaugural auction of wines and spirits.
Simon explains that the wines and spirits in a home are often much more valuable than people expect. He explains “I’ve been discovering fine wines and spirits across the county. It’s exciting that so many of the clients we have will have wine hidden away in their homes that is definitely going to be of value, sometimes without them knowing it.”

I remark that it is the collectors’ markets, like wines and spirits, which are booming in today’s auction world, Simon agrees. So what should people look out for?

Simon replies “People are unaware that it is the old bottle of whiskey, not just wine which is valuable. If it was a ten year old bottle of whiskey 30 years ago its now obviously a 40 year old bottle and its worth a lot more than it was then. Look out especially for names like Macallan, Glenmorangie, Laphroaig as well as the better known whiskies.

Also any vintage Champagne, so Möet and Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Christal and other leading houses, if it’s been stored correctly, cellared, it will be of value. A lot of wines and spirits are bought as an investment.”

I ask Simon what is the most notable entry for the auction so far and he shows me a bottle of Chateau Haut-Brion from 1919.

A selection of wines entered for Toovey’s inaugural auction of wines and spirits

He says “This is a rare vintage and more than 100 years old. It’s survived a century which witnessed the Second World War and a remarkable period of social change. The paper label is M Larrieu who were owners of Château Haut-Brion between 1801 and 1922.

Château Haut-Brion is located in Pessac, Bordeaux. Jean de Pontac founded the field Haut-Brion in the sixteenth century where he built the castle and planted the vineyard. Haut-Brion continues to be recognized as one of France’s best wines.”

If you want to find out if your wines or spirits are valuable send photographs to Simon Garner at or telephone him to discuss your collection.

Simon concludes “The hidden treasure in our homes is often in the drinks cabinet, larder or cellar.”

Adventure and Science

“It is remarkable and hopeful that exploration is so often central to our human understanding”

An early 1960s American Replogle Globes Inc model of the Moon

On the 20th July 1969 Neil Armstrong stepped from the lunar module onto the surface of the Moon and spoke those famous words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. It had taken just eight years for the project to come to fulfilment after President John F Kennedy had announced America’s intention to land a man on the moon. The Apollo program began in 1963

The watch chosen by NASA and worn by the Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin throughout the mission was the Omega Speedmaster. The watch has been immortalised by this association and those examples which pre-date, or are of the time of the moon landings, command a great premium amongst collectors, like the example you see here which has just sold in a Toovey’s specialist watch sale for £11,000. The rare Omega Speedmaster chronograph steel cased gentleman’s bracelet wristwatch, Ref. 2998-61, dates from around 1962 and has the famous signed and jewelled 321 caliber movement.

A rare 1962 Omega Speedmaster chronograph steel cased gentleman’s bracelet wristwatch

It is hard to imagine that humanity had no understanding of the dark of the side of the Moon. Because of the Moon’s orbit in relation to our own it was hidden from view here on Earth. In 1959 the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft took a series of images and it was not until 1965 that the Soviet Zond 3 probe once again photographed the far side of the Moon.

The printed tin model of the Moon was manufactured by the American company Replogle Globes Inc and produced by its Director Robert I. Johnson. It dates from the early1960s like the Omega Speedmaster. The far side of the Moon is blank on this globe illustrating the gap in the West’s understanding.

There was a nobility of purpose in this lunar exploration which gave voice to that human desire to understand our world, the universe and our place in it – though there can be no doubt that the urgency and catalyst that drove it was the rivalry between two world superpowers.

It seems that we may be witnessing a new space race with China’s ambitions to voyage to our neighbouring planets matched by the renaissance of America’s desire to send humankind into space once again.

Objects which tangibly connect us to the procession of human history are always prized by antiquarians and successive generations of collectors.

It is remarkable and hopeful that exploration is so often central to our human understanding of our world and the universe we inhabit; something which the Apollo missions embody so eloquently.

Design and Artistry at Wedgwood

A rare, large Wedgwood pottery jardinière painted by Alfred H Powell, height 32cm

As the important ceramic manufacturer Wedgwood entered the 20th century there was a desire to maintain its association with the design and manufacture of art wares.

By the end of the 19th century the influence of William Morris’s Arts and Crafts Movement had established a widespread enthusiasm for design and decoration based on its traditional craftsmanship and simple forms. The movement was deeply informed by the romantic socialism of John Ruskin and William Morris which responded to the often harsh realities of 19th century industrialised work by advocating a return to an age of ‘free’ craftsmen.

So, when the Arts and Crafts architect, designer and artist Alfred H Powell (1865-1960) sent a series of designs to Wedgwood in 1903 they quickly realised their potential.

Powell had studied and worked for J D Sedding in his architectural practice. He was heavily influenced by Sedding who had been an early advocate for the Arts and Crafts Movement and its principles. Powell would work there as an architect until 1892.

Ill health led Powell to spend time abroad, though he lived for a short time in Guildford, Surrey.

In 1901 he moved to Sapperton in Gloucestershire to join his friends Ernest Gimson and the Barnsley brothers. Together they established the Cotswold Group with workshops at Pinbury.

Powell’s successful approach to Wedgwood ensured a broader audience for the arts and crafts aesthetic. With great skill he adapted its style and principles to suit the demands of industrial production. His influence brought about a revival of hand painting at Wedgwood’s Etruria factory not only on art ware, like the 1930s delicately decorated jardinière painted by Powell himself with its naturalistic landscapes and flowers, but also for large scale production tablewares.

A rare Wedgwood Art Deco pale blue Jasperware Bicentenary Competition vase, designed by Emmanuel Tjerne, height 48cm

The factory’s founder Josiah Wedgwood was famous for his vitreous jasperwares in the late 18th century which he decorated in the Neo-Classical taste.
Jasperware decoration was re-interpreted in the Art Deco taste by the Danish glass designer Emmanuel Tjerne to win Wedgwood’s international competition to design a vase to mark the bicentenary of Josiah’s birth in 1930. The vases were produced in a very small edition of about sixteen and were given to the judges and designer.

The Wedgwood Powell jardinière and Tjerne’s vase sold in Toovey’s specialist ceramic sales for £1800 and £2500 respectively proving that when design and artistry come together, as it did at Wedgwood in the early 20th century, it is always celebrated by collectors.