Our Island Nation United by a Common Story

The Revd. Canon Kathryn Windslow, Rector of Storrington, leading a Service of Remembrance accompanied by the Royal British Legion, Storrington Branch, and Royal Navy Association standard bearers, Des Knight and Richard Shenton.

Last Sunday and this week we once again reflect upon the costs of defending righteousness, freedom and liberty, giving thanks not only for our allies but also for reconciliation and peace.

The poignant image of Her Majesty The Queen laying a wreath based on her wedding bouquet at the grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, accompanied by only a handful of people, brought home the loss and separation experienced by families through war.

The Remembrance Sunday service next to the Cenotaph in Whitehall echoed this.

Outside churches across Britain, Europe and America the common story and Christian heritage which unites us was expressed in services of Remembrance and thanksgiving. Beside War Memorials across Britain these familiar bidding words were heard:

“We have come to remember before God those who have died for their country in the two world wars and the many conflicts of the years that have followed. Some we knew and loved: we treasure their memory still. Others are unknown to us: to their remembrance too, we give our time…With thanksgiving we recall services offered and sacrifices made…”

In Storrington Remembrance Sunday has become the largest Civic service of the year uniting our community across the generations. The streets are usually filled with the standards of the Royal British Legion, the Air Training Corps, the Royal Navy Association and the youth organisations as they march to St Mary’s Parish Church for a service of thanksgiving and remembrance. There is a beauty to this shared expression of love united by the common story of our island history. But this year there was a peculiar stillness as we gathered in small numbers around our village war memorial outside the church. And yet we still gathered, united in our common purpose. In the stillness the birds sang, their anthem rose as though in praise as we stood in silence.

Families, communities and nations are bound together by their shared stories; stories of both joys and sorrows. Where these memories are embraced with open hearts they seed compassion, hope, empathy and a desire to work for the common good – something which our armed forces know intuitively. And our nation is once again united by the evolving story, the shared experience of Covid-19 and lockdown.

I hope that in this week of remembrance each of us will be able to find time this week to reflect, offering thanks and prayers for the courage of successive generations who have been called, and continue to be called, to defend the greater cause of justice and concord. A service of Remembrance will be led by The Royal British Legion in Storrington High Street this Wednesday 11th November at 11.00 o’clock.

The Medicinal Reciprocal

As I’m writing this, the whole world is struggling with the dire effects of the awful Coronavirus that has caused such devastation to every aspect of our lives. There is a race to find a viable vaccine that could potentially release us all from lockdown and give us back our freedom. In the absence of that vaccine we rely on the medical care we currently have access to and put our faith in. It has been that way since records began, with medicine being an important part of our life.

Today we are used to blister packs of pills and glass bottles of medicine, but before these innovations, apothecaries – the modern day pharmacist – stored their supplies primarily in pottery receptacles. These were ideal for the storage of dry herbs or liquid remedies as they could be made in any size required, sealed with something like wax and labelled accordingly.

During the Renaissance period the role of the apothecary increased greatly as important innovations and discoveries were made in the fields of biology and human anatomy. An increased number of jars for the storage of drugs and remedies were required. An apothecary in charge of a large pharmacy attached to a monastery or palace could reasonably have around one thousand plus different drug-jars.

Lot 1255

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in particular saw these jars take on a decorative side as well as a practical. Pharmacies would have a particular armorial or motif that was applied to all jars supplied to them, and areas of production would use a particular style, glaze or colouring. Much research has been done into the many different types of drug-jars which survive to this day, and we can now with much certainty attribute styles, shapes and decoration to particular areas of Europe or even specific potteries or decorators.

Lot 1267

We are very fortunate to have in our 19th November 2020 auction of European Ceramics a private collection of tin-glazed pottery, which includes a number of drug-jars. This collection is part of that assembled by the late Professor Maurice Stacey CBE FRS, a chemist of the University of Birmingham. For his scientific work Stacey received many awards; this work included the first synthesis of vitamin C and the separation of uranium isotopes for the WW2 atomic bomb project. He was helped in the assembling of his collection by Professor F.H. Garner, also of the University of Birmingham, and a great collector of tin-glazed pottery, known as delftware. Professor Garner’s books on delftware are still widely respected today, so his influence on Professor Stacey’s collection is important.

A number of the drug-jars in the collection, or albarellos to give them their Italian name, have inscribed labels denoting specific drugs or remedies. We can only imagine the ailments and the people they may have potentially been used on 400 years ago.

The collection is available to view online here.

Rare Louis Vuitton Trunk Realises Tens of Thousands

A rare Louis Vuitton zinc covered cabin trunk (malle cabine), circa 1895, the interior with original printed label numbered ‘33525’, the underside stencilled ‘Louis Vuitton Paris 1 Rue Scribe London 454 Strand’, sold for £30,500.

The earliest Louis Vuitton zinc covered ‘explorer’s’ cabin trunks were not decorated with the famous Louis Vuitton LV until 1896.

The Louis Vuitton ‘malle cabine’ trunk illustrated dates from around 1895 and sold at Toovey’s for £30,500 breaking the previous house record of £26,000 for a Louis Vuitton trunk. The interior displayed the original printed label numbered ‘33525’.

This early trunk was beautifully crafted but quite plain in comparison to later examples. 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. 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. This patronage and the period of urbanization and industrialization that ensued brought Europe’s elite to his firm.

A Louis Vuitton travelling trunk with overall LV monogram decoration on a brown ground and a paper label detailed ‘Louis Vuitton 1 Rue Scribe Paris, 149 New Bond St, London’, also with stencilled number ‘140420’.

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 other Louis Vuitton travelling trunk illustrated. The trunk dates from the late 19th/early 20th century. Worn but original it realised £2600.

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.

Coronavirus COVID-19

Toovey’s are in Tier 4 which means we have to close to the public.

In accordance with government guidelines we will be offering our Click and Collect service to enable people to collect their purchases.

Our auctions will go ahead, but viewing and attendance is not permitted. Bidding will have to be via commission or telephone bidding for lots that qualify. We have temporarily reduced our telephone bid limit to lots with a bottom estimate of £150 or above. All our auctions will be online too via the-saleroom.com but additional charges apply to use this service.

If you would like to have items valued, please contact us and we will advise the best way to get your items appraised.

We are understandably experiencing a huge number of telephone calls, please bear with us and keep trying to call us. Face masks are required to be worn when visiting our rooms.

We are understandably experiencing a huge number of telephone calls, please bear with us and keep trying to call us.

For the latest information please visit https://www.tooveys.com/coronavirus/ 

We understand these are challenging times for everyone and very much appreciate your continued support.

Place and Identity Expressed in Brighton Aquatints

John Piper – ‘The Royal Pavilion’, plate II, circa 1939

John Piper’s ‘Brighton Aquatints’ was published in late November 1939 just after the outbreak of the Second World War by Gerald Duckworth Ltd. Two-hundred and fifty sets were printed from the original steel-faced copper plates and of these fifty-five sets were hand coloured.

John Piper’s ‘Brighton Aquatints’ rarely comes to auction and is now valued in the thousands. But The Mainstone Press’ 2019 edition, with its excellent introduction and essay by Alan Powers, provides a beautiful and accessible way to enjoy the images and text of the rare original volumes.

Piper revived the early 19th century print making medium of aquatint. At first glance the images with their facing text could appear to record the passing of an age. But the book has a textural, stylized quality which gives expression to deeply held emotions connected with place. It shows Piper’s awareness and interest in modernism and abstraction – a romantic modernism.

The book consist of twelve aquatints of Brighton. The illustrations were printed by the two Alexander brothers who had a basement workshop in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London. The watermarks which appear in the paper are irregularly placed and are styled as a hand raised in blessing, a head, said to be that of Christ, and the date 1399.

The process of creating an aquatint involves exposing a plate, usually of copper or zinc, to acid through an applied layer of granulated, melted resin. The acid incises the plate between the granules creating areas of evenly pitted surface. This can be varied by applying additional resin, scraping and burnishing. Different strengths of acids are also employed. When the grains are removed and the plate is printed it results in variations of tone. The effect often resembles watercolours and wash drawings, hence the name Aquatint.

As you know I visited the Royal Pavilion Brighton only a few weeks ago. The scene was reminiscent of Piper’s view of the ‘The Royal Pavilion’ which remains remarkably unchanged from his 1939 aquatint. In his notes Piper describes the building’s extravagant beauty and the great affection in which it is held.

John Piper – ‘Regency Square from the West Pier’, plate III, circa 1939

In ‘Regency Square from the West Pier’ we are reminded of a view now lost to us. John Piper describes how the pier appears like a ‘dazzling white meringue, brittle and sweet…florid and grand as anywhere.’ Regency Square is laid out on a gentle slope in the view beyond.

In some ways John Piper’s Brighton Aquatints is representative of a collective English re-thinking of the role of locality and place in relation to our identity. In the 1930s, as today, there were many who claimed that these things did not matter. But this book speaks persuasively of the importance and value of place to English identity. As we seek to answer the housing needs of our nation I hope that imaginative architecture, and a celebration of the regional and vernacular will speak to our identity as a nation and create homes where our families can flourish.