Isambard Kingdom Brunel & The Great Eastern ABC

Great Eastern A.B.C., or Big Ship Alphabet Children's Book

Many regular followers of Toovey’s auctions will remember the remarkable single-owner collection, the Brunel Hawes Archive, offered for sale in November 2010. All items were entered by a descendant of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel. Sir Marc was an eminent engineer, but arguably overshadowed by his son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The prices realised at the single-owner sale undoubtedly provided a market correction in values for items relating to the Brunel family at auction. With the accompanying national press attention after such a sale, some other Brunel-related material was entered by other vendors and successfully sold at Toovey’s Sussex auction house throughout 2011. This year looks set to be no different, with a very interesting children’s book already consigned and entered for the specialist Antiquarian and Collectors’ Book auction on 21st February. Titled The Great Eastern ABC, or, Big Ship Alphabet. Designed alike for the instruction of youth and the entertainment of all ages and conditions, the 16-page book (including the printed wrappers) is a surprising rarity, published just after the death by drowning of Captain Harrison on 21st January 1860.

It has 26 hand-coloured wood-engraved vignettes, one for each alphabetic couplet, including a pasted-over slip below a portrait of Harrison standing on deck, stating ‘H stood for poor Harrison – How sad was his fate! / It now stands for Hall, appointed of late’, perhaps making this charming book an unrecorded variant or second issue of an already scarce title. The original version published in time to be noted in ‘The Athenaeum Journal’ of 28th January 1860 and ‘The Economist’ of 14 January 1860, stated ‘H is for Harrison her skilful commander, / None can excel him (without any slander)’.

Every page in the book has delightful vignette illustrations but perhaps the most interesting from a collector’s point of view is a portrait of Isambard Kingdom Brunel above ‘B stands for Brunel that famed engineer, / With whom, it is said, arose the idea’. The children’s book is bound in the original printed thin card wrappers, the upper cover blocked with the title and integral vignette, the backstrip reinforced with 19th Century paper. The little book does have minor condition issues, including a little damp-staining, but for a paperback book of this age, intended for the use of children, it has survived in remarkably good condition. Perhaps this is the reason it is such a rarity, or perhaps it is because sales were poor as the boat’s subsequent ill-fated career proved to be a far from ideal example for young children. This is speculation, but Toovey’s have not been able to find another copy of the same title selling at auction in the last thirty years. This wonderful collector’s book will be offered at Toovey’s Washington salerooms with the potentially conservative pre-sale estimate of £1000-1500. (Please click on an image to make it larger, and again for further magnification)

The Everyday Icon: Andy Waite

The artist, Andy Waite, via blog.tooveys.com
The artist, Andy Waite

Andy Waite is an Arundel-based artist, best known for his vibrant semi-abstract landscape paintings. Nicholas Toovey looks at a different aspect of the artists oeuvre based around figures and human emotions.

'Winter Deep' by Andy Waite, via blog.tooveys.com
'Winter Deep' oil on canvas, a more typical example of the artist's work

Andy was born in Buckinghamshire and after a time in Kent moved to Sussex. While studying art and design he lived in Findon, spending lots of time on and around the South Downs, with Cissbury and Chanctonbury Rings becoming favourite haunts. In 1978 Andy settled in Arundel, a place he describes as ‘an amazing location, you can be up on the downs within 15 minutes and the sea is only 3 miles away’. He is unquestionably inspired by the surrounding Sussex landscape that has kept him in the county for the last forty years. The neighbouring countryside is interpreted in sketchbooks later translating into oils on canvas in his landscape paintings that are most synonymous with his name.

'The Boy King' oil on panel by Andy Waite, via blog.tooveys.com
'The Boy King' oil on panel

Although landscape has been his main output, Andy has also always been interested in life drawing, which he undertakes in a swift and spontaneous way. It would be easy to assume that his ‘Every Day Icons’ are a progression from these figurative sketches, but in fact were created as a deliberate separate series. Informed by his other works and influenced by his trips to Italy, these icons were made with the concept that anyone, not just religious figures, might be revered or regarded as sacred. The faces depicted are based around friends or family and radiate a range of emotions from the quite dark to the joyous. ‘Some are searching, others yearning, some have found contentment in the moment. All are being honoured no matter what their state of mind’ says the artist. Whilst painting the images around these specific feelings, the emotion sometimes change during the painting process. Once completed, Andy assimilates the works for a few days titling them appropriately with a name that is almost suggested by the painting itself.

'The Fullness Of Time' by Andy Waite, via blog.tooveys.com
'The Fullness Of Time' oil on panel
'What The World Has Shown Me' by Andy Waite, via blog.tooveys.com
'What The World Has Shown Me' oil on board

The comparison to iconography is born from the palette used by Andy that echoes those used in Byzantine and Renaissance portrayals of religious figures. These were often embellished with gold leaf and due to the inherent cost it was reserved for the holiest elements such as halos. Ultramarine blue was a similarly expensive colour to create due to the main ingredient of lazulite and the difficulty of extracting the strong blue from the mineral; as a result, this was often used for the robes of the Virgin Mary and infant Christ. These colours were intended to lead the eye of the viewer to the key elements of the religious works when contrasted with the earth colours like ochre and umber. The supports of Andy’s paintings vary from modern boards to reclaimed wood, sometimes with several pieces adhered together to make a single panel, those left unfinished artificially age his contemporary interpretation of a tradition that started in medieval times.

The series of ‘Every Day Icons’ exemplifies the artist’s handling of the human form and Andy’s ability to illustrate unequivocal emotion. He portrays these feelings with an inimitable softness and subtlety. Ultimately, it is this sensitivity that makes the work extremely engaging and distinctively his own.

For more visit Andy’s website

Nicholas’ article was originally published in Sussex Life magazine in December 2011.

Toovey’s featured in All About Horsham magazine

One of the photographs taken by Toby Phillips

Toovey’s were recently featured in the magazine All About Horsham (or AAH). It is an interesting outsider perspective of Toovey’s written by the editor, Ben Morris, after an interview with many of the team of specialists at Toovey’s. You can view this feature and many other interesting articles about the Horsham District on the All About Horsham (AAH) website here. Photographs were taken by Toby Phillips, including this one of Rupert Toovey on the rostrum. Toby is holding an exhibition at Horsham Museum and Art Gallery between 5th January until 10th March 2012, showing his photography of the Sussex Downs and Horsham rugby club players, whom he shot for a charity calendar.

Tiffany Studios floor lamp for sale at Toovey’s Auctioneers

ADVANCE NOTICE: To be offered as part of our three-day auction of Antiques, Fine Art & Collectors’ Items on the 1st December 2011 in our sale of British and Continental Ceramics and Glass. As part of an important group of American Art Nouveau lamps consigned for sale by a lady. A Tiffany Studios Nasturtium pattern green and brown patinated domed leaded glass shade and matched gilt bronze floor lamp, circa 1910, the column base with relief stem detail emanating from the circular foot with stylized onion moulded decoration, raised on four scroll feet, shade stamped ‘Tiffany Studios New York’, base underside stamped ‘Tiffany Studios New York 379’, overall height approx 164cm, diameter of shade approx 55cm. Presale estimate £40,000-£60,000.

For further images of this floor lamp click here.


Tiffany Studios Woodbine pattern table lamp auction

Tiffany Studios Woodbine Pattern Table Lamp

ADVANCE NOTICE: To be offered as part of our three-day auction of Antiques, Fine Art & Collectors’ Items on the 1st December 2011 in our sale of British and Continental Ceramics and Glass. As part of an important group of American Art Nouveau lamps consigned for sale by a lady. A Tiffany Studios Woodbine pattern leaded glass and patinated bronze table lamp, circa 1910, the domed shade with groups of leaves against a mottled ground beneath a panelled top, the green and brown patinated reeded base with a waisted stem and domed foot raised on ball feet, shade stamped ‘Tiffany Studios New York’, base underside stamped ‘Tiffany Studios New York 28622’ beneath monogram, diameter of shade approx 40.5cm, height of base approx 58cm. Provenance: Christie’s New York, Rockefeller Plaza, Important Tiffany & Art Glass from the Minna Rosenblatt Gallery, 10 December 2003, lot 496. Presale estimate £15,000-£20,000.

For additional images of this lot please click here.