Rare Louis Vuitton Trunk sets New World Record at Toovey’s

The Louis Vuitton ‘explorer’s’ (malle cabine) trunk exterior

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 record breaking Louis Vuitton zinc covered ‘explorer’s’ (malle cabine) trunk, circa 1895, with Toovey’s specialist William Rowsell

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.

Here are a few of my favourite things…

Dame Vera Lynn’s late Victorian diamond set heart shaped pendant locket

2022 saw some remarkable discoveries and sales at Toovey’s. It is always wonderful when remarkable and beautiful pieces are sold to the benefit of Sussex charities.

In The Sound of Music I love it when Julie Andrews sings “…These are a few of my favourite things.”

With many to choose from two of my favourite things from the 2022 auction season were the remarkable heart shaped diamond brooch sold for the Dame Vera Lynn Charitable Trust and the Duncan Grant Still Life in aid of The Sussex Heritage Trust.

During the Second World War Dame Vera Lynn was known as the Forces Sweetheart, a singer of undoubtable talent she became an icon of hope in the face of the sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges of the Second World War.

The heart remains one of the definitive symbols of love and Dame Vera’s large, late Victorian diamond set heart shaped pendant locket, pavé set with old cut diamonds was a fine example. The smaller diamonds accentuated the principle stone at its centre within a shimmering field. The back was glazed and hinged with a locket compartment. This beautiful jewel with it’s exceptional provenance realised £26,000 for her charitable trust.

Later in the year a still life by the famous Charleston and Bloomsbury artist Duncan Grant was sold at Toovey’s in aid of the Sussex Heritage Trust.

Duncan Grant (1885-1978), Chair with Flowers. Still Life, oil on canvas

The picture was donated to the Trust by Peter Carreras, a distinguished Sussex artist and printmaker, and his wife, Greta.

Duncan Grant’s painting provides a very British voice to the influences of Post-Impressionism. It depicts a handmade jug, of the type made by both Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, filled with flowers upon a painted Bloomsbury chair. His handling of the paint and the joyous palette reflects the art he and Vanessa Bell produced here in Sussex at Charleston. Although a later work the painting made £14,000 for the Sussex Heritage Trust.

When I founded Toovey’s some 28 years ago with my Dad, Alan, we wanted to model a different way of being business where people, our clients and team, were front and centre. And where the business was at the heart of the community supporting what is good in our county. It has been great fun and these values remain central to Toovey’s. Working alongside and in support of our county’s fantastic charities, museums, galleries and communities is, as it has always been, a great privilege.

Duncan Grant Painting to be Sold in Aid of Sussex Heritage Trust

Charleston House, Sussex

A still life oil painting by the famous Charleston and Bloomsbury artist Duncan Grant is to be sold at Toovey’s in aid of the Sussex Heritage Trust at 10am on Wednesday 30th November. It carries a pre-sale auction estimate of £6000-8000.

Through its work and awards the Sussex Heritage Trust promotes and encourages best practice in our county’s built environment and landscape.

The oil on canvas, titled Still Life with Bloomsbury Chair and Spring Flowers was donated to the Trust by Peter Carreras, a distinguished Sussex artist and printmaker, and his wife, Greta. It is believed that they purchased the painting in 1972 at The Ringmer Festival organised by the philanthropist Ian Askew.

Duncan Grant’s painting provides a very British voice to the influences of Post-Impressionism. It depicts a handmade jug, of the type made by both Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, filled with flowers upon a painted Bloomsbury chair. His handling of the paint and the joyous palette is reminiscent of Bloomsbury and although a later work it is a fine example. A very similar chair can be seen in Duncan Grant’s studio at Charleston House in Sussex and is thought to have been painted by Richard Shone in 1970.

Duncan Grant (1885-1978), Chair with Flowers. Still Life, oil on canvas

It was Vanessa Bell’s love for Duncan Grant and her sister Virginia Woolf which brought her to Sussex during the First World War. Vanessa was living with the artist Duncan Grant, and his lover David Garnett, at Wissett Lodge in Suffolk when her sister, the author, Virginia Woolf, wrote to her in the May of 1916. She extolled the virtues and potential of Charleston house near Firle in East Sussex. Virginia explained that not only did Charleston house need a tenant but that the neighbouring farmer was short of ‘hands’ to work on the land. Duncan Grant and David Garnett needed to be essentially employed on the land to avoid being called up to fight in the Great War or the prospect of gaol as conscientious objectors.

They covered the walls and furniture at Charleston with painted decoration. Duncan and Vanessa painted those who visited, the countryside around them and scenes from their home as can be seen in this still life.

The Sussex Heritage Trust’s work is important in promoting best practice in our county’s built environment and landscape whilst encouraging and supporting talented young people into careers in conservation, building and horticulture. I feel sure that the sale of this beautiful Duncan Grant Still Life will bless the Trust and its work.

Toovey’s Celebrate 25th Anniversary

Rupert Toovey

I started Toovey’s Auctioneers twenty-five years ago, with a dedicated team of people who remain passionate about the company and the work we do. We opened on a stormy Valentine’s night in 1995 and were delighted when hundreds of guests braved wind and rain to support us and celebrate this new venture. I set out to create a family firm where people are valued.

The pleasure of accompanying people through their art, collectors’ items and antiques remains as strong as it has always been. We all value objects which allow us to speak of our lives – the prompts to fond memories. Many will also celebrate the beauty of a piece, whilst others collect in the pursuit of knowledge, continually refining and adding to their depth of understanding of a particular field or period, training their eye to the subtle details which set apart exceptional objects. In an age which increasingly confuses information with knowledge and understanding, they are a generous, exciting and refreshing community of people to accompany.

Provenance and the human story behind individual objects or collections add a frisson, which always has an important and positive effect on the prices achieved for them at auction. This has been reflected in Toovey’s sales again and again over the years. The Little Thakeham House Sale, the Bolney Lodge million pound single-owner collection of works of art and furniture, paintings sold for hundreds of thousands and the £520,000 Qianlong period Chinese vase have been just some of the markers which have defined Toovey’s reputation.

Many of the most memorable collections and objects speak of the collectors that form them. Single-owner sales often provide a very personal and particular insight into the lives of the individual collector, such as our 2014 sale of the Library Collection of the late W. Leslie Weller MBE, DL, FSA, which reflected his love of Sussex and his prominent role at Sotheby’s. His friendship, support and advice I always valued highly. In 2015, the collection from Angmering Park House of the 16th Duke of Norfolk’s daughter, the late Baroness Herries of Terregles, reflected the English country house taste which defines us. A number of important single-owner collections auctioned more recently at Toovey’s have included a remarkable group of Chinese porcelain and works of art from London and the collection of the well-known post-war racing driver John Young.

At Toovey’s I and my remarkable team value people before objects and this is given expression not only in the way that we serve people professionally but also in the way that we have always invested our time, money and expertise in the community here in Sussex.

I remain a passionate advocate for building communities through art, heritage and culture which I write about in my weekly column in the West Sussex Gazette and Horsham Gazette. Toovey’s are long-term sponsors of the Shipley Arts Festival, Pallant House Gallery, Sussex Heritage Trust, the wonderful Horsham Museum and Art Gallery, the National Trust at Petworth and many others.

Our company continues to invest in the Sussex community which I love, supporting numerous charities and community groups including Mary How Trust, our local hospices St Barnabas, Chestnut Tree House, St Catherine’s and the Friends of Sussex Hospices, the NSPCC, as well as the WI, U3A and numerous parish churches across the county with talks, professional advice and fund-raising.

We remain a family firm, as we have always been, with family firm values. Our forward looking, dynamic and talented team bridges across the generations and ensures that we remain one of the country’s leading regional auction houses providing a centre of expertise for the valuation and sale of art and antiques with leading specialists and international marketing.

Almost twenty-five years on, I am proud that Toovey’s has fulfilled our hopes and aspirations.

None of this would have been possible, though, without the generous support and encouragement of the collectors, our clients, friends and supporters. On behalf of all of us at Toovey’s, I would like to offer our thanks.

Another Rare Louis Vuitton Trunk Discovered by Toovey’s

The recently discovered Louis Vuitton cabin trunk.

Toovey’s have unearthed another rare Louis Vuitton ‘Explorer’ travelling trunk.

This rare Louis Vuitton zinc covered ‘explorer’s’ cabin trunk (malle cabine) was produced circa 1895. The interior displays the original printed label numbered ‘33525’, and is comparable to the example we sold in October 2017 (read our blog post here). The current vendor having discovered our previous success was surprised by the value and decided to consign it with Toovey’s.

Louis Vuitton printed label
Louis Vuitton printed label

These trunks were issued in zinc and aluminium and were designed to withstand the extreme environments of the late 19th century explorer, giving the trunks their nickname.

This rare cabin trunk will be offered for sale at Toovey’s on Friday 6th December 2019 with a pre-sale estimate of £20,000-30,000. Please contact Will Rowsell for any enquiries regarding this trunk.