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.

Important London Collection of Asian Art to be Sold in Sussex

Toovey’s Asian Art specialist, Tom Rowsell, with one of a pair of rare Chinese Qianlong period cloisonné enamel elephants from an important London single owner collection of Asian Art

This week I am in the company of Toovey’s Director and Asian Art specialist, Tom Rowsell, who has just finished preparations for the sale of an important London single – owner collection of Asian Art.

I ask Tom how the collection looked in the collector’s London home and he replies “Many of the pieces were beautifully displayed around the house, but it was when I discovered and began to unpack boxes and go through the shelves in an upstairs room that the scale and importance of this collection became apparent. The collection had remained largely untouched for 40 or 50 years. The vast majority of the pieces are from the imperial Kangxi (1654-1722), Yongzheng (1723-1735) and Qianlong (1735-1796) periods of the late 17th and 18th centuries.”

Tom explains how today’s Chinese collectors are following in the tradition of the Qianlong emperor who was the last of the great imperial art collectors and patrons in Chinese history. His genuine passion for art and collecting seems to have been inspired by his grandfather, the Kangxi emperor (1654-1722), and his uncle Yinxi (1711-1758).

The Qianlong emperor was prolific in his collecting applying an exceptional personal connoisseurship. His collection would number more than a million objects.

The Qianlong emperor took a personal interest in porcelain production and was an ardent patron and collector of it. Many of the types of porcelain associated with the Qianlong emperor, however, were seeded under the Emperor Yongzheng’s supervisor of the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen, Tang Ying (1682-1756).

A garniture of five Chinese Yongzheng period (1723-1735) porcelain vases estimated at £15,000-£25,000 from an important London single owner collection of Asian Art

My eye is taken by a rare and beautiful garniture of five Chinese porcelain Yongzheng period vases. Tom comments “Yongzheng porcelain is known for the quality of its glazes, these vases are very fine quality. It’s very unusual to find a set of five still together in such remarkable condition. The finely enamelled decoration with its delicate flowers and landscapes has wonderful fresh colours. Look at the subtle, recessed panels with their moulded borders. Lovely details – these would have probably been made for an important European home.”

Tom continues “Toovey’s are one of a very small number of UK auctioneers with the ability to market online directly to mainland Chinese collectors through our working relationship with Epai Live, China’s largest mainland online auction platform for the marketing of art and antiques. This collection will certainly attract Chinese and overseas buyers as well as UK interest. We will be exhibiting the collection’s highlights at the international Asian Art Fair in London on the 4th November before it returns to Sussex to be sold.”

Today’s Chinese collectors are as passionate in their collecting as their imperial forebears and the market shows no signs of abating.

This important single owner collection will be auctioned at Toovey’s on Thursday 29th November 2018. If you would like advice on pieces in this collection or your Chinese objects Tom Rowsell can be contacted on 01903 891955, and visit www.tooveys.com to view the sale online from the 4th November.

“One More Sir!” A Sussex Connoisseurs Collection

The late John Young, gentleman, motor racer and collector
The late John Young, gentleman, motor racer and collector

Toovey’s Christmas series of specialist auctions include an exceptional range of silver, furniture, collectors’ items and works of art from the estate of the Sussex collector, the late John Young.

My friend John was not only a gentleman motor racer and classic-car enthusiast but also a connoisseur of art and antiques. His taste matched his glamorous lifestyle and he created an elegant but comfortable home in the heart of Sussex.

He had a passion for life and loved the theatre of a sale day at Toovey’s. His bidding often ended just before the gavel fell with the raise of a finger and his customary call, “One more, sir!”

John Young was educated at Dulwich College and subsequently joined the R.A.F. He once told me: “I wanted to fly a Spitfire but there were too many pilots just after the war for me to get a look in, so I left and joined the family firm, Rose & Young. We were agents for Mercedes-Benz.”

John was a man whose life was closely bound up with the fortunes of motor racing and automobiles. A works driver for the Connaught team in the 1950s, with drives at many of the great motor racing circuits, he was part of that glamorous and courageous cohort of racing drivers in the years after the Second World War.

Louis-Ernest Barrias - Nature unveiling Herself before Science, a late 19th/early 20th century gilded and silvered cast bronze figure of a standing maiden
Louis-Ernest Barrias – Nature unveiling Herself before Science, a late 19th/early 20th century gilded and silvered cast bronze figure of a standing maiden

Amongst his collection is a beautiful gilded and silvered cast bronze by the famous French sculptor Louis-Ernest Barrias. This well-known sculpture is titled ‘Nature unveiling Herself before Science’. The Art Nouveau figure is allegorical and dates from the late 19th/early 20th century. It is modelled as a standing maiden representing nature as she reveals her hidden secrets to science. It is estimated at £5000-8000.

A Napoleon III kingwood and floral marquetry inlaid meuble d'appui, circa 1860
A Napoleon III kingwood and floral marquetry inlaid meuble d’appui, circa 1860

John loved fine French furniture and there are a number of examples from his collection in the sale. They include the Napoleon III kingwood and floral marquetry inlaid meuble d’appui (cabinet) seen here. It was made in 1860. The two bronzed plaques after the sculptor Clodion compliment the fine ormolu mounts and inlay. It is an exceptional piece and carries a pre-sale estimate of £4000-6000.

It was always a treat to spend time with John at his home. Once, as we drank champagne on the terrace, I asked him why he didn’t live in Monaco with his peers and he gestured towards the South Downs beyond and replied, “Oh, I’ve had yachts down there but I love England. Look at that view – why would you want to be anywhere else?” His delight in sharing a story and his infectious enthusiasm were balanced by his modesty. A generous man, John Young epitomized the best of his era: a gentleman, a racer, a collector and an enthusiast with a deep love of life, cars, animals and the Sussex countryside. I am privileged to have counted John as a friend. Collections of this quality are rare and I am looking forward to the sale. The auctions are on view at Toovey’s Washington salerooms from Saturday 25th November 2017.

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.

The Coin Collection of the Late Frederick Sydney Clark

Fred Clark (1923-2016)
Fred Clark (1923-2016)

Fred Clark, as he was always known, was born to publicans in South London. Sometime later, the whole family moved to Seaford in East Sussex.

Fred’s greatest passion in life was collecting and, following the family move, he loved nothing more than field-walking in Seaford and on the Peacehaven Downs. These areas were rich in fossils and prehistoric flints. Such was his passion for collecting that he would, on occasions, ride all the way to Suffolk on his BSA Bantam motorbike, following in the footsteps of his predecessor Dr William Allen Sturge and those of his great friend, the collector Dr Hugh Fawcett, who was well-known for his lithic collections.

Lot 892 a Byzantine Empire Heraclius with Heraclius Constantine (610-641AD) gold solidus, the obverse with two busts, Constantinople mint.
Lot 892: A Byzantine Empire Heraclius with Heraclius Constantine (610-641AD) gold solidus, the obverse with two busts, Constantinople mint.

Once again the family moved, this time to Woking in Surrey, and in the 1960s Fred decided to open a shop in nearby Guildford selling collectables. These included fossils, minerals, prehistoric tools and coins. His shop was to become very popular with collectors and he continued to trade there until he retired in the mid-1980s.

Following his retirement, he moved to Worthing, where he stayed for many years until he sadly passed away following a short illness.

A Roman Empire Balbinus (238AD) antoninianus, the reverse with clasped hands beneath 'Concordia Augg'.
Lot 807: A Roman Empire Balbinus (238AD) antoninianus, the reverse with clasped hands beneath ‘Concordia Augg’.

Fred Clark was meticulous with recording. Every artefact he found would be written on with a location and his monogram ‘FC’, which remains well-known by academics and collectors to this day.

Fred formed his coin collection predominantly during the 1960s and 1970s.

Coins from Classical Antiquity

The late antiquarian and collector, Fred Clark
The late antiquarian and collector, Fred Clark

A remarkable collection of coins, predominately from Classical Antiquity, have been entered for auction at Toovey’s and is expected to realise tens of thousands of pounds. This single owner collection of coins was formed during the 1960s and 1970s by the late Fred Clark, a gifted and meticulous antiquarian.

Fred rode his BSA Bantham motorcycle all over Suffolk and the South East of England collecting not only coins but fossils and prehistoric flints too.

When his family moved to Woking in Surrey in the 1960s Fred opened a shop in Guildford which became a favourite haunt for collectors.

The study of the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome have had a profound influence on Western Civilisation and thinking over millennia. As we look through this remarkable collection it becomes apparent that nearly all the Roman Emperors are represented in the coins. Fred Clark was a gifted classicist.

A Roman Empire Hadrian (117-138AD) sestertius, the reverse with Ceres standing left, holding corn ears and a long torch
A Roman Empire Hadrian (117-138AD) sestertius, the reverse with Ceres standing left, holding corn ears and a long torch

Toovey’s specialist, Mark Stonard, draws my attention to the Roman Empire Hadrian (117-138AD) sestertius. He explains that on the reverse Ceres is depicted standing to the left, holding corn ears and a long torch. Mark says “Hadrian is such a well-known character to us. The natural patination of this bronze sestertius coin and its condition is very good.” There is an accompanying letter from the British Museum, dated 17th July 1970, remarking that this coin is ‘even better than their own example’. The finely penned label written by Fred Clark describes the coin and its history. Mark comments “Fred was meticulous with his recording.”

The coin reminds me that the Emperor Hadrian was a brilliant administrator and travelled the Empire visiting the Provinces and ensuring discipline in the Roman armies which he held in such high regard. Hadrian was also renowned for his love of architecture and building. The Pantheon which he rebuilt in Rome still stands.

Hadrian left his mark in Britain too. The Vallum Hadrian, known today as Hadrian’s Wall, was built around 122AD. It stretched from coast to coast and its ruins can still be seen today.

The British Empire looked to the Classical Antiquity for inspiration in its arts, architecture and objects.

A George IV crown dating from 1821
A George IV crown dating from 1821

This influence is apparent in the George IV crown dated 1821 which depicts the King as an Emperor from antiquity which is in fine condition.

With estimates ranging from the low hundreds into the thousands the collection is expected to realise tens of thousands of pounds. The Fred Clark coin collection will be auctioned at Toovey’s on Wednesday 1st November 2017 in the afternoon.

Coins connect us with the procession of human history in a remarkable way and delight in the quality of their aesthetic and manufacture. No wonder that they are a boom market.

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.