Hidden Antiquarian’s Collection Revealed

A group of antiquarian objects including: an Elizabeth I indenture on vellum, hung with the second Great Wax Seal, used between 1586-1603 and a 17th Century silkwork and rosewood banded table cabinet
A group of antiquarian objects including: an Elizabeth I indenture on vellum, hung with the second Great Wax Seal, used between 1586-1603 and a 17th Century silkwork and rosewood banded table cabinet

An important single-owner collection will be sold at auction by Toovey’s, at their Washington salerooms, on Tuesday 14th June 2016. This exceptional private collection reflects the diverse interests of a very private gentleman collector. The collection has never been seen by the public.

The connoisseur’s eye of this gifted antiquarian is apparent in the quality and breadth of an eclectic group of fine collectors’ items, needleworks, ceramics, furniture and silver dating from the 16th century to the present day.

All good collections, however varied, must reflect the personality of their collector. The objects in this collection clearly represents a lifetime of delighting in the aesthetic value, and narratives bound up with the history that objects represent.

Take, for example, the Elizabeth I indenture on vellum, hung with the second Great Wax Seal, designed by Nicholas Hilliard, which was used between 1586 and 1603. Nicholas Hilliard was a goldsmith and limner. He painted remarkable portrait miniatures, with a very English voice, of members of the courts of Elizabeth I and James I. His paintings provide a remarkable window into the Tudor world.

The seal dates from the time of the Babington Plot of 1586 which sought to assassinate Elizabeth I and replace her with the imprisoned, Catholic, Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary wrote from captivity in support of the plot but her letter was intercepted. Elizabeth is said to have initially resisted calls for, her cousin, Mary’s death. But these events would result not only in Mary’s execution but also the death of her suitor, the Duke of Norfolk.

This historical narrative is united with the exquisite 16th Century ebonized and verre églomisé table chest which is reputed to have belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots. The drawer fronts and sides are inset with glass panels and ebonized astragals, backed with coloured papers decorated with birds, leaves and flowers, mirrored hearts and stars.

The needleworks and textiles are amongst the earliest and finest pieces in the collection.

A 16th Century ebonized and verre églomisé table chest reputed to have belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots
A 16th Century ebonized and verre églomisé table chest reputed to have belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots

The 17th Century and later silkwork and rosewood banded table cabinet’s hinged lid and sides are finely worked in coloured silks on an ivory silk ground. The figures and landscapes are joyful. So, too, are the small, fine needlework panel and purse. One is decorated with figures delighting in a garden and the other with birds, flowers and lemons.

A pair of late wing back armchairs in the 17th century taste, upholstered in overall verdure tapestry panels
A pair of late wing back armchairs in the 17th century taste, upholstered in overall verdure tapestry panels

This gifted collector’s love and eye for textiles is echoed in the pair of wing back armchairs in late 17th Century taste. The verdure tapestry panel upholstery is complimented by the gilded bases.

A fine 17th Century stumpwork rectangular panel depicting a group of five ladies, representing the senses
A fine 17th Century stumpwork rectangular panel depicting a group of five ladies, representing the senses

The 17th Century stumpwork rectangular panel, depicting an allegorical group of five ladies representing the senses, is set against the backdrop of a delightful hillocky landscape with citadel. It is a particularly fine example of needlework of the period.

Accompanying passionate collectors in their pursuit of acquiring new acquisitions and sharing their collections with them remains one of the great privileges of my life as an auctioneer.

This exceptional private collection reflects the diverse interests of a very private gentleman, a collector whose friendship I have valued for more than thirty-three years. Estimates range from a hundred or two into the thousands of pounds. The sale provides a remarkable opportunity to view and acquire objects rarely seen at auction today. I hope to see you at the sale!

For more information on the sale visit www.tooveys.com or telephone 01903 891955.

Twenty Years of Fine Art at Toovey’s

Rupert Toovey with gavel in hand ©Toby Phillips/Toovey's
Rupert Toovey with gavel in hand

I started Toovey’s Fine Art Auctioneers twenty years ago this month, 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 more than 700 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, both clients and staff – a regional auction house providing a centre of expertise for the valuation and sale of art and antiques, with leading specialists and international marketing. Today, the salerooms are on the A24 at Washington, in sight of Chanctonbury Ring and the Sussex Downs, though we travel across London and the South East of England advising clients on their possessions, and our website attracts hundreds of thousands of potential clients from around the world.

Reflecting on the last twenty years, it is the passionate collectors who stand out. These individuals often collect in the pursuit of knowledge. They are continually refining and adding to their depth of understanding of a particular field or period, while training their eye to the subtle details which set apart exceptional objects. In an age which increasingly confuses information with knowledge and understanding, this is an exciting and refreshing group of people to accompany.

'La Cullure des Tulipes’, oil on canvas by George Hitchcock, 1889
'La Cullure des Tulipes’, oil on canvas by George Hitchcock, 1889

The De La Rue Collection from Rusper gave Toovey’s its first truly world-class results in 1998. The remarkable collection came from the famous De La Rue family, who printed money and stamps for the British Empire. It had lain undisturbed for some seventy years. Among the wonderful paintings, furniture and objects was this late 19th century oil on canvas of a young woman gathering tulips in a garden by the American artist George Hitchcock (1850-1913). Although the canvas was holed and in a poor state, it broke all records for the artist at the time when it sold to an American buyer. His agent flew in on Concorde especially for the sale and, against stiff competition from a telephone bidder in London, bought it for £345,000. The news of the sale was reported in the New York Times.

The Little Thakeham House Sale
The Little Thakeham House Sale

Many of the most memorable collections speak of the particular collectors. Take, for example, our Little Thakeham House Sale in 2000. I wrote in the catalogue introduction that the contents of Little Thakeham were in keeping with the stylistic quality of this important Edwin Lutyens house. They reflected the passion which this Arts and Crafts period building inspired in Tim and Pauline Ractliff, who had preserved and celebrated the property for many years. The auction was packed, with people parking in the orchard. On the lawn the marquee filled with bidders and a bank of telephones. Pre-sale estimates were quickly overtaken as prices soared and the gavel fell.

Toovey’s has remained the first choice for the sale of single-owner collections in Sussex. In 2006 our sale of The Bolney Lodge Collection saw buyers spend well over a million pounds on furniture and works of art from the estate of the late Judge Coles QC.

Single-owner sales often reflect a very personal and particular insight into the lives of the individual collector. Take the sale of The Library Collection of The Late W. Leslie Weller MBE, DL, FSA, which Toovey’s held in December last year. The books, pictures and effects reflected a man whose lively mind was directed towards his love of Sussex, its history, countryside and people. A generous and encouraging man, he worked tirelessly for the auctioneering profession and art world, as well as numerous charities. His friendship, support and advice I valued highly throughout my career.

The W. Leslie Weller Library Sale
The W. Leslie Weller Library Sale

Provenance and the human story behind individual objects or collections add a frisson which, though unpredictable, always has an important and positive effect on the prices achieved for them at auction. This has been reflected at Toovey’s sales again and again over the years.

I remain a passionate advocate for art, heritage and culture, sponsoring Pallant House Gallery, Shipley Arts Festival and the wonderful Horsham Museum and Art Gallery, amongst many others, through Toovey’s. Our company continues to invest in the Sussex community which I love, supporting numerous charities and groups with talks and fund-raising.

Twenty years on, I am proud that Toovey’s has fulfilled my hopes and aspirations. It remains a family firm employing a team of specialists and it now has a long-established reputation for expertise in valuing, marketing and auctioning art and antiques. None of this would have been possible, though, without the generous support and encouragement of the collectors, our clients, friends and supporters. Thank you all for the first twenty years!

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 4th February 2015 in the West Sussex Gazette.

The Library Collection of the late W. Leslie Weller MBE, DL, FSA

The Library Collection of the late W. Leslie Weller MBE, DL, FSA

Tuesday 2nd December 2014 at 11am

Toovey’s are proud to announce this additional sale to our 2014 calendar, which comprises the contents of the library of the late William Leslie Weller (1935-2014), consigned from his former home: Hobshorts House, Rookcross Lane, West Grinstead, West Sussex.

Hobshorts
Hobshorts

Leslie Weller, as he preferred to be known, was born in the Sussex village of Itchingfield. His father was a tenant farmer of some 100 acres close to the church. Leslie was educated at Collyer’s Grammar School in Horsham. His rural upbringing installed in him a love of the Sussex countryside and country pursuits but Leslie also developed strong interests in antiques and the fine arts and Sussex history and antiquities. All these passions would shape his life and work to come. Leslie went on to qualify as a chartered surveyor and in later life held the post of chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Art and Antiques faculty.

Duke of Beaufort and Leslie Weller © Jim Meads
Duke of Beaufort & W. Leslie Weller © Jim Meads

Leslie enjoyed a long and illustrious career in the field of fine art auctioneering. It was his inspiration and dedication that created the first regional centre of expertise outside London for Sotheby’s. For many years he was chairman of Sotheby’s in Sussex and a director of the firm. His other interests led him to achieve the posts of President of the Sussex Archaeological Society and Master of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers. He was a keen horseman and an active member of the Horsham and Crawley Hunt for many years.

Leslie's Garden Office at Hobshorts
Leslie in his Garden Office at Hobshorts

Leslie Weller was the first chairman of Chichester Cathedral Restoration Trust and over a period of thirty years played an important part in raising more than £10million for essential restoration work to the building and artworks within, including more recently the cathedral’s panel paintings by 16th century artist Lambert Barnard. For his services to the cathedral and contributions to the arts, Leslie was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List 2014.

Despite his numerous achievements, Leslie Weller was a modest man who will be remembered with great fondness by his many friends and acquaintances in our local community, Sussex as a whole and far beyond.

Leslie's Garden Office
Leslie's Garden Office

Company director Rupert Toovey comments: “Leslie was a generous friend and a great inspiration to me. He supported me in becoming a chartered surveyor in the specialist fields of fine art valuation and auctioneering and was delighted when I followed in his footsteps to become chairman of the R.I.C.S. Art and Antiques faculty. It was, therefore, a great honour to be asked by Leslie’s family to conduct this single-owner sale on their behalf.”

Sussex Horsfield extra-illustrated
Fine, extra-illustrated set of Horsfield's Sussex
EH Shepard Original drawing for sale
E.H. Shepard original drawing from Everybody's Pepys

Leslie lived at Hobshorts, a fine 17th century farmhouse in the West Grinstead countryside, with his wife, Brenda, and their dogs. His library was divided between two rooms in the main house and his private office, which was in a charming converted outhouse in the garden, offering a picturesque view across a pond to the South Downs. Leslie’s books reflect all his varied interests and they were very important to him indeed. The sale features a good selection of works on his beloved Sussex, including a fine copy of Thomas Walker Horsfield’s “The History, Antiquities, and Topography of the County of Sussex”, printed at the Sussex Press in Lewes in 1835. Usually in two volumes, this copy was extended to seven in 1892 with about 1500 extra illustrations. Bound in deep purple morocco by Zaehnsdorf, the set will carry a pre-sale estimate of £3000-5000.

An original drawing by the celebrated Sussex book illustrator Ernest H. Shepard leads a collection of other personal effects from Leslie’s library to be included in the sale. Originally published in “Everybody’s Pepys”, this 28 x 18cm pen and ink drawing will be offered with a pre-sale estimate of £600-1000. Other of Leslie’s possessions to be auctioned include maps, a barograph, a globe and two of his gavels.

The sale is on view on Saturday 29th November 2014, from 9.30am to 12noon, Monday 1st December 2014, from 10am to 4pm, and on the day of the auction, Tuesday 2nd December 2014, from 9am to the start of the sale at 11am.

The catalogue will be available in print and online at www.tooveys.com by mid-November.

Jewellery Collection to be Sold at Toovey’s

A diamond and pink beryl brooch
Lot 675

TOOVEY’S April auction this month includes an impressive collection of jewellery consigned for sale by a single local private vendor.

Lots 660-705 inclusive are all the property of a local lady collector and commences with a pair of brilliant cut diamond single stone earrings (Lot 660), each stone being approx 3cts. The pair or earrings carry a pre-sale estimate of £12,000-18,000. The collection continues with a £7,000-10,000 platinum and diamond single stone ring (Lot 661), the brilliant cut diamond measuring approx 2.80cts. Other highlights include a gold, emerald and diamond ring (Lot 665) estimated at £8,000-12,000 and two diamond bracelets (Lots 667 and 668) estimated at £4,000-6,000 and £3,000-5,000 respectively.

Lot 670 is another fine piece sure to attract attention, being a single row necklace of ninety graduated natural saltwater pearls on a diamond set clasp containing approx 2.50cts of diamonds, the principal diamond being approx 1.65ct of the total weight. The necklace is offered with The Gem and Pearl Laboratory pearl report (No. 07496, dated 6th April 2013) which states that the largest ‘pearl’ is 8.3-8.4mm in width, the smallest ‘pearl’ 2.6mm in width and the gross weight being approximately 20.25g. The necklace carries a pre-sale estimate of £5,000-8,000.  Another star of the collection is a diamond and pink beryl pendant brooch (Lot 675), circa 1900, with the large cushion shaped pink beryl in a surround of sixteen pinched collet set circular old cut diamonds with a similar set single stone suspension offered with an estimate of £10,000-15,000.

The collection is offered for sale on the afternoon of Wednesday 17th April, for viewing times and to view the entire collection please click here. We’re sure you’ll agree the sparkly array is enough to dispel any gloom caused from the occasional April shower!

Click on a thumbnail image for the full view and again for further magnification.