FABULOUS ANTIQUE EDWARDIAN SILVER TOP AND BACKED TRAVELLING DRESS OR VANITY SET BY WILLIAM WHITELEY IN FITTED LEATHER CASE AND WATERED SILK LINING - HALLMARKED BIRMINGHAM AND LONDON 1908 – TWO BRUSHES BY RENOWNED SILVERSMITH HENRY MATTHEWS
This is a fabulous piece of history in the form of a very stylish Edwardian travelling vanity, dress or grooming set from the world famous entrepreneur, William Whiteley, the founder of Whiteleys department store. He opened his first store in the fashionable area of Westbourne Grove, London in 1863. By 1890 he employed over 6,000 staff and in 1896 ‘Whiteleys’ was granted a Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria. Whiteley himself was shot dead at his store in 1907 by a man claiming to be his illegimate son! He left £1,000,000 in his will, which was a vast amount of wealth at the time.
This fabulous case would have been an extremely expensive item to buy in 1908. It is of the highest quality and, not only is it by William Whiteley, it also has two beautiful pieces of repousse silver, in the form of two brushes, by the renowned silversmith, Henry Matthews.
It comes fully fitted with its original items in the original leather travelling case, which shuts with a lock and key. The case is of brown leather with a green watered silk lining interior. It is stamped with the mark ‘WILLIAM WHITELEY WESTBOURNE GROVE’ and has the initials ‘L.L.H.’ on the lid. Internally, the items that are not of silver are cased or mounted in their own bottle green leather.
The set consists of:
Two solid sterling silver backed brushes, one a clothes brush, the other a hairbrush, by the renowned silversmith Henry Matthews and hallmarked for Birmingham 1908. The brushes have a matching, very attractive design in repousse silver, typical of the Art Nouveau period. Flowers and scrolling acanthus leaves surround a blank cartouche on each piece, including both sides of the handle on the hairbrush. There is also a comb in a leather case beneath the brushes, which is not silver mounted.
Four solid sterling silver topped bottles or jars in various shapes and sizes. These are by a different maker and are a matching set, all hallmarked for London 1908. They also have a lovely Art Nouveau style pattern in repousse silver on the lid of each jar. Three of the jars have pull off tops and one is a bottle with a screw neck and cork in the top.
A leather mounted travelling mirror with a stand attached at the back.
A set of five small items, for example, manicure, button hook, etc with mother of pearl handles and leather cased.
A writing wallet for paper, stamps, etc with pencil holder and what looks like the original pencil in the bottle green leather.
A leather cased blotter.
A leather cased inkwell with a push button spring opening, marked ‘INK’ in silver lettering on the top.
A leather cased vesta or match holder with a push button spring opening, marked ‘LIGHT’ in silver lettering on the top. This opens to reveal a serrated striker which flips back. There are a few dozen matches still inside.
HALLMARKS: The two brushes carry the hallmarks: “HM” in two squares for Henry Matthews; the Anchor for the Birmingham Assay Office; the lion passant denoting solid English silver; the letter “i” for the year 1908. They are both also marked with a registration number of: ‘RD522414’.
The four solid silver topped jars or bottles carry the hallmarks: “W.G” for the maker; the lion passant for solid sterling silver; the letter “n” for the year 1908; the Leopard’s Head for the London Assay Office.
Case: Width – 36cm; Length – 27.5cm; Depth – 18cm
Hairbrush: Length – 24cm; Width – 8.5cm
Clothes Brush: Length – 16cm; Width – 4.2cm
CONDITION: The condition of the silver on all the pieces is very good, especially considering their age. There are the usual light surface marks common to silver as it is a soft metal.
Both the brushes have little dings, in particular around the edges as you would expect, and all only commensurate with age and use. The hairbrush has a few very small splits and the silver needs to be re-glued to the wood at the front top half end. There must be some bits of old adhesive between the silver and the wood as there is a rattle. The original bristles are intact, clean and in very good condition on both.
The silver tops on all the jars and bottles are in super condition and the gilt lined interiors are immaculate. The glass also appears to be in great condition on all of them.
The mirror gives a lovely clear reflection, there is just a small chip to the bottom right hand side. The manicure set is in good condition with all the mother of pearl intact, the steel needs cleaning. All the writing material seems fine, as do the ‘INK’ and ‘LIGHT’ cases, which flip open easily and shut firmly and tightly.
Internally, the padded watered silk is worn or has some tears in places but is generally intact and in not bad, pretty fair condition considering its antique age of 106 years old.
The original lock and key are in place. The key turns in the lock but for some reason the ‘catch’ for the lock on the lid will not go into the home on the bottom. It probably just needs a small adjustment to work again.
Please note that the photos do not do this lovely antique piece of history justice, the colours and condition are better than they look on the pictures.
This is a rare, super piece of history of the highest quality from William Whiteley and Henry Matthews!