From Russia, With … Thanks!

Steve Stockton, Valuer and Head of the Harrogate Office, describes how rare Imperial Russian treasures were discovered at a Valuation Event in the Heart of the Yorkshire Dales.  
‘It is said that you should always expect the unexpected, but sometimes as an Antiques Valuer, the unexpected is so rare, so beautiful, so unusual and so totally out of context that it simply takes your breath away. That was certainly how I felt when I encountered Russian Imperial treasures on a grey day in Bolton Abbey.
In the 1920s, an engineer from a Blackburn firm of boiler manufacturers travelled several times to post-revolutionary Moscow on trade missions. He later described his experiences in a Northern Daily Telegraph article, stating that ‘we were remarkably well received!’ He went on to give a glowing report of the country, detailing their advances since the fall of the Tsars, their culture, religion, education and love of art. He also exclaimed quite categorically that ‘Englishmen who wish to trade with Russia need have no fear of going there’. His relationship with his Russian counterparts must certainly have been a success as he was bestowed with gifts before returning to his native Lancashire.
These Russian gifts were carefully stowed away in an old oak corner cupboard. Undisturbed for almost ninety years, their regal origins and value remained unknown until his granddaughter undertook some research that gave her quite a surprise!
The stars of the collection are three oyster dishes, dated 1900 and 1901, from the world famous Raphael Service produced in the Imperial Porcelain Factory at St. Petersburg for Tsar Nicholas II. The fifty-person service was originally commissioned in 1883 for the Catherine Palace at Tsarkoe Selo, but was so beautifully and intricately decorated that it took until 1903 to complete. The extraordinarily rich and opulent design was based on the decorations in Raphael’s Loggia in the Vatican – mythological scenes, and classical grotesque and arabesque designs were combined with vivid colours. Once completed, the service was given to the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna.’
Tennants are delighted to be offering these treasures of the Romanov dynasty at our Spring Fine Art Sale (24th & 25th March). The auction estimate is £15,000 - 20,000.
Also up for sale from the collection are a pair of Russian Imperial wine glasses from the service made for Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich,  son of Nicholas I, beautifully engraved with a crowned monogram (estimate £3,000 - 5,000); and a set of six linen napkins bearing the royal cypher of Tsar Nicholas II (estimate £1,000-2,000).

We are currently accepting lots for the Spring Fine Art Sale, please contact us on 01969 623780 or for further details.