The Costume, Accessories and Textiles Sale at Tennants Auctioneers on 7th May will include the Private Collection of a Suffolk Family. The collection comprises 26 lots that belonged to numerous ancestors in the vendor’s family, dating from the early 19th century to early 20th century. Many items belonged to a Mr Calvert, who lived in a timbered manor house and was affectionately known as ‘a wonderfully eccentric gentleman’. He never married but travelled to India and Europe, and extensively in Egypt with H. Rider Haggard, the celebrated novelist who wrote King Solomon’s Mines. Indeed, Rider Haggard’s name is written in the back of an 18th century style pink silk waistcoat in the collection. The vendor’s well-travelled family even reached Australia and China; their travels represented by textiles now up for auction.
Since the 1980s, the textiles have been stored in trunks in a barn on the vendor’s farm, each item wrapped carefully in tissue paper. Tennants Textile Specialist Sarah White says of the collection: ‘Each layer of wrapping I removed revealed another delight, a jigsaw piece in the puzzle of the family history. The vendor was determined to preserve these wonderful items for the future, and felt the best way was for them to find new owners at auction’.
Highlights of the collection include a 19th Century Wedding Costume made from silk brocade woven with lily of the valley, green silk trim and lace with matching brocade shoes. The costume bears a label for ‘Colley’ with a Royal Warrant and is offered with an estimate of £300-500 (plus buyer’s premium). A Late 19th Century Black Silk Brocade Jacket, woven with tulips and labelled ‘Harvey Nichols and Company Limited Knightsbridge’ (estimate: £150-200) is contrasted by a group of early 20th Century Domestic Service wear including starched white cotton aprons (estimate: £80-120) and an Early 20th Century Pink Velvet Eastern Robe with appliqued gold trims and gold thread embroidery (estimate: £120-180).