A set of six ebonised, scarlet Boulle and gilt metal-mounted chairs, circa 1880, French
Lot 785
A set of six ebonised, scarlet Boulle and gilt metal-mounted chairs, circa 1880, French
Sold for £4,200 (US$ 5,673) inc. premium

The Chester Sale

7 Jul 2011, 11:00 BST


Lot Details
Furniture & Related Books
A set of six ebonised, scarlet Boulle and gilt metal-mounted chairs, circa 1880, French
A set of six ebonised, scarlet Boulle and gilt metal-mounted chairs, circa 1880, French
Including two open armchairs, each with a cartouche-shaped back with bowed toprail mounted to each end with a ram's head terminal and above pierced brass lattice-work and an upholstered panel, with open padded arms either side of a stuff-over seat with shaped front rail, raised on cabriole supports terminating in foliate-cast gilt metal mounts, decorated throughout with scarlet Boulle of arabesques and foliate scrolls, the rear of each chair ebonised and inlaid with brass lines, (6)


  • Provenance:
    Reputedly the property of Tsar Nicholas II (1868 - 1918).
    Thence reputedly the property of Frank Reddaway (1854 - 1953), rubber merchant and industrialist, of Winmarleigh Hall, Near Garstang, Lancs.
    Thence purchased at the sale of the Contents of Winmarleigh Hall (date unknown but the property of Fred Parkes ESQ., J.P. at the time), Lot 60.
    Thence by descent to the present owner.

    The mid-20th Century Winmarleigh sale catalogue lists the chairs in the lot offered here alongside five other lots - 'Ebonized Buhl Cabinet', 'The Writing Table to Match' 'Centre Table en Suite', 'Settee en suite' and, finally, a 'Suite of Six Chairs' - and notes, 'the above suite, Lots 56 - 60, was originally the property of the Royal House of Romanoff. The last owner being the late Czar Nicholas'. The life and career of Frank Reddaway, owner of Winmarleigh Hall between 1912 and his death, lends weight to this assertion, although no definitive proof of Reddaway's ownership of the chairs has been found.

    Frank Reddaway - probably born in Ireland in August 1854 - founded Frank Reddaway & Co., a manufacturer of rubber products and camel hair belting as early as 1873, when he was just nineteen. This business was extremely successful, and profits were such that branches and depots were opened throughout Europe, in Stockholm and Hamburg and, in 1887, in Russia.

    This site occupied fifteen acres of Land at Spass Setum near Moscow, and was part of a Russian network comprising offices and warehouses in Moscow, and six other distribution centres. The company supplied hose-pipe and belting, but also made a flexible oil cloth for tables which were sold in Russia, Poland, Finland and the Baltic States. According to Frank Reddaway's later account [Leeds Russian Archive MS 1178/32], the company was highly successful and, before the outbreak of World War I, employed 1000 people at the factory at Spass Setum, and 250 commercial men elsewhere. As part of the development of the site and area, the firm paved roads, secured the supply of pure water, built a bath-house and opened a school for children. Frank Reddaway visited Russia three times a year, for six weeks at a time, and built a house for himself close to the mills just before the outbreak of war in 1914. Events in Russia following the Bolshevik Revolution were to overtake the firm, however, and, in December 1917, the factory and its stock were formally nationalised.

    Frank Reddaway's losses in terms of stock, assets and cash were huge, and he was tireless in his efforts, first to recover his losses, and thereafter to be compensated for them. For the next 40 years, until his death in 1953, Reddaway wrote to, amongst others, Arthur James Balfour, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in 1918, Herbert Henry Asquith in 1924, Stanley Baldwin in 1932, Neville Chamberlain in 1938 and others. In 1920 he formed a group called 'The Association of British Creditors of Russia', to avenge what he called the 'Great Robbery'.

    Amongst the losses listed by Reddaway, was £30,000 in Furniture and Works of Art in the house at Spass Setum. These contents were inventoried, but unfortunately this document was unfortunately confiscated when Reddaway's man of business was stopped at the Polish Border trying to leave Russia.

    Frank Reddaway & Co. merged with the Argus Group in 1954 and, in June 1990, the British Government's Foreign Compensation Commission finally awarded the company £250,000 as remuneration for the loss of the Moscow factory, seventy-three years after the event.

    Tsar Nicholas II and his family were murdered by the Bolsheviks on the night of 15/16 March 1917.
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