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Sharing favourite things with Peter Hone.
4 November 2016

“I’m not a great collector – I just collect junk and it works out quite nice” Peter Hone.

Just over a week ago Christies held one of the most interesting sales for some time at South Kensington, perhaps a reflection of the man himself. The lifelong collection belonged to the bon vivant Peter Hone, the antiques dealer, conservationist and connoisseur of plaster casts. It was one of the most viewed auctions to date with the public, scholars and all who knew ‘what’s-what’ in the business flooding through the doors to view the treasures that he has amassed, restored and curated over fifty years.

The wall of paintings above: “ Everything fitted exactly as it was in my home.”

Hone’s collection included a large amount of 19th Century antique Coade architectural fragments. I have had a long held fascination for this material and sold antique Coade, formulated by the great Eleanor Coade in the 19th Century. Jamb also represents Coade Ltd.established in 2000 by my good friend Stephen Pettifer who worked out the wonderfully durable terracotta formula and creates great works of art inspired from antique originals.

I went to see Peter before the sale, fascinated to know what his favourite things were and what he would miss from his collection.

Hone described his collection as an ‘orphanage of things’. The first of Peter’s best objects was an early 19th Century Regency Alabaster Warwick Vase commemorating Lord Nelson. He told me how he had saved it, finding it in a thousand pieces and restoring it. He then demonstrated it’s ‘party piece’, swinging the huge urn round by the handle – “Look at how it swivels!” he exclaimed. “If the handle stops facing you- look out!”

It proved to be a highlight of the sale, climbing to eight times it’s estimate. Another highlight was a Roman marble head below.

A Roman marble head of a goddess wearing a foliate and berried wreath. 1st-2nd Century A.D

Hone told me he had desired this more than anything else he had ever wanted.”Isn’t it wonderful! It’s so special! I found it in a stable in Kedleston Hall covered in green slime. I wasn’t the only one who wanted her but I had to have it. Someone said to me recently, ” It’s very worn”, I said, “So would you be if you were that old!”

He added that even though it all had to go, he would be happy if he could take her home again, even though this was never an eventuality. With his great appreciation for antiquities he mused over the size of her head, noting that the actual statue must have been colossal.

The sale was displayed as close to how it was assembled within his home.( Illustrated in this month’s World of Interiors) I know from experience the roller coaster of emotions when selling one’s own collection Peter admitted that when he was washing up one night before the sale, he had a little ‘cringe’, “a little feeling of regret” when looking at his Wedgwood Creamware. “Knowing it would all be gone. Even though it has to…”

“Isn’t this goose pimply!” A trowel that belonged to Gertrude Jekyll.

Another of Hone’s favourite things that he parted with was the trowel of the great 19th Century horticulturist and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll.

I was very disappointed that a coveted piece slipped through my fingers: A Coade stone capital.

My good friend and auctioneer extraordinaire Nic McElhatton held the room, conducting as brilliantly ever. Even though Hone’s dog cried throughout the sale (John Basildon brown, aka Basil), there was no need – the sale was a huge success. Peter told me that it had been “the most exciting two weeks of his life” seeing his collection assembled and appreciated and ‘now it all had to go’ Apparently from now on, there was “no more buying – only making my things”

Let’s see how he gets on and if he can be more disciplined than me after my auction…

The Jamb Holland sofa with a homage to Soane and Hone in our Camberwell living room.