Sunday, 23 January 2011

An Edwardian Depatment Store Fit For a King!

Having settled into the New Year at a snails pace, ignoring the  High St. sales, the crowds & the tat. It was when I was trawling through Vintage Tobbaciana items on Ebay I came across a stunning leather cigarette case that came from a Department store in the West End of London around 1900.

This particular item though managed to get away from me, not realising the status of the store that it originated from. J.C.Vickery of Regent Street W1. I was bolted upright as I researched other items made by the firm and that of it's founder John Collard Vickery. Though what is below is prretty much all of what I could find.

This was the firm of John Collard Vickery, an important and sucessful player in the retail side of the gold and silversmithing business in the early 20th century.

Collard and his then partner, Arthur Thomas Hobbs, bought up the long established business of William Griggs, a stationer and bookseller at 183, Regent Street in c.1890 and expanded the stock to include jewellery, dressing cases, gold and silver lines.

The partnership with Hobbs was a short lived one and was dissolved in 1891. Now on his own, Vickery went from strength to strength expanding the Regent Street premises to include, at first, No.181 and then No.179 by the year 1900. He went on to obtain the royal warrants of HM the King, HM the Queen, HM Queen Alexandra, TRH the Prince and Princess of Wales, HM the King of Portugal, HM the King of Spain, TM the King and Queen of Denmark, HM the Queen of Norway, HM the King of Sweden and the Prince and Princess Christian of Schleswig Holstein.

A move further up Regent Street to No's 145/147, in 1925, was forced by the expiration of the leases on the original premises. The move along with the depression in the 1920's and Vickery's advancing years all contributed to the firm being declared bankrupt in 1930.

John Collard Vickery died aged 75 on the 19th August 1930, what was left of the business fell into the hands of James Walker Ltd.

John Culme in his "Directory of Gold & Silversmiths" relates a nice story regarding Vickery: The late G.S. Saunders of James Walker Ltd. told me that Vickery would travel each day from his home in Streatham to Regaent St. in his own carriage, stopped his coachman one day in order to examine a leaf on the drive outside his house. Stepping down from the vehicle he picked up the leaf to pin to it a note. As he continued his journey, his gardeners were astonished to read. "Why has this leaf been here for two days?"

A fella after my own heart! A little O.C.D. never did anyone any harm I say. Since that cigarette case went to another buyer I have been fortunate enough to aquire some gems from the Vickery store though and now it's started I hope, a collecction which span many years ahead.  

From top, a Gent's ( still shiny) leather jewellery box, a 1920's travel clock and a solid silver card case.

And also a longing for the other such items that alredy have been sold at Christie's & Bonhams!

 Croc skin box & leather wood photo frame. Circa 1910.

Travel clock & Barometer.

So the start of a new collection, if these were to the taste of Edward VIII & Mrs. Simpson they'll sit happily in this Dandy's abode on the South Coast!

Until Valentines Day, Much Edwardian Love.


  1. Hi Dandy Man! Ran across your blog while researching my antique silver cigar box. Engraved on the back of the box, above the striker; J.C. Vickery 179.181.183 Regent St W. Cool huh? The hallmarks show this box was made by W F Wright in 1897. I put it on ebay yesterday titled 'Large STERLING SILVER BOX London, England by W F Wright in 1897, J C Vickery Co. So check it out. Ole J C Vickery lives! Have a good holiday weekend!

  2. I have seen gorgeous drinking sets in leather cases, each compartment allocated to a glass. Leather Travel Clock