A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft

Thursday, August 11, 2011

More from Sotheby's Auction Book: The Duke of Windsor Collections

[To see part one on the Sotheby Auction Books for
the Duke and Duchess of Windsor Collections, click here.]

          One could spend weeks flipping through the pages of Sotheby's Auction Book for the Duke & Duchess of Windsor collections. From a historical perspective, the Duke's personal belongings and keepsakes are particularly interesting, as even small family keepsakes have significant historical importance. His wardrobe, however, is equally illuminating for any student of 20th century culture, as the Duke was one of the leading style icons of his day.

Walking sticks/canes acquired by the Duke at various stages of life. Some were gifts from his father and mother, at a time when the item was still a part of a gentleman's wardrobe.

As the Duke traveled the world during the era of luxury steamships and sleeping train cars, his collection of luxury steamers and trunks appears to have been extensive. This particular lot included several large Goyard suitcases and other exquisite leather pieces. The second piece from the top left, Lot #3251, was an attache case of tan hide from Davies, London, circa 1950s.


As one can see from the numbers in the photo below, the Duke must have traveled with a quite an impressive set of Goyard suitcases. Surprisingly, the lot had a price of $1000-1500 listed next to it - I wasn't sure if this was the price that Sotheby's expected each case to sell for, or whether $1000-1500 was the expected price for this entire lot. It seems like a very reasonable price, bordering on "bargain basement deal" territory if that is in fact the case, considering the particular provenance and general high quality of these suitcases. This particular set, Lot #3254, was comprised of a  Goyard suitcase, a shirt case, and a shoe case, circa 1940s.


Top right: A gentleman's fitted toilet case from Cartier, France, circa 1930s, with a luggage tag dating from the period when the Duke served as Governor of the Bahamas.

Top left and bottom left: Fitted kit bag and fitted toilet case from
T. Anthony of New York, circa 1950s.


For me, it all comes back to the wardrobe. One can still learn quite a bit from the Duke's choices of color, texture, and fabric.

The Duke of Windsor's dressing room at his Paris residence.

The Prince of Wales at the Brigade of Guards point-to-point meeting, 1928. The check overcoat was listed in lot 2862. It was unclear whether the lot included what appears to be the matching cap.

          Despite the fact that Sotheby's auction of the Private and Public collections of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor took place almost 15 years ago, the auction book is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to draw inspiration from one of the great dandy's of the 20th century.


  1. I am thinking about buying one copy of this auction book but I am not sure about the entire title. Are these pages from "Sotheby's Sale Number 7000", the 3 volume auction book?

  2. Hi Alexander,
    Sorry for the delay in responding but Irene pulled a real number on us here! Yes, these images are from the "private collections" volume from that 3-volume set. Definitely worth picking up - you can probably find a set in good condition via eBay or Amazon.

  3. Thank you very much...I just found a copy on the German Amazon site.