A Godalming Gentleman And Collector

Ewbank’s Sale Of The Collection Of Anthony Cumings Of Crown Cottage, Tuesley Lane On 24th March

Tony Cumings AuctionEwbank’s, Surrey’s leading auction house, is hosting a special sale of “The Collection of Anthony Cumings” on March 24, which includes pottery, antique silverware, paintings, miniature portraits and Royal memorabilia. 


Anthony Cumings was a well-known and respected businessman who ran Antony Hirewear in Godalming for 21 years. Tony, as he was more usually known, was also an avid collector and crammed his home full of items bought mostly from local and London auctions.  Sadly, he died in January.


Chris Ewbank, senior partner and auctioneer, said: “When Tony was very ill last year, he asked me to come and see him and entrusted me with the job of disposing of his collection on his death. In accordance with his wishes, and with the agreement of his executor the entire collection has been moved to our saleroom in Send in preparation for “his auction” on Friday March 24.” 


Anthony Cumings was born on 25th February 1939 in Cardiff; his father was a seventh day Adventist pastor and when Tony was young the family travelled around the country a great deal. His parents were both very active throughout their lives although his mother had MS for many years. His father worked into his early 90’s, and no doubt Tony inherited his work ethic from them.


When he became an adult he  lived for a number of years in Knightsbridge where he met his life-long partner, whilst working for Fenwicks in the West End. They moved to Godalming  together in March 1967, exactly 50 years ago, and bought their home, where he lived for the rest of his life,  a small, two up two down, Victorian  cottage  above Godalming up at the top of Holloway Hill, which they named Crown Cottage, a very apt choice given his later passion for collecting Royal Memorabilia. Royal Memorabilia Auctions


Tony worked for outfitters Kinch and Lack in Guildford and his partner Geoff was manager of a jewellers and silversmiths also based in Guildford.  Sadly Geoff died young of cancer many years ago.


When Kinch and Lack closed in 1994, Tony bought the stock of the hire-wear business and set up his own business Antony Hirewear in Godalming. It thrived because of his great experience and knowledge of the business  and his dedicated hard work. Many weddings in the Guildford and Godalming area were “dressed” by Tony over the next 21 years, including Partner Andrew Ewbank and another two of auctioneer Chris Ewbank’s children.


Ewbank commented: “You might have thought that with limited space Tony’s passion for collecting would have been curtailed.  Well you would be wrong! Every shelf and cupboard bulged with his favourite Staffordshire pottery and antique silver and every scrap of wall space was covered by his collection of pictures and portrait miniatures. His collection of Royal memorabilia is extensive.  It took the removal firm two days to pack and remove the contents of the little house.”


His collection of silver is impressive and includes a pair of Paul Storr George III silver comports which have been valued at between £2,000 and £3,000. They have gadrooned and shell-moulded rims, on shaped bases, with Coat of Arms and motto ‘Virtute Quies’. They were bought at auction in late 2013.  


A William and Mary silver tankard, possibly by James Rodd London 1700, has been valued at between £1,200 and £1,800. It is 15cm high, has a round tapering form and a flat cover with scroll thumb-piece. Silver Auction South


Two oil-on-board studies by Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929) of a young man on the beach are estimated at between £3,000 and £5,000. Both studies are painted on either side of the same board. One a study of a young boy seated on rocks, showing his head and torso, painted verso with a sketch of a boy bending forwards on the beach. It is believed these were painted as studies for Tuke’s works depicting young boys bathing around Falmouth Harbour, Cornwall in the early 20th century. This picture had been bought from Ewbank’s within the last 12 months.


The collection features a number of items with direct Royal provenance. These include Queen Victoria's memorial stick pin dedicated to her son Prince Alfred on his death. It has been estimated at between £500 and £1,000 and is engraved 'Dear Alfred July 30th Mama VRI, 1900’. It is gold with a blue enamel anchor, letter A and a crown set with old cut diamonds, total length 8cm.


Another gold memorial stick pin in the sale was presented by Queen Victoria. This one has a portrait of John Brown in relief, initials J.B. and date of his death 1883. The reverse has from V R I  (in monogram). It comes in a Garrards case. It was designed by Her Majesty for presentation to her Highland servants and cottagers to be worn by them on the anniversary of his death, with a mourning scarf. It carries a pre-sale estimate of between £1,000 and £1,500.Tuke Painting Auction


Ewbank added: “Tony’s only regret would be that he will not be at Ewbank’s on March 24 to see the bidders and find out how much his collection will go for. He would have loved attending this auction of his beloved pieces, which he had so much pleasure collecting and owning over many years. He will want them passed on to others who will continue to cherish and enjoy them.”


Viewing for the sale will be available in the week prior, and live internet bidding through www.theauctionroom.com and Ewbank’s live bidding platform will be available. These platforms give on-line buyers the opportunity to participate in sales at no extra cost, giving them savings of up to 6% over other commercial live bidding platforms.


If you have items to consign for sale for any future auction, please get in touch with Ewbank’s for advice on the process. Call 01483 223101 or email valuations@ewbankauctions.co.uk. Or just call in Monday to Friday between 9 and 5. There is plenty of parking on site. Forthcoming sales in March include silver, jewellery, antiques and paintings.