No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
Armour of quality surviving from the Gothic period and early Renaissance - what has been described as its Golden Age - is now almost all locked up in public museums, and rarely comes onto the market. Of the remaining private collections of such armour, the most important is the dynastic armoury of the Trapp family at Schloss Churburg (Castel Coira) in the South Tyrol, from which nothing can be sold without the authority of the Italian state. The second is that of R.T. Gwynn, of which the greater part forms the present sale.
Reginald Gwynn - known to his friends as Peter - was born in Gloucester on 27th January, 1905, the eldest of four brothers, all of whom were educated at the King's School there. All were also choristers in the Cathedral, and it was his daily association with this great medieval building that gave him his interest in the medieval period. The Cathedral was in fact the source of the first antique he ever acquired, a vertebra from the tomb of the last abbot of the former monastery, purloined when it was briefly opened during some repairs. Sadly, his ownership of the relic was also brief, and ended with a painful interview with the headmaster!
In 1921 (when working as a clerk), he enlisted in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, a Yeomanry regiment, being inspired to do so by a love of horses that has lasted all his life. Unfortunately, he had the disappointing, though historically interesting, experience of having to assist in the conversion of the regiment from horses to armoured cars. In the following year he joined the Royal Navy, where he was much involved with submarines, but the diminishing prospects for promotion caused by government cuts to the armed forces led him to resign and join the F.W. Woolworth's British company, starting in 1927 as a Learner on the shop floor of their store in Edinburgh. He retired in 1965, at the age of 60, as Managing Director, and then went into partnership with the London antique dealer, the late Ronald Lee, from whom he had bought many of the mid-17th-century English clocks that are his other great collecting passion, together with early oak furniture. Those who have had the privilege of visiting him are unlikely to forget the remarkable display of these collections in his 16th-century house at Epsom, which is itself remarkable in that it was moved there by his predecessor from its original site near Ongar, Essex.
Mr. Gwynn's interest in arms and armour started with early firearms, but shortly after the War he realised that his real love was for medieval and early Renaissance armour and its accessories. He decided therefore to concentrate his resources on forming the best collection of these he could, in the process disposing of his firearms, except for a few exceptional items. This was highly characteristic of him, since two of his outstanding qualities as a collector have been his determination always to go for the best, and his willingness, when given the opportunity to acquire it, to pull out all financial stops, including, if necessary, the sacrifice of less important pieces. His decision to switch from firearms to armour, as it happened, turned out to be particularly well timed, for during the immediate post-War period, until well into the 1960s, an ample supply of fine armour and arms was coming onto the market at amazingly low prices. Much came from the outstanding collection formed between the wars by William Randolph Hearst (d. 1951), and this and the early 20th-century collection formed by Sir Edward Barry (sold in 1965), were two of Mr. Gwynn's main sources. His remarkable success as a collector is demonstrated by the fact that of the 58 lots in the Sale, excluding books, no less than 38 comprise pieces dating from before c. 1520. They include a bacinet, two sallets, a Spanish cabacete, helmets attributed to the famous Helmschmid and Seusenhofer workshops, a breast-plate by Hans Prunner of Innsbruck, who worked, among others, for Philip "The Handsome" of Spain and the Archduke Siegmund of Tyrol, a breast-plate from the Churburg armoury, a superb arm-defence from one of a group of tournament-armours made for the Habsburg Court in Brussels, and an extremely rare late medieval mail shirt. There are also a few good later pieces, among which can be mentioned a magnificent Saxon mail cape (so-called 'bishop's mantle') of incredibly fine mail and also a notable group of Scottish arms, acquired under the influence of Mr. Gwynn's late wife, who came from Edinburgh.
BOOKS AND CATALOGUES
All sold not subject to return