LONDON.-For 25 years the most stylish store in Dorset has been Talisman. Crammed into the Old Brewery in Gillingham are antiques, statues, furniture and ceramics that give the impression of an elaborate opera set. On Tuesday, November 1 & Wednesday, November 2, 2005 Sotheby's will sell the contents of the Old Brewery as Talisman's owner Ken Bolan is relocating to specially designed premises on London's King's Road next spring. The thousand lots in Sotheby's sale are expected to fetch in excess of £2 million with estimates ranging from a few hundred pounds up to £150,000.
Ken Bolan has travelled extensively both buying for specific clients and to fill the vast space in the Old Brewery, sourcing pieces from all over Europe, Latin America and not least the West Country. The result is a mix of complementary styles and unique pieces. Fans of Ken's eagle eye will spot their own favourites among highly valuable garden statuary and the vast array of furniture. This will be the last chance to buy from Talisman in Dorset, which has attracted both a local and international clientele over the years with some frequently flying in for voracious buying sorties. Many celebrities are avowed fans of Ken's style and a generation of Dorset country houses bear witness to his taste.
Harry Dalmeny, Chairman of Sotheby's Olympia and specialist in charge of the sale, said: "Ken has such a brilliant eye and his pieces are so unusual that we expect competition to be fierce. Locals are certainly going to miss the ritual Saturday lunches at Talisman where rained-off shooting parties and New York interior decorators would nearly come to blows over a Scandinavian commode or cast-iron fountain. Talisman is justly renowned for its spectacular garden statuary and rare continental furniture, particularly Scandinavian pieces and it has been fascinating to discover the history of pieces that Ken has unearthed and will now include in this auction. Talisman will be very different when it moves to London so this is the end of a rustic idyll. It is a great honour for Sotheby's to help with this relocation by holding the sale on the premises."
Talisman first opened its doors in the Spring of 1981, in the days when people predominantly purchased traditional English furniture. The owner, Ken Bolan had moved back to the UK from Switzerland where, for more than a decade he had been running four successful shops importing the 'English look'. Within a year of opening in Dorset Ken decided to change the style of Talisman completely, choosing more modern and decorative pieces, which were a reflection of his own personal taste. The change was an immediate success and since then Talisman has continued to expand on its own inimitable style. Now having successfully purchased a unique Art Deco garage on the New Kings Road in London, Ken intends to create a unique and innovative space for his future business.
Ken Bolan said: "25 years ago I opened the doors of Talisman and from that first day it has been an incredible journey of discovery in furnishing and design. I never thought I would buy the many thousands of objects, nor meet so many people who felt so excited by my own personal taste. Earlier this year I heard that the most wonderful Art Deco building had become available in New King's Road London and after some consideration I decided to relocate the whole Talisman operation to London. In light of this I gave instruction to Sotheby's to hold a grand auction of the entire Talisman stock and in mid-June Sotheby's descended on us!
"What followed was a huge learning curve, as my only experience up to that point had been attending auctions, in order to bid. Suddenly I was surrounded by experts in garden statuary, 20th-century art, continental furniture, sculpture and glass - not to mention stylists, marketing and event managers. Then came the photographers who spent nearly a month taking more than a 1000 photographs. Sotheby's staff have been fantastic and the whole experience has been exciting, exhilarating, great fun and terrifying. I am thrilled to be holding this sale and hope that many people will make their own personal discoveries at the auction. My final tribute goes to all of my longstanding clients who have loyally supported Talisman over the years in Dorset. I thank them and hope that they will take the time to visit our new premises in London next year."
The sale will offer a huge selection of decorative arts ranging from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods, right through to 1970s Danish Design and contemporary bronzes. Among the highlights is a wrought iron table by Piquet of Lyon, topped with an exceptionally large piece of rosso antico marble (est. £18,000-22,000). There are also Art Deco dining tables (estimates ranging from £1,200-1,800), French bronze Art Deco figures (estimates ranging from £400-600), carved alabaster animals from the 1920s (estimates ranging from £1,000-1,500) and silvered bronze chandeliers (estimates from £2,000-3,000). The sale offers some rare delights such as highly-sought after 1970s Lucite coffee tables (estimates from £700-1,000) and a solid rosewood boardroom table from the 1960s, which seats more than 20 people (est. £3,000-4,000).
The sale also contains a strong group of Art Deco glass, notably pieces of Le Verre Francais, which characterise the vitality of the Art Deco period. Ernest and Charles Schneider founded their glass works at Epinay-sur-Seine in France in 1913. Their Le Verre Francais range, which started in 1918, was a series of art glass works in two or three layered opaque glass, acid-etched and polished in highly stylised geometric repeating patterns in bright colours. The range was specifically designed for sale in the major Parisian department stores and had its own showroom at 14, Rue de Paradis. Many of the pieces in the sale are highly unusual in that they are uncharacteristically large. The majority of pieces produced at the glass works were only 30-40cm in height. Estimates range from £600-6,000.
Scandinavian furniture in the sale offers a rare opportunity to buy from a collecting category that is rarely seen in the UK and America. Traditional painted pine furniture from Sweden is both minimalist and stylish and therefore fitting of any contemporary interior. The sale includes one of the most extensive ranges, with examples from the early 18th century through to the later Gustavian Neoclassical period. Among the earlier pieces are highly decorative cabinets painted to simulate marble, for example, a large Danish painted Schreeb Shrank, estimated to fetch £6,000-10,000. Later Neoclassical pieces include tables, chests and mirrors, with estimates ranging from £500-12,000. There are also some more traditional furniture pieces in the sale, such as an early 18th-century birch wood cabinet on chest (est. £4,000-6,000) and a transitional rosewood and tulipwood commode in the style of Johann Wilhelm Netznascher (active between 1769-1783). The piece dates from circa 1770 and is estimated to fetch £8,000-12,000.
The garden statuary in the sale reflects the excellence and international nature of the decorative interior pieces on offer at Talisman. Ken Bolan has cleverly added to the range of antique ornaments on offer by commissioning works especially for Talisman.
English and Italian decorative antiques are particularly well represented. There is a good selection of Blashfield and Blanchard terracottas (estimates ranging from £1,000-3,000), as well as a very exciting, previously unrecorded life-size Coade Stone group estimated to fetch £10,000-15,000. Italian ornamentation which inspired so much of the world's garden decoration is predominantly represented by sculpture, the highlight of which is an over-life-size set of carved limestone seasons (est. £50,000-80,000). Unusually there are several pieces from Scandinavia exposing a previously little known area of the market to a wider audience. The s