The Classicist: Memories of Motoring's Golden Age
As a side note to Bonhams' classic car auction at the annual Greenwich Concours d'Elegance in Connecticut this weekend, the sale also includes some reminders of a more elegant age of motoring. In addition to the amazing automobiles on offer, there are a few rare examples of perfectly-preserved traveling cocktail, picnic and tea sets in leather cases from the 1910s and '20s.
More elegant and elaborate antecedents of the kind of picnic sets still produced by the likes of Dunhill - such as the one my colleague Rigel Gregg wrote about the other day - these are the sort of cases one's servants would put into the boot of the Rolls for a day's motoring along with a hamper of delectables from Fortnum & Mason (which are still available today - see the gallery for a picture of their $200 Regent hamper featuring champagne, truffles, paté and port).
Included in the Greenwich auction is this gorgeous Dunhill traveling cocktail set from the 1920s featuring a nickel cocktail shaker, four stacking tumblers, a glass bitters bottle with a silver plated top and three silver plated spirit flasks, in a monogrammed honey leather carrying case, est. $3,000 - $4,000. If these days it seems a bit odd that so much thought and effort went into ways of drinking and driving, remember that as often as not one's chauffeur did the actual work behind the wheel.
Gallery: Traveling in Style
Also up for sale at Bonham's is a superb "En Route" two-person picnic set by Drew & Sons circa 1909, in a fold-front honey leather case, opening to a wicker fretwork lined and fitted interior with an ornate kettle, burner and fretwork stand, sandwich box, various food boxes, Drew china teacups, saucers and plates, glass milk bottle and cutlery, est. $3,000 - $4,000.
Last but not least is a fine and rare two-person leathercloth suitcased teaset by J C Vickery of Regent Street, London patented 1909, opening to reveal a green leather lined interior, fully fitted and complete with enamel lined sandwich boxes, fine Thermos flask, two stacking metal tumblers, metal drinking bottle, two fine bone china cups, fine ceramic butter jar, two salt and pepper condiment bottles, milk bottle and storage boxes, with cutlery and enamel plates and saucers fitted inside the lid, est. $5,000 - $6,000.
See the gallery for these and more luxe motoring sets, including the astounding 16-person picnic trailer custom made by Asprey for billionaire John Kluge, fitted with mahogany tables and chairs, numerous hampers containing china, silver and glassware for sixteen place settings.