Every so often a group of unique items emerges from a heretofore unknown collection of amazing quality. Such is the case of the W.G. Welbon collection of Imperial Russian arts which is featured in this auction.
William Garner Welbon was born in Detroit Michigan in 1866. He served as an officer in the 10th Ohio Regiment during the Spanish American War. Soon after he enjoyed early success in the fledgling automobile distribution business upon which he built his first fortune. In 1925 at the age of 58, he was given six months to live. Subsequently, he liquidated his business assets and decided to spend his last days cruising the world.
In October of 1925 he departed San Francisco on the ship Manaki to begin his journey which would take him to various worldwide ports including Russia. Family travel films depict rarely seen motion pictures of Moscow; the Kremlin, and various other scenes, dating to circa 1925-1928 where, according to newspaper accounts, he acquired a variety of Imperial family related Russian decorative arts comprising lots 1-19 on this auction.
Mr. Welbon returned to New York in March of 1926 and permanently moved to Miami in 1929. In Florida he built his second fortune as a successful developer, financier and citrus and papaya grower. Through his firm W.G. Welbon Properties, he oversaw the building of more than 5,000 homes in Miami Beach and Coral Gables. Welbon’s main home was on Di Lido Island and his second home was in the Redlands. A March 1938 Miami Daily News features a story about Welbon’s Russian collection and illustrates many of the pieces being offered for auction and which have remained in storage with the family until now. William Garner Welbon died in Florida at the age of 94 having outlived all of his doctors.
Beginning in the 1920’s, the fledgling Soviet government began selling antiques and art through various state run agencies to combat chronic shortages of foreign currency. It was through the various commission shops and soviet agency Mosgostorg that many of the best Russian objects of art were acquired by those Westerners who were able to travel to the Soviet Union at this time.
The majority of the items offered at these shops (if not all) were art treasures confiscated from the church, the imperial family and the aristocracy. Indeed items such as the porcelain from a variety of distinctly patterned services, icons, pictures, glassware and personal memorabilia can be traced back directly to one of many residences used by the Imperial family.
In addition to such shops, brokers and dealers also availed themselves to these treasures the best known amongst those brokers was of course American businessman Armand Hammer whose galleries and exhibitions were the source for much of the most important works by Russian craftsman such as Fabergé and as found in various museum’s collections throughout the Unites States such as Hillwood Museum Estate and Gardens Washington, D.C
Jackson’s International is pleased to bring this important collection to market for the Welbon family whose desire it is that a larger audience enjoy the items which have been part of their family for nearly a century.
Lot 2: Rare Russian Imperial Porcelain Factory Coalport Service Plate, Period of Nicholas I, St. Petersburg, 1845-1855
Lot 3: A Porcelain Plate From The Military Service, Imperial Porcelain Factory, St. Petersburg Dated 1842
Lot 16: A Fabergé Silver Mounted Table Medal, Victor Aarne, St. Petersburg, C. 1898
Lot 14: Six Rare Russian Cut Glass Imperial Banquet Service Liqueurs, Imperial Glassworks, St. Petersburg, C. 1850