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Lot 2

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RARE RUSSIAN IMPERIAL PORCELAIN FACTORY COALPORT SERVICE PLATE, PERIOD OF NICHOLAS I, ST. PETERSBURG, 1845-1855. The sunken cavetto finely painted with the crowned cross from the Chain of the Order of Saint Andrew in a shaped reserve on a white ground, within a wide cobalt blue border, the margins with six shaped cartouches depicting finely painted images of the badges for the Orders of Saint George, Saint Vladimir, Saint Stanislas, Saint Alexander Nevsky, Saint Anne, and the Order of the White Eagle all on a pale yellow ground. The scalloped border with heavy gilding. The underside of base with ring foot and blue underglaze cypher of Tsar Nicholas I. Diameter 10 inches (25.5 cm)

Estimate:  $6,000 - 8,000   € 5,340 - 7,120


American collector William Garner Welbon (1866-1960) as purchased in Moscow in 1925 and thence by decent through the family.

After the state visit of Tsar Nicholas I to England in 1844, Queen Victoria commissioned from Coalport a sixty piece desert service with badges of the Imperial Russian orders as a souvenir of their meeting. The set was delivered to the Tsar in St. Petersburg in 1845. So impressed with the magnificence of the service, the Tsar ordered additional pieces from his own Imperial Porcelain factory to be used at court banquets. It is known in England as the Tsar Nicholas I Service and in Russia as the Coalport Service. For more on this service, and the popularity of English porcelains and faience, at the Imperial court, see Lidia Liakhova, "English Lessons: British Ceramics at the Russian Court between the Congress of Vienna and the Crimean War," Pinakoteka 18-19, pp. 157-163.


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. Rare travel film footage of Moscow taken by Welbon in 1925 shows a number well known Moscow sites which were eventually destroyed including the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. This footage is available for viewing at our homepage website.

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.

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.

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