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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New Book Presents Sparkling History of London Royal Jeweler, Wartski

“Wartski – The First 150 Years,” by Geoffrey Munn

Wartski, the 150-year-old London antique dealer, is perhaps best known for its “royal warrant of appointment,” as one of a handful of jewelers that supply goods and services to the royal family. The retail store just off New Bond Street is also known for its famous and well-heeled clientele and for its ever-changing collection of rare jewels and gems.

The person who has kept the store humming for more than 40 years is Geoffrey Munn, Wartski’s managing director. He is a masterful storyteller and one of the world’s leading experts in antique jewelry and other objects, particularly the work of Carl Fabergé. This blog has benefited from Munn’s expertise and his generosity on several occasions. 

Munn’s relationship with Wartski and its history are now detailed in a 300-page book titled, “Wartski - The First 150 Years.” The book by Munn documents the store’s famous transactions and his personal stories. The 61-year-old jeweler has worked at the store since he was 19, so he has personally experienced a significant part of the store’s history.

Geoffrey Munn inside Wartski in 2012. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Munn and the store made headlines about a year ago for being instrumental in identifying the long lost Third Imperial Fabergé Egg. It wasn’t the first time the store was the center of world attention and it won’t be the last. 

Munn is also well-known in the UK from his appearances on the BBC Antiques Road Show.

One chapter in Munn’s book, “The Great and the Good,” is devoted to the rich spectrum of Wartski customers. The list includes John F Kennedy, Sir Noel Coward, Merle Oberon, Tyrone Power, Ian Fleming, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Hutton, Sir Alec Guinness, Dame Edith Sitwell, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Yul Brynner, Joan Rivers, Barbra Streisand, Sir Elton John and Dame Vivienne Westwood.

Another chapter is devoted to European royal patronage. Wartski has served six generations of the British Royal family, including Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II. Welsh gold from was used by Wartski to make the wedding ring for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, on her marriage to Prince William. Other Royal families with a close link to Wartski include those of Denmark, Greece, Spain and Yugoslavia.

Collectors have played a big part in the history of Wartski. Munn gives an insight into their compulsion and how Wartski has been instrumental in forming many remarkable collections, including those of Arthur E. Bradshaw, Malcolm Forbes and Marjorie Merriweather Post.

The book will be published by the Antique Collectors’ Club (ACC) and will be available in May for $125 or 65 British pounds sterling.

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