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The King Collection: A Retrospective

Posted on 31 August 2017


We were sad to hear a couple of weeks ago that after a long illness, Ken King had passed away.

Ken will be remembered by many as the author of the illustrated list of end grain Tunbridge Ware views, which he compiled in 1981.  By his own admission this list had its shortcomings but was more comprehensive than anything that had previously been available. Indeed for many years it was a sought after listing for dealers and collectors alike and was not superseded until 2012, when Howard Rockley produced his guide to Topographical Tunbridge Ware.

Throughout the 1980’s & 90’s Ken actively bought and studied Tunbridge Ware views, widening the body of information available. It was down to him that the view of Gisborough Priory was finally identified and we are sure he would have been delighted to learn that we discovered its companion view of Wollaton Hall in 2014.

It was in 2012, after many years of collecting, that Ken finally decided to sell his Tunbridge Ware. We feel that we were very privileged to be invited to handle the collection, the bulk of which was sold in two exhibitions. The first of these was Landmarks, featuring a large number of Tunbridge Ware views, which attracted enormous interest amongst collectors both home and abroad. Indeed it had been a number of years since such an important collection had appeared on the market. I am sure many are grateful to Ken for this and will continue to remember him.

By chance the day after we heard of Ken’s death, we were delighted to re-acquire a piece from the King Collection.  Like all the collection it is fine quality. Although not one of Ken’s topographical pieces, it is an unusually designed desk stand with a drawer and a carrying handle.  We therefore feel it is appropriate to choose it as our Object of the Month for September.

For those wishing to find out more about the King Collection, the Landmarks Exhibition illustrated booklet and Howard Rockley’s Topographical Tunbridge Ware can be purchased through the web site and are listed in the section of  Tunbridge Ware under £100.