When a pair of investiture chairs sold for over £40,000 at Christie’s late last year, these iconic pieces of 1960’s design were well and truly thrust into the spotlight.
The chairs were created for the investiture ceremony of Prince Charles, hosted at Caernarfon Castle on 1st July 1969. Designed by Antony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon, brother-in-law of the queen, with the help of Carl Toms and John Pound, the chairs were an integral part of the ceremony which was filled with great pomp and pageantry and designed to reflect a modern Royal Family, fit for the television age. These seats were created predominantly for the several thousand guests who were expected at the ceremony and were stained a bright vermillion red and stamped with the Prince of Wales feathers in gold leaf. A total of 4,600 copies were made at the Remploy factory in Bridgend, each was then dismantled after the ceremony and offered in a flat pack for £12 each, with guests having priority over their assigned chair during the event.
An armchair from the investiture of the Prince of Wales, 1969, estimate £400 - £600, available at Cheffins Art & Design Sale on 27th May
Famously, Lord Snowdon bought six of these for his own collection. It was from these six that the two at Christie’s were offered, and this provenance took the price well over the £4,000 - £6,000 estimate. However, with only a finite number of the chairs in existence, and with many having not worn well throughout the past 52 years, these chairs represent good value when they usually tend to sell for a few hundred pounds apiece. Provenance and condition are key here, and the more valuable examples tend to be those which come either unused, still in their flat pack boxes and ideally those which still have their original tweed cushion.
We have slowly seen the interest in investiture chairs increase, partly due to the public fascination with the Royal Family, (and partly in thanks to The Crown and its illustrious illustration of the relationship between Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones) but also as tastes and aesthetics change. Thankfully for us, antiques are ‘in’ and anything with a good tale to tell tends to be sought-after by collectors and trade buyers. As a result, investiture chairs are now appearing in various interior design schemes and in the ownership of some of today’s most well-known tastemakers, for example, one can be spotted in the stairway of Ben Pentreath’s much-coveted London flat.
On the 27th May we will be offering an investiture chair, consigned from a private vendor in Wales. Including its original cushion, the chair is in good condition and has an estimate of £400 - £600.
View the catalogue and register to bid online here: https://www.cheffins.co.uk/fine-art/catalogue-view,the-art-design-sale_190.htm