My best auction buy: Tim Gosling27 September 2021 Tim Gosling, luxury bespoke furniture designer
Bespoke furniture and interior designer Tim Gosling is passionate about craftsmanship, and he is also passionate about the language and stories told by historical homes. In an extraordinary combination of good fortune and canny antique hunting he discovered this magnificent model of the RMS Aquitania at auction, which has some surprising parallels with the chateau he is restoring in France.
Tell us about your favourite auction buy
I bought at auction from thesaleroom.com the most incredible model of the RMS Aquitania ocean liner. It is interesting for a number of reasons, not least that the model itself is over two metres long and weighs a huge amount, having been handmade in the 1950s out of carved wood and metal.
So why buy a model of this size and why the Aquitania for a chateau in France?
We are restoring a chateau in France (@restorationchateau) and the staircase at the chateau was one that you couldn’t help falling in love with – French, sweeping Ormolu and bronze detailing and extraordinary proportions. We have all the blueprints and the invoices from the workshop that made it in Paris in 1910.
A few months after the staircase was made, the Aquitania liner commissioned the exact same staircase to be made from the same workshop for the new liner which, after three years of manufacturing, was launched on the 23rd April 1913 (a year before the outbreak of the First World War). Our staircases are identical.
For the last year I’ve had a search word of ‘Aquitania’ in my alerts on thesaleroom.com, so anything connected with the liner would be brought to my attention. We purchased all the engineering books, not only from the Aquitania but the Lusitania. The Lusitania is the sister ship and the one that most people will be familiar with, because when that was sunk by the Germans in the First World War and killed American passengers, it helped to bring the US into the war.
It doesn’t stop there… during the Second World War our chateau was occupied by the Nazis as their Command Headquarters until the US First Division, during the D Day landings, pushed them out, and Eisenhower took up residence to run Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion force (the D-Day landings being only 29 minutes away from the chateau). The Aquitania was the longest running Cunard liner, having served in both World Wars. It became a troop ship and ended up taking Canadian and American soldiers stationed at the chateau back to their home countries.
Where does it live now?
The Aquitania staircase is now outside the owner of the scrapyard’s house in Edinburgh, who cut up the vessel in the 1950s. The model encompasses all these amazing stories and will look sensational on the upper landing of the chateau next to this very staircase!
Have you got any tips for others looking for unique items at auction?
My top tip for anyone wishing to find and buy something at auction is to keep a live word search on the auction site. Anything related to the item you are seeking will come up and not only will you learn more around your subject, but you will have the opportunity to expand your collection.
Tim was listed among the 50 Finest Interior Designers 2021 by Town & Country magazine. He is documenting the restoration of his French chateau on Instagram, where he explains more about the wonderful Aquitania model and where it will live.
Tim discovered his model of the Aquitania by using ‘auction alerts’ on thesaleroom.com. If you would like to receive alerts for specialised items you are interested in, you can sign up in your ‘My Saleroom’ dashboard. We search catalogues daily and will email you when new lots are added that match your interests.