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A Prince of Wales Presentation Russian Style Silver Cigarette Case, 1911
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A Prince of Wales Presentation Russian Style Silver Cigarette Case, 1911

Measurements: Height: 9.5cm (3.75in)



Russian style silver combination vesta and cigarette case engraved with the Prince of Wales’s feathers over the stylized ‘E’ cypher of Prince Edward (afterwards Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor) surmounted by the crown of the Heir Apparent. Fitted with hinged lid to integral vesta compartment and match strike at the upper end, the other fitted with tinder cord; the cigarette compartment with gilt interior. The reverse engraved ‘To Mr J. Wilson Taylor, in remembrance of the summer of 1911, from Edward P.’ Maker’s mark of Alfred Clark of 33 New Bond Street, London. Complete with original maroon morocco case embossed with gilt Prince of Wales’s feathers.

Prince Edward (Prince of Wales from 1910; King Edward VIII (1936) and Duke of Windsor until 1972) was a callow youth of seventeen when he came into Mr J. Wilson Taylor’s orbit in the summer of 1911. Edward was then an undergraduate at Oxford and in July was invested as Prince of Wales at Caenarfon Castle. His biographer records that George V was constantly badgering him to exercise daily and eat heartily. The prince, however, preferred smoking and maintaining his figure by dieting. Wilson Taylor’s origins are obscure but it appears he was in post as Secretary of the Bath Club as early as 1906 whence George V despatched Princes Edward and Albert (George VI) for swimming lessons under the watchful eye of royal tutor Mr Hansell.  The socially adept Taylor Wilson was also Secretary of the Imperial Sports Club which offered exclusive hospitality to sporty aristocrats at the 1908 London Olympics. In 1909 he joined the club secretary of London’s premier gentleman’s club, White’s, as a founding committee member of a ‘Society’ roller skating club based at the Olympia exhibition hall. During the Great War he served a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, commanding the Foreign Office’s Gun Station in Whitehall against marauding Zeppelin’s and Gotha bombers. Away from this duty, he was active in arranging an American officers’ club at Lord Leconfield’s house.

From the 1920’s Sir John Wilson Taylor (he was knighted in 1934) was the ever-popular secretary of the exclusive sports-themed Bath Club. Like its comedic fictional counterpart Drones Club, it was situated on Mayfair’s Dover Street and boasted a swimming pool into which high-spirited members might be submerged while wearing the ‘full soup and fish’ (ie full evening dress). Similarities did not end there. Both P.G. Wodehouse’s Drones and Wilson Taylor’s Bath held squash tournaments and annual forays to a seaside for golf competitions. The Bath was also one of the few London gentleman’s club that admitted women, a fact that enabled the club to host swimming competition in which H.M. the Queen triumphed in the under-nines category in 1939. An illustrated report in the society magazine Tatler shows Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother dishing out the prizes with Sir John in attendance.