Wartski is a family-owned firm of art and antique dealers, specialising in fine jewellery, gold boxes, silver and works of art by Fabergé. The firm was founded in Bangor, North Wales in 1865 by Morris Wartski, maternal great-grandfather of the present day Chairman. By 1907 two shops had been established in the fashionable seaside resort of Llandudno. The business thrived under the patronage of King Edward VII and a colourful clientele including the Marquis of Anglesey who had a penchant for emerald-set ping-pong shirts.
The two branches of the firm in Wales were augmented by a third in London, opened by Emanuel Snowman, the son-in-law of Morris Wartski, in 1911. During the 1920s Emanuel was among the first to negotiate with the government of the Soviet Union to purchase treasures that had been confiscated following the revolution of 1917. Over more than a decade he acquired many important works of art, including a gold chalice commissioned by Catherine the Great and eleven of the Imperial Easter eggs.
Emanuel’s son, A. Kenneth Snowman, built upon his father’s work, adding an academic dimension to the business through his pioneering studies and exhibitions. ‘The Art of Carl Fabergé’, published in 1953, was the first book to be written on the subject. He was immortalized by Ian Fleming, a Wartski customer, in the James Bond novella ‘Property of a Lady’, which described him in Wartski’s premises, then on Regent Street.
Mr Snowman wore his learning lightly and remained a hospitable figure until his sad passing in July 2002. His son Nicholas Snowman succeeded him as Chairman and continues to support the firm’s welcoming and scholarly traditions.
Geoffrey Munn, the firm’s Managing Director, has written widely on the subject of jewellery. He curated the ‘Tiaras’ exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2002. Geoffrey is also one of the regular experts on the Antiques Roadshow.
Director Katherine Purcell has written the definitive study ‘Falize: A Dynasty of Jewellers’ Her most recent exhibition as curator was Japonisme. Director Kieran McCarthy has also been widely published and is a lecturer on the subject of Fabergé.