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Company Profile

RIPPON BOSWELL is a specialized auctioneer for antique rugs and textiles. Originally the company was founded by John Rippon in Exeter, southern England, in 1884. An "Estate Agent & Auctioneer", he specialised in property sales and auctions of bequests. Most of his initial clients were colonial officials seeking to establish a suitable retirement home in Britain upon returning from overseas service. John Rippon was succeeded by his son Henry, who went into partnership with George Boswell in 1904. The company has been trading under the name of “RIPPON BOSWELL” ever since. The business passed from George Boswell to L.D. Phillipps.

Rippon Boswell & Co. Team Our team, 2015

During a period of upheaval in the art market, RIPPON BOSWELL was taken over by an international syndicate in 1969. The new owners decided to specialise in carpets and to relocate the company headquarters to London, then a centre for the antique carpet trade. The syndicate established foreign subsidiaries in order to improve its position in the international auction market: a Swiss branch in Basel in 1974 and a German branch in Frankfurt am Main in 1976. At the same time it opened offices in Hong Kong and New York.

In Frankfurt, auctions were held at the Frankfurt Fair until 1986. They were personally conducted by chief auctioneer Samuel Wennek, one of the company’s owners. In the spring of 1987, Christa Lebold and Detlef Maltzahn, long-standing employees of the Frankfurt branch, took over Rippon Boswell Germany and re-established it as their own German limited company (GmbH). The new owners relocated the company’s registered office to Wiesbaden. Unlike the Frankfurt location, the new premises in a large Art Nouveau building at Friedrichstrasse 45, where the company has been based since the autumn of 1987, offer sufficient space to hold the preview exhibitions and auctions in house.

Sales of important objects and collections have gained RIPPON BOSWELL Germany international renown over the past 25 years, and we regularly have achieved exceptional prices. The sale of the large-format “Vanderbilt” Mughal carpet in the autumn of 1989 was spectacular: it was acquired by an Italian private collection for some 1.3 million Deutschmarks – a world record for an oriental carpet sold at auction. At the auction of 1st December 2007, a small-format Mughal niche carpet from the rare Millefleurs group again achieved a high price, selling for 456,000 Euros.

The fact that antique rugs and textiles often achieve outstanding results is due to the particular makeup of RIPPON BOSWELL’s client base – international gallery owners and private collectors – as well as the consistently high standard of the catalogue auctions.

Rippon Boswell & Co. Auktion Major Spring Auction – May 2014
Source: Tim Steinert, CarpetCollector Magazine, Hamburg

In addition to our regular catalogue auctions each spring and autumn, we organise special auctions offering specific collections as required. In March 1992, we held a highly successful auction of the American Viola Dominguez’s collection. Our forced sale of antique collectors’ items seized from the property of a well-known gallery owner by order of the Munich enforcement court caused an international sensation in June 1999. Other sales that attracted a great deal of international attention were our auction of valuable pieces from E. Heinrich Kirchheim’s “Orient Stars” Collection, in October 1999; our special auction of Turkmen collectors’ rugs, “The Lesley and Robert Pinner Collection of Turkmen Rugs”, in May 2004; and our special auction of the South West Persian nomad rugs collected by Professor Klaus-Dieter Kossow, in March 2011.

Losing our managing partner Christa Maltzahn, who succumbed to the incurable motor neurone disease ALS in September 2007, was a grave event that cast a pall over everything. The company is now under the sole management of its owner, Detlef Maltzahn.

In recent months we have expanded our scope by adding a new field of activity. The new project Works of Art has been established to offer interested private collectors a suitable venue to sell their valuable collections through our auction house. The new department is in the hands of art historian Professor Ulrich Schneider, former Director of the Aachen museums and then for many years Director of the Museum for Applied Art in Frankfurt am Main. The first auction with antique silver took place in May of 2013.