Former Wartski jeweller’s shop, Llandudno

Former Wartski jeweller’s shop, 93 Mostyn Street, Llandudno

The mosaic at this shop’s entrance shows the name of the Wartski jewellery business, which once traded Fabergé eggs from Russia’s royal family. Wartski’s large display cabinets still stand inside.

Old photo of Wartski shop a 93 Mostyn StreetMorris Wartski was born in 1855 in Poland to Russian parents. Morris and his brothers Joseph and Philip escaped persecution of Polish Jews by moving to Liverpool. Phillip soon became a businessman in Bangor.

By 1891 Morris was a jeweller living in Bangor with his wife Flora and their six children. By 1895 he had a shop at 21 High Street, Bangor. He spoke English, Welsh, Polish, German and Russian, and often translated for Jewish refugees who arrived in Britain unable to speak English. His friends included the chief rabbi and David Lloyd George, who as Prime Minister was later to support the founding of a Jewish state in the Middle East.

Morris’s sons Charles and Harry expanded the business by opening shops in the fashionable resort of Llandudno, at 33, 93 and 101 Mostyn Street. Charles died young but Harry continued the Llandudno business for the rest of his life. Harry’s brother in law, Emanuel Snowman, helped in Llandudno for a while, then opened a Wartski’s branch in London. The business still trades in London.

In the 1920s the Russian government began selling treasures which formerly belonged to the murdered Tzar, other Russian aristocrats, banks and the Orthodox Church. Emanuel took a bagful of 80 objects by Carl Fabergé from Russia to Paris and had them forwarded to Llandudno. In 1926 Morris acquired 200 artworks from the Russian government.

Of the 52 eggs made by Fabergé for the Tzar’s family, 13 have passed through the Wartski business. Selling Russian valuables was controversial, because of the way the Russian government had acquired them. Objects displayed in Llandudno before sale in London in 1935 included a 12th-century altar cloth, decorated with diamonds and other gems, from the Tzar’s chapel.

Morris died in 1946. This shop has continued to sell jewellery since Wartski’s left in the 1970s, first as home to Brookes and then, from the mid-1980s, to Goldsmiths.

With thanks to John Lawson-Reay, of the Llandudno & Colwyn Bay History Society

Postcode: LL30 2PD    View Location Map

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