The Warner Collection of British Delftware

9th August 2019

At the age of 76 Professor Sir Frederick Edward Warner bravely led a team of scientists into the nuclear fallout zone at Chernobyl, following the disaster in April 1986. A move that was to result in the formation of a permanent task force of older scientists who would enter contaminated areas after nuclear incidents – his theory being that the over-65s had less to lose than their younger colleagues.

His reputation as one of the UK’s leading chemical engineers is well established, but Sir Frederick was also a collector of some significance and his large collection of British delftware is now coming onto the market almost ten years after his death in 2010 at the age of 100.

Sir Frederick, always known as Ned, was born in March 1910 and educated at Wanstead National School and Bancrofts School in Essex. He graduated from UCL in 1931 and had a dalliance with the Holborn Students Group with whom he travelled to anti-war conferences, in 1934 helping to break up a Nazi rally in Schleswig Holstein.

During his long career as a chemical engineer, Warner was a founding member of the Royal Academy of Engineering and was the longest-serving member of the Institute of Chemical Engineers, which he joined in 1936. He was awarded the Leverhulme Medal in 1978 and the Buchanan Medal in 1982, the latter “for his important role in reducing pollution of the River Thames”.

He started collecting English delftware in the 1960s alongside his second wife, Lady Barbara, buying principally from the London auction houses. Many pieces in the collection were sourced from the sales of important named collections such as those of Louis Lucian Lipski, Sir Gilbert Mellor, and Professor Frederic Horace Garner, and it is likely that the latter, who was also a chemical engineer, inspired the younger man to start collecting, as their paths almost certainly crossed.

The collection spans three centuries and contains some real rarities, including a London delftware ‘Fecundity’ dish dated 1638, one of the earliest dated examples of this type of ware and illustrated in Michael Archer and Louis Lipski’s book on Dated English Delftware. There are a number of so-called ‘blue dash’ chargers painted with royal portraits, depictions of The Temptation, and a number of tulip designs. The vast majority of the collection has not been seen on the open market for upwards of 50 years, and this market freshness coupled with excellent provenance is expected to encourage keen interest among potential buyers.

The catalogue will go online within the next couple of weeks; please click here for more information.

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