The first lot in the British Art Pottery auction on 30th November set a new auction world record for a painted plaque by William S Coleman, a massive £16,500. The circular wall plaque was made at Minton's Art Studio and painted by William Coleman in 1871. The charger was 34cm in diameter; not the largest produced by Minton's but was beautifully decorated with a girl gazing into a fish bowl containing two goldfish. Boldly signed by the artist at the centre of the well; Michael Jeffery, the Art Pottery specialist in charge of the auction believed it possibly was an exhibition piece, so fine was the painting. A small chip to the back rim was not enough to hold the charger back from its pre-sale estimate of £2000-3000. The charger had been known to John Axford for 10 years and Woolley and Wallis were elated to have the opportunity to offer the piece to the market.
Although by far the highest price on the day the whole auction was a testament to the general strength of the British Art Pottery market running from the late nineteenth century up to the work of present day potters. Other highlights of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century period included a grotesque jug modelled as a rodent creature, sold for £2500, a Bushey Heath Pottery vase by Fred Passenger sold for £1100 and a Royal Doulton stoneware bowl modelled by Mark V Marshall decorated with a dragon lizard, damaged, this bowl flew past its conservative estimate of £200-300 finally selling for £1350.
The Moorcroft Pottery section proved one of the most popular factories in the sale with excellent examples of some of William Moorcroft's earliest designs fetching high prices. The beautifully painted Wisteria vase, made at James Macintyre's factory and painted on a cream white ground, sold for £4800, estimate £3000-5000. The auction also included a beautiful mantel clock painted in the Pomegranate pattern. Although a common pattern this example was pre-first world war and was painted in the ochre green colour way highly sought by collector's. Michael Jeffery had waited 15 years to see one of these pieces, previously it had only been seen in factory black and white photographs, 'I did not expect it to turn up unwrapped in the back of a transit van'. The clock had its original metal movement that ticked into life when picked up. With very minor chips to the base rim the clock soared past its £700-900 estimate selling to a private collector for £3000. Hot on the heels of the clock was a twin-handled coupe decorated in a rare Art Nouveau pomegranate design that sold for £1200 (estimate £1000-1500).
Top price in the Ruskin Pottery section was £3200 paid for a large high-fired stoneware vase painted in a running sang de boeuf and lavender glaze, dated 1926.
A private collection of Wedgwood Fairyland lustre ceramics designed by Daisy Makeig Jones was completely sold out - with bids coming from America, Canada, Australia and England. Top price was £6800 paid for an 'Imps on the Bridge' pattern vase decorated on a flame lustre ground.
The beauty of the auction is that it follows the pioneer Art Potters into the second half of the 20th Century. One of the highlights was a Poole Pottery vase modelled in the 1960's by Guy Sydenham. One of only 6 made the vase was modelled as a stylised African head. Bidding took this lot past its £1200-1500 estimate selling for £2500. Quickly following this was a private consignment of Stella Crofts figures. These rare handmade sculptures are not common at auction. A group of 9 separate figures, the feature of an article on the artist published in Antique Collecting magazine, all sold with an artists auction record of £1350 for 'Giraffe Family' a group of three Giraffe that was probably exhibited at The Royal Institute Gallery Exhibition in 1924. Stella Croft's was the start of the Studio Potters section that saw strong prices for artist potters including Reginald Wells, George Cox at Mortlake, Janet Leach, Robert Fournier and Peter Lane.
3rd April Clarice Cliff & Art Deco features a strong selection of Clarice's work and the work of her contemporaries including Susie Cooper, Poole Pottery, Eric Ravilious and Keith Murray.
1St June Arts and Crafts features a variety of Victorian and Edwardian Art Potters including Minton, Wedgwood, Martin Brothers, Sir Edmund Elton, Pilkington's Lancastrian and Ruskin Pottery
27th June British Art Pottery 1900-2000 this 200 lot sale, a new sale category for 2007, will feature excellent examples of art pottery from the Victorian Pioneers to the potters of today (2000). This will include Dame Lucie Rie and Hans Coper
Michael Jeffery 01722 424505