My wife and I, as is our occasional want, recently spent a weekend in a lovely Yorkshire town, in a “highly rated” Yorkshire hotel. My wife and I love Yorkshire towns and we specially love “highly rated” hotels, not this one though. Fortunately space here is limited so just enough to disagree with “highly” and to say that the purpose of the visit was to assist a dear friend and to value her late father’s Clarice Cliff collection for probate.
Clarice Cliff designs were brightly coloured, geometric patterns that had never been seen before with her first range; ‘Bizarre Ware’ launching in 1928. She painted many of the wares herself but her popularity and success saw the necessity for a team of painters to be trained up by her. This team of women is often referred to as the ‘Bizarre Girls’. As time went on, and their skills in depicting Cliff’s designs increased, they were given a certain amount of free reign and this can be seen in wares where the designs are slightly altered from the original. Examples like this are keenly collected.
Popular patterns include ‘Poplar’, ‘Crocus’ and ‘Coral Firs’, although collectability is defined also by shape, rarity and colour. The colour orange is common while purple is generally rarer. Sugar sifters or honey pots, for example, may be the focus of a collection with the conical sugar sifter launched in 1931 being one of the most iconic designs of Cliff’s career. Alternatively plates, which are relatively cheaper to acquire and show off Cliff’s designs particularly well, may act as a basis for a beginner collector.
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
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