Shelley

The demand for wares from many porcelain factories has taken something of a downturn in recent times, but many of the products emanating from the doors of the Shelley factory have always kept their appeal.

The Shelley factory, established in 1872, was first known as Wileman & Co., then as Foley and as Shelley from 1925, becoming Shelley Potteries Ltd. in 1929 and finally Shelley China Ltd. in 1965. Shelley, under the direction of Art Director, Frederick Rhead, produced a number of hand painted earthenware grotesques, animals and Toby jugs in the 1890s which were deliberately made to look ugly. These achieved great success, but it was not until the 1920s that Shelley pieces achieved their ultimate success. Their high quality Art Deco tableware became famous with the help of a national advertising campaign.

After the Art Deco success came the figures of fairies and other characters, as well as nursery wares based on the illustrations of Mabel Lucie Attwell.

Shelley pieces are always popular in auctions and the two main collecting areas are the Art Deco tea wares and the Mabel Lucie Attwell related pieces, which tend to represent children, the clergy and golfers.

Although Shelley figures are amongst the strangest ever produced they are still very collectable. The most interest tends to be in the chubby cheeked child studies accompanied by fairy folk. Many of these are modelled riding a variety of animals and birds, or standing on toadstools, sometimes with the addition of rabbits.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Make Your Valentine Sparkle!

Sheffield Auction Gallery’s forthcoming Auction of Antique, Vintage & Modern, Fine & Costume Jewellery on Thursday 25th January includes a large selection of diamond and gem set rings.

With estimates ranging from as little as £50 there is something to suit every budget.

An engagement, anniversary, special gift or just because, there is something on offer for everyone to suit every taste – antique, vintage or modern.

Antique, Vintage & Modern, Fine & Costume Jewellery Auction
Thursday 25th January at 2.30pm

On view – Wednesday 24th January 9am-4:45pm and Sale day from 8:30am

Sheffield Auction Gallery, Windsor Road, Heeley, Sheffield S8 8UB

For further information or to consign entries in to future auctions, please contact specialist valuer Sarah Clark or by calling 0114 281 6161 or by visiting our website.

Lalique Perfume Bottles

My wife loves perfume and so I buy her perfume every Christmas. This year she bought me a wrist watch, which I have to say put her bottle of perfume somewhat in the shade. Next year I will buy her a Lalique perfume bottle to even things up a little.

Rene Lalique (1860-1945) began his career designing jewellery, he began working with glass in the 1890s and opened his first glass shop in Paris on the famous place Vendôme in 1905. His work caught the eye of perfumer Franҫois Coty who had a shop nearby and Coty invited Lalique into a partnership initially designing labels for his perfumes and later the glass bottles. Their partnership revolutionised the perfume industry; it was the first time perfumes were packaged in distinctive bottles evocative of the fragrance contained within and it was a huge success. By the 1920s Lalique has three factories and produced exquisite perfume bottles for over 60 fashionable and desirable perfumers.

A LALIQUE SCENT BOTTLE made £3000 at Sheffield Auction Gallery in 2011
A LALIQUE SCENT BOTTLE made £3000 at Sheffield Auction Gallery in 2011

The perfume bottles in highest demand now are the more unusual or abstract with inventive designs and forms. Most bottles had modern and stylized designs following the Art Deco style. Early examples feature more flowing lines, floral
designs and figural etching. Some bottles were formed in bold shapes with oversized decorative stoppers, occasionally more than one stopper could be designed for a bottle.

Bottles that are sealed with their original contents remaining or bottles with their original outer packaging still intact are considerably more valuable and thus more popular amongst collectors. Bottles made or designed after 1945 will not feature the initial “R” in their mark as this was never used after Rene Lalique’s death. The “R” is often added to later pieces to make them appear earlier and thus more desirable.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Doulton Figures

At this time of year present buying is constantly on my wife’s lips and the poor old moths have no peace inside my wallet. This is also the time of year I think about Royal Doulton figures. They have never been more reasonable to purchase and they make wonderful Christmas presents.

Royal Doulton figures were one of the company’s most popular products. Firmly established by the early 20th century, their range now numbers around 2000. Popular amongst collectors are the “fair ladies” who, as the name suggests, are ladies posed in carefree romantic postures.

Values tend to be highest for the early figures from the 1920s and 1930s, or those with extremely short production runs, typically a year or less. Key designers to look out for include Charles Noke, fascinated by entertainers; Leslie Harradine, known for his ladies in crinoline dresses; Peggy Davies, known for her teenagers and historical personalities; Nada Pedley, for romantic Victorian and Edwardian ladies and Pauline Parsons, the leading modeller of the “fair ladies”.

Besides the “fair ladies” , other popular collections include children, historical and literary personalities and miniature figurines. The miniature figurines were launched in 1932 and again in 1988 and the most popular types are the Charles Dickens characters and the small versions of the “fair ladies”. Some of the miniatures, if rare or desirable, will realise similar or even higher prices than their larger versions.

Royal Doulton figures at very reasonable prices, coupled with Christmas, perhaps now is the time
to buy one.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Clarice Cliff

Over the years I have touched more than once on a wonderful designer called Clarice Cliff. I have, I am sure said rare shapes, rare patterns and rare colours are by far the most expensive of her products. I have also said that the mundane pieces never attract a great deal of interest. However, I have never really discussed Clarice herself. What an amazing woman she was. Unlike her four sisters Sara, Hannah, Dorothy and Ethel, Clarice had a goal for herself and she was determined to achieve it.

At the age of 17, due to a shortage of workers caused by the First World War, Clarice Cliff began a job as an apprentice lithographer with the A J Wilkinson factory in Burslem. Here she began to learn the techniques of modelling, gilding and decorating. The girls who worked with Clarice at this time recalled that she was never really one of them. When they left for home Clarice stayed behind practicing and modelling because she regarded her work as more than just a job. For a female to become a designer in the 1920’s was really unheard of and it was largely due to her incredibly strong personality, amazing talent and her association with one of the Shorter brothers who owned the factory.

When the brothers purchased Newport Pottery, the adjoining factory to their own, Colley Shorter quickly recognised Clarice Cliffs talents. He became her protector, her sponsor, and her lover. By 1927 he had set her up in her own small studio and on 21st December 1940 he married her.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Royal Dux

Recently when taking off on a flight to Austria I calmed my nerves by not dwelling on the strange noises the plane was making and wishing we’d gone to Scarborough, but on the wonderful Austrian Royal Dux porcelain factory and it’s chequered history.

In 1853 in the town of Duchov a factory was founded and the story of Royal Dux began. After several years of producing utility ceramics the factory was bought by Eduard Eichler and became E Eichler Thonwaren Fabrik. Success followed with the production of terracotta, faience and majolica items, winning a Silver award at the 1878 Paris Exhibition.

An Art Nouveau Royal Dux Porcelain Centrepiece modelled as a lady leaning against a shell shaped bowl m raised on sinuous foliate stem the shaped base with female masks pink triangle mark and shape number 833 62cm high. Sold at Sheffield Auction Gallery in 2017 for £340
An Art Nouveau Royal Dux Porcelain Centrepiece modelled as a lady leaning against a shell shaped bowl m raised on sinuous foliate stem the shaped base with female masks pink triangle mark and shape number 833 62cm high. Sold at Sheffield Auction Gallery in 2017 for £340

A pink triangle became the trademark in 1900.The raised triangle has an acorn in the centre with the inscription ‘Royal Dux Bohemia’, which is still used today. The Art Nouveau and the Vienna Secession were probably the most successful periods for Royal Dux production. The company won awards in Exhibitions in Milan, Liberec and St. Louis, having representatives and showrooms all over Europe.

The Art Nouveau production is the most collected period. Pieces from this period are very recognisable with their fleshy colourings and attention to facial detail. Classically modelled maidens abound, along with shell shaped vases and bowls, elephants, dogs and Arab figures on camels and horses.

The World Wars affected production, output ceased in the first war and in the second, the German government took over. After the war it was taken over by the new communist government of Czechoslovakia, but today it is privately owned.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Telephones

I wonder what Alexander Graham Bell would make of the modern all singing all dancing mobile phone, because it was he who set the ball rolling in1876 when he patented the speaking telephone. Since then all manner of designs for this amazing invention have been made. An early design for the telephone was the ‘candlestick’ model made with a separate mouth piece and ear piece, synonymous with Al Capone.

It was however, the invention of Bakelite that saw the development of telephones take a new direction, beginning with ‘pyramid’ phones which are now Art Deco icons. Commonly made in black, the rarer green, white and red versions make much more at auction.

A beautiful copper, brass & bakelite telephone
A beautiful copper, brass & bakelite telephone

All Bakelite telephones show their date and manufacturer on the base and their value increases if they still have their original chrome dial, plaited cord and pullout drawer in tact. Like most things, the telephone also had it designers styles; the first of these is largely credited to the ‘Ericofon’. It was the first one piece telephone and was developed by Ericsson in the early 1950’s. It came in fourteen different colours but pink and orange still are the rarest and most collectable.

The production of the ‘Ericofon’ was world wide. The British one piece telephone, the ‘Trimphone’ and the Italian version ‘Grillo’ never achieved the success of the ‘Ericofon’ and very few are available on the auction market today. Obviously though, this only increases their value if you are lucky enough to find one. The value of a telephone lies in the desirability of the model and the rarity of the colour.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau describes a style used in architecture and the arts from the last decade of the 19th century and into the early years of the 20th century and it had essentially two main aims. One was a rejection of the historical retrospective styles so prominent in the latter half of the 19th century. Art Nouveau was of the here and now and the future, not an imitation of past styles.

However the style did at times use ideas and motifs of medieval origin. The other aim was a rejection of another trend, that of naturalism, which was basically an imitation or copy of the natural world and everyday life. Art Nouveau did embrace nature but not in the form of imitation. Some of the most characteristic and recognisable images of Art Nouveau are the undulating or waving lines and the stylised foliage motifs.

A De Morgan Fireplace Tile
A De Morgan Fireplace Tile

The style, as with all styles, does have many variations and these depend on several factors, including country of production, techniques and materials. Also many items produced did not live up to the aspirations of the style. Many, for example, included too many New-Classical influences or relied too heavily on Japanese or Eastern themes.

Art Nouveau can provide a wealth of collecting themes. There are many well known names to be found including Galle, an important artist in the French Art Nouveau who is known for his polychrome glass vases; Tiffany from New York who also did wonderful things with glass and Lalique who truly raised the level of applied arts with his ability to turn even a piece of jewellery into an intricate work of art.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Reuge Sainte Croix

The time is 7.30pm, the day is Friday and it is late November. Outside it is dark and cold and a lady waits in the softly lit hallway of her late Art Deco home. Her husband will bring the car to the door. He always brings the car to the door on special nights and tonight is very special, the companies biggest ever Christmas ball.

She carefully takes her Reuge Sainte Croix musical compact/cigarette case from her handbag and checks her lipstick one last time. Oh how she loves her Reuge Sainte Croix. There is a possibility that it is that very same compact which we have for sale in our Antiques and Fine Art auction at the end of September. There is also, I have to say, a possibility that it is not. Either way, I bet it could tell us a wonderful tale.

Sainte Croix is situated in the Jura mountains in Switzerland near the border with France. It was in that beautiful location in the 1860’s that Charles Reuge established his first shop, selling musical pocket watches. He developed a tiny musical cylinder which could be incorporated into a watch movement.

Charles’ son, Albert, further developed the business by opening a small musical box workshop. It was however Charles’ grandson Guido Reuge who successfully guided the company through the middle years of the twentieth century, putting musical movements into all sorts of wonderful things. He was at the helm when our lovely little compact rolled out of Sainte Croix and into the arms of a lucky lady.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Susie Cooper

Born into a middle class family in the Potteries in 1902, Susie Cooper was hardly a typical factory worker. She joined local pottery A E Gray & Co. Ltd. to gain the experience of working in the decorative arts that she required to attend London’s Royal College of Art. Initially Cooper was a production line painter, but her talent was quickly spotted and instead of going to London, she became a designer at Gray’s.

Cooper was influenced by other artists, but her contribution to the company’s style, – hand painted and abstract patterns with thick bands of colour – was highly personal. Gray’s used a factory mark with the words ‘Designed by Susie Cooper’ to identify her work. This early work of flowers and Chintzware is still very popular with collectors.

By 1929, Cooper had left Gray’s and set up on her own in premises at the Chelsea Works, Burslem. Products made after her departure from Gray’s are marked ‘A Susie Cooper Production’.  However, in 1931, after interest from Wood & Sons, she moved to a larger studio at their Crown Works and products were then marked with the familiar leaping deer that is most associated with her work. The 1930s were the most dazzling years for Cooper and the high demand for her work led to her use of lithography at a time when most firms were still using mechanical decoration.

By the late 1930s, Cooper was producing up to two hundred new designs a year, featuring banding, polka dots and stylised flowers. Patterns that were both modern and timeless such as ‘Patricia Rose’ and ‘Endon’ were key to her success, appealing to a far wider audience than the work of many of her contemporaries.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website