Reminiscing; continued…

Christmas is over for another year and as the tree comes down my thoughts return again to all those highlights our valuers gave me when I asked, as we used to ask our children after a holiday, “what were your best bits”.

Our man who knows more about toys than any I have met, John Morgan, has a coat which buttons up over a number of specialisms in addition to toys. One is militaria and he got very excited about a “dirty dozen watch” he sold for £12,000. So excited in fact that a special article is needed later in the month to tell its story. Sometimes, as John rightly says, it’s the vendor we fall in love with as much as the item they are selling. Like the professional aircraft engineer who in his spare time made the most amazing model engines we have ever sold. Lots like that just don’t come along very often.

A WWII Era Dirty Dozen Military Watch The Grana signed dial with Arabic numerals and second subsidiary dial in plain stainless steel case stamped W.W.W M18244 to case back to later expanding bracelet.

I have to say I love a good handbag and Janet Webster our ceramics, glass and vintage fashion specialist pointed me in the direction of one gorgeous bag we sold this year with a couple of suitcases. Louis Vuitton, with original receipts from Paris they sold for £3000. We sell quite a few wedding dresses and one this year had the newspaper cutting from “hatches, matches and dispatches” 1939 pinned to it. How wonderful.

To finish; I think everyone knows our furniture specialist Andrew Jameson. He has been studying the cabriole leg and carved knee since he was a boy. As Andrew explained furniture is in the doldrums a little, but quality will always win through. To this end he pointed me to a fabulous quality French kingwood vitrine which sold for £7000 in our last sale of the year.

What a wonderful way to sum up the year- “quality always wins through”

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Christmas

If I had my way, which in my overpoweringly female household I never do, I would erect our Christmas tree the day before Christmas Eve. This is not a humbug thing, it’s because I think it is the most romantic day of the whole festivities. Looking at the dressed tree is all well and good and we all marvel at its beauty but it is the very act of securing it, lighting it and placing the decorations on it that is Christmas.

I write these words in the hope that my family may read them, be converted and next year reschedule the ceremony. I fear my efforts are in vain however as in addition to not paying attention to any words of wisdom I ever offer, non of my family ever read anything I write.

So, I write this beside a fully decorated, fully lit Christmas tree and I must admit in a joyful spirit of Christmas. As I smell the glorious scent from the needles and bask in wonderful glow from the bulbs I realise that these words will appear in the last edition before Christmas. So what better time could there possibly be to wish every single person who casts their eyes over this missive a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

The year 2019 saw the Dowse dynasty increase by one leading to our Christmas spend reaching new and record heights. Likewise in the saleroom new and record heights were reached which saw us selling more Fine Art, more Antiques and more Collectables than ever.

Perhaps one or two of those collectables may turn up in one or two Christmas stockings. If they do and for some inexplicable reason you don’t like the gift, worry not, we can always sell it for you next year.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Men’s Jewellery

It seems a strange thing to divulge, but with all our grooming, care products and general pampering us men are becoming a little old fashioned. If we look back in time at the 17th and early 18th century male we find him pampering himself beyond belief.

Late 18th century men actually wore as much jewellery as women, but during the early 19th century, following the lead of the popular British dandy Beau Brummell, trends moved towards more simple clothing and minimal jewellery which was restricted to tie pins, cufflinks and rings.

The tie pin was a long decorative pin fastened to the necktie or cravat. The late 18th century examples are shorter than later ones with fairly simple designs, usually with paste or foil backed gemstones in closed settings. Later the Victorians enthusiasm for novelty was shown in tie pin designs with sporting and hunting motifs as well as patriotic and political emblems becoming popular.

Cufflinks were introduced in the early 19th century and were as popular amongst women as they were amongst men.The design trends generally followed those of the tiepins. The best quality cufflinks are thought to be those produced in the early 19th century, usually 15ct. or 18ct. gold with fine detailing. Later ones had their gold content reduced to 9ct. and were mass produced. In the late 19th century cufflinks were often sold in a sets with matching buttons and press studs.

The most popular rings worn by men were seal or signet rings, originally used for authenticating documents by impressing the seal in wax. Signet rings made before the late 19th century tended to be set with a semi-precious stone and carved with a Coat of Arms or monogram. After the late 19th century these rings became a much simpler 9ct. gold band engraved with a monogram and mass produced almost exclusively for the expanding middle class market.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Pot Lids

During breakfast recently my wife handed me her new jar of jam and asked me to open it. Nothing unusual in that it has been part of our married life for over forty years. What was so distressing was that for the first time in our long and glorious partnership I could not open the jar, eventually having to puncture the top with a fork to facilitate the manoeuvre.

I shall be writing to the manufacturer of my wife’s jam in the near future to protest at the new boundaries of tightness they have introduced, but in the meantime it has concentrated my mind on lids in general.

Before plastic and other packaging materials, toothpaste, creams, pastes etc. were sold in earthenware pots. Today the lids of these have become collector’s items. There are basically two kinds of pot lid, the black and white kind and the coloured kind. The black and white ones were first to be made because initially it was only possible to print a design in a single colour.

One of the most well-known pot makers was F & R Pratt. By the 1840s Pratt and a couple more potteries had managed to develop a technique for printing a design of more than one colour and were producing multi-coloured pot lids before the end of the decade.

Whilst initially pot lids carried information such as name of company, address and product, the coloured Pratt lids gradually became works of art in their own right.

Increasing production costs and competition from newly developed packaging materials meant coloured lids were forced out of production by the start of the 20th century. Because of the relative cheapness of the black and white lids they commanded a much larger market and therefore were around for quite a few years longer than their coloured counterparts.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

1930’s Carlton Ware

Carlton ware has for many years been one of the most popular English factories among collectors and furnishers and the 1930s to the 1960s is one of its most successful eras.

The Carlton Works was established in 1890 by James Frederick Wiltshaw and James Alcock Robinson. Based in Stoke-on-Trent, they became a highly successful and well-known manufacturer of earthenware and china. The company owed a lot of its success to their richly decorated lustre wares with Art Deco and Oriental influences but in the 1930s they branched out into something different with an emphasis on bold block colours and flower and leaf motifs.

The new designs used the floral and foliage themes either to help form the shape of the piece for example vases, bowls and trefoil dishes or as striking, embossed decoration on items such as teapots, jugs and toast racks. These new tableware ranges were hand-painted and continued in production until the 1960s. They are sometimes referred to as Salad Ware or either Floral or Fruit embossed Carlton Ware, but are easily recognizable by their eye-catching colours and bold decoration; particularly impressive when brought together as a group.

The colours used during this period were very bright and again held with the floral, natural themes including yellow, green and pink. Many different patterns were produced, particularly popular include Buttercup, Foxglove and Apple Blossom as well as Water lilies, Anemone and the Fruit Basket.

There were over fifty different patterns produced during the thirty years of production. Many patterns were made in more than one colour, like Buttercup, which is common in yellow but rare and desirable in pink. Some patterns, like Apple Blossom, had a huge range of items produced while others, like Daisy, were limited to just a handful of pieces.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Sulphide Paperweights

Paperweights have become a very collectable field and within that field are a multitude of different weights. Take for example the Sulphide weight.

A ‘Sulphide Paperweight’ refers to a paperweight which has a shaped “cameo” made from porcelain-like material encased within the clear glass. It involved cutting a hole in the hot glass sometimes through a bubble in blown glass, sliding in the insert which had been previously moulded, fired and left to cool and then resealing the glass or allowing the bubble to close by extracting the air through the blowpipe.

The technique of cameo incrustation or the encasement of porcelain medallions in glass was first developed in France in the early 19th century and it was used in America from 1814 and the United Kingdom from 1817. In 1819, English Glassmaker Apsley Pellatt (1791 – 1863) patented the technique, calling it “crystalo ceramie” in view of its French origins. The technique was not at first used in paperweights but was seen in glass plaques, pendants, vases and other decorative glass items before paperweight manufacturers realised the design appeal.

The three major paperweight manufacturers; Baccarat, Clichy and Saint Louis, all made sulphide paperweights. The value and appeal of these paperweights can depend on other factors besides the individual cameo, including the use of techniques such as detailed and elaborate faceting or engraving and the addition of millefiori (coloured glass rods shaped into patterns).

The objects cast inside the paperweights were most commonly people or animals sometimes both and the best with landscapes included. Many examples feature famous people or capture historical events with images sometimes cast off objects such as coins and medals. Generally, the more complex the design, the more desirable the paperweight as the process of moulding the objects was difficult and creating a single cast for one feature was the job of highly skilled craftsmen.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Teco

Encouraged by the reception of last weeks look at some American collectables, this week we have stayed over the ocean to look at another popular collectable, namely Teco Pottery.

The American Terra Cotta Tile and Ceramics Company, which came to be known as Teco Pottery was established c.1880 in Illinois by William Day Gates. Originally it was founded to simply make wall and floor tiles but Gates was actually much more ambitious than this and saw an opportunity to produce beautiful ceramics for ordinary people at affordable prices all through the cheap medium of terracotta. The production of Teco Art Pottery began in earnest in 1902.

The classic design of Teco pieces was architectural by nature, simple clean lines in strong shapes often with buttressed handles or feet. In line with the values of the Arts and Crafts movement, surface decoration was rejected in favour of strong form, although a small number of pieces can be found with some very simple impressed or embossed panel designs. The majority of pieces made were vases, although other items like bowls and pitchers were also produced as well as some wall mounted items like planters or ‘pockets’. All Teco pottery was moulded; even the most exotic and seemingly unique shapes that look hand-formed all came from moulds. The shape of a piece does affect price, with the taller vases in particular being the most desirable with collectors today.

Green was by far the most popular colour produced by Teco. This micro crystalline glaze had very distinctive green tones with an almost silvery quality which had taken the company many years to perfect. It is the silvery grey finish that clearly distinguished it from the Grueby green ware also popular at this time. Other colours including brown, yellow, rose, grey, purple and blue were introduced from 1910 onwards.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Loetz

The Loetz company was established in 1840 by Johann Loetz in the Czech Republic and after his heirs sold it on, it eventually came under the leadership of Max Ritter von Spaun in 1879 who guided it to international fame and recognition. During the 1880s and 1890s, Loetz iridescent glass designs typified the Art Nouveau style.

Often referred as ‘The Austrian Tiffany’, Loetz was actually just producing Tiffany- style glass made and marketed at much lower prices after realising there was a real market for it. Indeed some of their work was barely distinguishable from the real Tiffany available at the time. Tiffany patented their iridescent favrile glass designs in 1894 and Loetz was not far behind obtaining patents for their iridescent glass with a ‘metallic shimmer’ in 1895 and 1896.

Loetz, however, didn’t want to be merely remembered or acknowledged for making excellent copies of others’ work and set about creating its own designs of which their most famous and highly-acclaimed series, Phanomen, was to be born. Phanomen pieces are characterised by their trailed combed threads or bands, often referred to as rippled or featherlike and their metallic iridescence. This clever design, where by hot glass threads were wrapped around the hot molten base and then pulled onto the object’s surface to achieve this wave effect while the glass was still malleable, was patented in 1898.

Other key characteristics of Loetz design include blue colour iridescence as well as what is often described as a gleaming oil-on-water effect and many of their motifs follow stylized Art Nouveau examples such as plants, feathers and nature in general.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Mount Washington Glass

Recently a stone chip on my car windscreen, which over the months I had grown to love, broke free and cracked my whole screen. Chatting to the technician who fitted my new windscreen I found he had a passion for glass collecting. When I explained the irony of this his eyes rolled and I gathered I was not the first. His favourite glass was Mount Washington.

Mount Washington was established by William Libbey in 1837 and after moving to New Bedford in 1870 began to produce American art glass for which it was hugely successful. It made some remarkable ranges and patented many types of glass.

One such glass was Burmese glass, with a satin or plush finish. This finish was created by exposing the glass to acid and it is unique in its creamy yellow and peach colourings. The peach colouring comes from a second firing when the base of the piece stays cooler and areas at the top are heated to such an extent that the peach colour reverts back to yellow giving a distinctive two-tone effect.

The creation and recipe of Burmese glass was patented by Mount Washington in 1885 and early pieces are usually very simple. Over 300 hundred shapes were created in the Burmese range and by 1888 the shapes and decoration had become more elaborate. Decoration usually consisted of enamelled or applied patterns.

In 1886 the company patented a very simple glass called ‘Peachblow’, sometimes referred to as Peachskin, which again had an attractive two-tone effect this time in pinks and greys. Unfortunately it never had the commercial success of the Burmese range and was only produced for two years, ironically making it is very collectable today.

Art glass of all types is very popular in the salerooms today and Mount Washington ranges should be on everyone’s shopping list.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Swansea Porcelain

William Billingsley was a name to conjure with in the porcelain world in the late 18th and early 19th century. He flittered around from one factory to another and even tried to start a few of his own, never being very successful. His claim to fame however is his recipe for soft paste porcelain. This produced some of the finest quality porcelain of the 19th century, particularly at Swansea, a factory he was associated with between 1814 and 1817.

Swansea pieces were made from Billingsley’s highly translucent soft-paste porcelain that was unfortunately extremely delicate and subject to high losses in the firing process. The challenge was to strengthen the mixture used to produce the porcelain without reducing the pure whiteness and translucency. There have been three general mixtures identified, all which suffered some issues in the kiln. The first was very similar to the recipe for Bone China but mixed with Blue Clay or Lime, giving it a slight green tinge and the name ‘Duck Egg’, the second following a very similar recipe but with a hand fritted body is described as ‘Glassy’. The third recipe, and probably the most robust of the three, included a higher soapstone content giving a translucency with a yellowish colour, it is referred to as ‘Trident’ largely due to the impressed mark that most Trident pieces carry.

Swansea porcelain was renowned for its elegant and high quality painting, regularly receiving commissions from members of the aristocracy. Many of the designs were inspired from the fashionable French style with flowers being a particular favourite often with gilt detail and borders. Painters such as David Evans, Thomas Pardoe and William Pollard were employed specifically for their excellence in flower designs.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website