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

Tennis Memorabilia

Every summer as the Wimbledon Tennis Championship rolls it’s tennis balls onto our television screens once again I feel a certain nostalgia for our old family sitting room and the sight of my mother groaning, cheering and jumping up and down to her darling of the centre court Virginia Wade. 1977 was an especially good year for me as not only did it see me marry my childhood sweetheart but it also saw my mothers efforts to help Virginia on her way to victory finally vindicated as she was crowned Queen of the centre court.

Tennis despite being a relatively young game, invented in 1874 by Major Walter Wingfield, has many avid memorabilia collectors and early rackets are very sought after. From the mid 1870s and the 1930s the shape of the tennis racket changed enormously, so early examples with their asymmetrical heads can be very valuable regardless of any association with a known player. Those however associated with legendary players like Fred Perry are a true collectors dream and can attract thousands of pounds at auction.

Presentation trophies too are collectable though novelty items which reflect the popularity of the early game are also of interest. Teapots, clocks and particularly jewellery were produced, a wide range of which featured racket and ball motifs.

Wimbledon specific memorabilia is always collectable. Programmes from the 1930s and earlier are now very rare and a must for collectors. A particularly popular programme would be from the first Championship held at the present site in Church Road in 1922. Programmes before this when the club was located in Worple Road, also in Wimbledon, are extremely sought after, especially from the First Championship held in 1877, when would you believe, only 160 people attended.

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

Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre

Susannah Margaretta ‘Daisy’ Makeig-Jones was the designer responsible for Wedgwood’s hugely successful Fairyland range which was produced from the 1920s until Makeig-Jones left the company in 1931.

Makeig-Jones, nicknamed Daisy was first taken on at Wedgwood as an apprentice in 1909 before becoming a designer in 1912. She grew up in rural Yorkshire and her childhood filled with stories of myths and legends is believed to have inspired many of her designs alongside the work of children’s illustrators like Edmund Dulac and Kay Nielson. Her rich colours and gold decoration is representative of old oriental porcelain.

The designs contained beautiful landscapes with mythical creatures such as goblins, ghosts, fairies and elves and were a huge contrast to the more traditional Wedgwood styles of the time but still achieved huge commercial success. Many people believe that the designs appealed to the public’s desire to remember a more innocent age following the horrors of the First World War.

The value of Fairyland Lustre depends largely on the condition of the pieces but earlier examples are more sought after as Daisy Makeig-Jones decorated these herself, before she took on a more supervisory role.

The patterns are characterised by rich gold lustre a technique that used a mixture of metallic oxide pigments suspended in oil and painted onto the surface of earthenware. When the pieces were fired the metal reduced and formed a thin shiny, reflective film with gave an iridescent effect. The technique meant that Fairyland Lustre was very costly to produce and therefore expensive to buy but that didn’t affect its popularity with collectors either at the time or today.

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

Keith Murray

Individual designers were always important and often vital to the continued success of a porcelain factory. This was the case with Keith Murray and the Wedgwood factory.

Wedgwood approached Keith Murray in 1932 offering him a position as a designer in their company. Born in Auckland in 1892, he had emigrated to England in the early 1900s with his parents. He was trained as an architect, which gave him an excellent eye for design and form, and had been working for Powell & Sons’ Whitefriars Glassworks and then the British Glassmakers Stevens & Williams before Wedgwood eagerly took him on board. His first range for Wedgwood came out in 1933 and he designed for them with huge success during the 1930s and 40s. Although few of his pieces were produced in the 1950s and 60s, he remained a consultant for Wedgwood until 1969.

Murray’s designs are now iconic and to many he is considered one of the pioneers of the Art Deco style. He produced designs that were very simple; they were bold, modernist pieces produced with clean lines where form was integral to decoration, clearly drawing from his architectural training and his belief that good design should show common sense. A large number of designs included the ribbing or fluting effects which became a signature style of his.

Murray designed pieces primarily in green, moonstone (white), straw yellow and blue. Blue is a particularly desirable colour, although this colour was often glazed unevenly so good, even examples realise the highest prices but black basalt is by far the rarest and most sought after colour he worked with. He worked with three glazes; matt, semi-matt and celadon satin and almost all of his work was marked with a backstamp; there is both a ‘KM’ mark and a signature mark used.

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

Clarice Cliff

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

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

Distler Toys

The German company, Distler is best known for producing small and affordable tinplate toys. Established c.1895 in Nuremberg by Johann Distler, it first produced Penny Toys. Penny Toys were tiny toys measuring no longer than five inches, made very cheaply from pressed tin. They were extremely popular around the turn of the century and their success allowed companies like Distler to expand into larger tinplate toys.

In the 1920s and 30s, Distler greatly expanded both in terms of workforce and products, making some excellent cars and beginning to expand into clockwork mechanisms. Tinplate toys with moving parts are particularly popular with collectors and Distler made some very good battery operated examples. The 1956 “Elektro Matic 7500 FS” Porsche is probably their finest with an ignition key, forward and reverse gears and remote control with spiral wire. The Porsche is now highly sought after with examples in rare colours and mint-boxed conditions attracting the most interest.

In 1928, Mickey Mouse made his first appearance on our screens and his success was a huge boost to companies like Distler, who were one of the first manufacturers to get a license to produce Disney toys. Many early Disney toys were actually designed from memory, after seeing the films, so do contain some inconsistencies from the original characters. Disney toys are a huge collecting field in their own right and toys complete with boxes confirming that they were made with permission of Walt Disney, like the Distler toys, hold higher values and appeal.

By the 1960s, Distler could no longer keep up with competition from the more inexpensive toys and production stopped in 1962.

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

Baxter Prints

The process involved a steel key plate and a number of wooden and metal colour blocks. The image was first engraved onto the key plate which was laid onto the paper to leave a monochrome image; blocks were then produced with the same image each representing a different colour. Each individual block was inked and added to the paper in a prescribed order. Baxter was a perfectionist taking time to ensure each colour was dry between pressings, resulting in only two colours being applied each day.

Baxter’s most detailed and complex scenes are the most sought after and valuable today. The scene of ‘Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria receiving the Sacrament at her Coronation’ showing the Queen kneeling at the altar before the Archbishop of Canterbury, which he was invited to capture by Prince Albert himself, is one of Baxter’s most famous and contained over two hundred recognisable faces. The full coloured version took him years to complete and wasn’t published until 1841, three years after the coronation.

Originally Baxter’s prints were used for frontispieces in books but quickly a market for his prints in their own right developed. Between 1835 and 1860 he produced approximately 400 different prints but his attention to detail made him slow, he regularly missed deadlines including those of International Exhibitions and this combined with his lack of business expertise lead to bankruptcy by 1865.

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

Comics

Maturity and the cold weather have finally convinced me to buy a warm winter coat. Saying goodbye to my fashion leading, quilted jacket, which had the warmth of a thin bed sheet, I have purchased what is essentially a high tog green duvet, with a zip. If I am honest it doesn’t have the same cutting edge appeal as my quilted fashion icon, but my goodness it’s warm.

A great deal of my working life takes place inside cold, sometimes inhospitable, properties and the garages, cellars, attics and sheds of those homes. With my new green duvet they have suddenly become centrally heated paradises and I can once again enjoy the hunt for the unexpected.Recently in the cellar of a small terraced property in Barnsley I found an enormous collection of Marvel comics and every single one was ruined by water from a cellar flood.

From the late 1950s onwards Stan Lee and Marvel comics were responsible for some amazing comic book super heroes including the Incredible Hulk, the Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four and many more. By the 1970s comic book collecting was a fully established collecting area.

As with many collectables condition is by far the most important factor in assessing value. The most desirable comics are the ones in mint condition, but these are very difficult to find, particularly with early examples as they were printed on low grade paper.

First issues are always sought after, as are editions featuring the first appearance or death of a character. If you have a run from a first edition to a new hero and they are all in mint condition that would be just lovely.

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

Beswick Animals

Having recently changed my car from a two seater “sports” model to a five seater estate, I am finding it a mixed blessing. While being much more value on a run to the tip or a visit to the DIY store, it also means it will accommodate more grandchildren. I am not saying this is a bad thing, but it has made driving a less peaceful pastime.

This was the case last weekend, when fully loaded with some of the said grandchildren we set out on the road to Chester zoo. At the zoo, in addition to the animals we also met more grandchildren. I have to say the zoo is amazing. We are not regular zoo attendees, but I think that may change in the future.

Strangely the whole experience made me think of the Beswick factory, the wonderful variety and quality of their animal production and that wonderful man Arthur Gredington who was chief modeller from 1939 to 1957. Thanks to him there is a huge selection of animals to choose from.

Horses, cows and bulls are the most popular, especially the larger more impressive variations. Because of the immense variety collectors tend to concentrate on one particular animal. Some models were only made for a short time and therefore more desirable today, for example the Galloway Bull which was only made from 1963 to 1969. He is available in three versions, with the all black being the rarest and so most prized.

Beswick was eventually sold to Royal Doulton in 1969, but animals marked “Beswick” continued to be made until 1989. They are without doubt a very exciting collectors field.

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