Edwin and Mary Scheier

This week for a change we find ourselves in America and with a charming and exciting married couple who created a name for themselves in the ceramic world from the 1940s onwards.

Edwin and Mary Scheier were ceramicists and they met and married in Virginia in 1937, forming a very successful partnership both personally and professionally. Both were artists in their own right; Mary having studied at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts as well as the Grand Central School of Art in Paris and Edwin having been a student of the New York School of Industrial Arts. However it was their ceramics that would eventually win them national acclaim and invitations to teach at the University of New Hampshire and this was essentially self-taught.

They were both talented and experimental and challenged boundaries and ideas within the art world, embracing the Modern Art movement of the mid-20th century, even digging up their own red clay for some of their pieces. Their partnership in ceramics saw Mary’s talent for wheel-thrown pots and Edwin’s flair for glazes and unusual design combine perfectly to produce outstanding results working both independently and collaboratively.

Mary became known for her elegant and thin-walled vessels, usually smaller pottery and often functional ware, while Edwin was known for the larger, sculptural and more experimental pieces. He was constantly trialling different glazes most noticeably in soft shades such as pinks, blues, greens and purples and the images were often simple incised, line drawings.

The themes of their work were largely based around primitive and biblical imagery. They were exploring human behaviour from Adam and Eve, birth, temptation to protection, motherhood and coupling with some of the designs showing people within people, womb-like or within animals.

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

Half Dolls

Three of our children are girls and four of our grandchildren are girls so over the years I have had many relationships with many dolls, but they have always been full dolls, never half dolls.

Half dolls were essentially that, half a doll. They typically stood waist high with head and arms and were used as a decorative item. The upper bodies were usually attached to cloth skirts that were either stuffed to be used as a pincushion or used to cover household items such as teapots or powder boxes. Some later versions had separate legs which were attached to a base under the fabric skirt.

There is reference made to these pincushion dolls in the mid-18th century, however, it wasn’t until later in the 19th century and early 20th century that the half dolls were in popular demand and it was short lived as by the 1940s production had dwindled and eventually ceased altogether.

The majority of half dolls were made from porcelain or bisque but examples made from wood and wax can also be found. Key factories include Dressel & Kister, Goebel and Heubach. Some designs were very simple, while others were highly stylized, particularly the later 1920s and 30s examples when the half dolls were extremely popular and followed the clothing and hair fashions of the period. Some half dolls were even left completely naked and bald and clothes and wigs were fitted later.

The value of the half doll is principally in the form of the doll. If it is made all in one mould, with arms tucked close into the main body then these tend to hold the least value. More desirable examples will have gaps between the arms and bodies showing several moulds were used with the best having outstretched arms or even added accessories like handheld flowers. Large examples and those still retaining original skirts are also desirable to collectors.

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

Hats

What is a Zucchetto, or for that matter what is a Ushanka? The first is a skull cap worn by clerics, the second is a fur hat with fold down ear flaps. The world of the hat is a bigger and far more exciting one than you may think.

In a tomb in Thebes in Egypt was found the earliest painting of a hat, showing a man wearing a conical straw hat, around 3200 BC. Hats have been around forever. For the ladies there are the Picture, Halo, Cartwheel, Mushroom, Cloche and Pill Box hats to name just a few. For the gentlemen there are the Baseball, Bicorne, Deerstalker, Fez, Bowler and Panama just to scratch the surface. Perhaps we should start having specialist hat auctions.

Talking of hats, one character I would love to have met is Michael Moore. Michael sounds to me to have been a lovely man, generous to a fault and loved by all who knew him. Michael was a Sheffielder who made hats for shows, mostly musical shows and his first venture into show hat making was in 1968 when he made the ‘Siamese’ hats for a production of the King and I, by what is now the Southey Musical Theatre Company.

From 1968 until the day he died Michael made hats for hundreds of shows and thousands of people. He also formed the Dance Workshop with his partner Tony Gibson and again was responsible for all the hats and costumes.

This weekend, thanks to instructions from Michael’s executors, among our lots on offer are the remains of his hats and hat making materials. A very interesting section.

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

The Canterbury

The Canterbury is a very useful piece of furniture and examples from the 18th and 19th centuries should find their way into more modern homes. What exactly is a Canterbury?

In the most basic terms, the Canterbury is a low, opened top piece of furniture with partitions or slats for storing sheet music, often made with additional storage in the bottom in the form of a drawer; in modern terms, a magazine rack. The Canterbury was made with short legs that stood on castors, making it easy to move around.

It is largely acknowledged that the name originated from the Archbishop of Canterbury who first commissioned one in the 1780s. The Archbishop in question, Frederick Cornwallis serving from 1768 to 1783, had aristocratic associations and thus likely connections with prominent cabinet-makers of the time before his appointment to Archbishop adding weight to the theory that the name came from him.

Thomas Sheraton (1751-1806), an English cabinet-maker who is credited as having a significant influence over furniture design of the late 18th century, appears to be the first to use the name Canterbury in his 1803 book ‘The Cabinet Dictionary’. Other key examples of Canterbury designs are included in George Smith’s ‘A Collection of Designs for Household Furniture and Interior Decoration’ from 1808 and John Claudius Loudon’s ‘The Encyclopaedia of Cottage, Farm, Villa Architecture’ in 1834. The Canterbury began life as a simple, functional piece of furniture but grew more elaborate with time and remained popular throughout the Victorian and Edwardian periods.

It is also important to note that during this period, sheet music was made more widely available due to the new printing processes making it more affordable and so the design of such a piece of furniture seems inevitable, to sit by the piano.

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

Mauchlineware

This summer, as part of our summer break my wife and I plan to travel the highways and byways of Scotland, with the top of my extended mid-life crisis sports car tucked away in the boot and our hair (well at least my wife’s) blowing in the wind. One of the towns I am keen to visit on this exciting drive through Scottish history is Mauchline.

Mauchline is a town in East Ayrshire in Scotland which became famous in the 1800s for the production of box-ware, now commonly referred to as Mauchlineware. Mauchlineware was souvenir ware made from sycamore trees. This Scottish souvenir wood ware was exported all over the world from Europe to Australia and America.

The success really came from the trend in the late 18th century for snuff-taking. Snuff boxes had been gold and silver, tortoiseshell and papier-mâché but the wooden ones failed to keep the tobacco fresh. This was all to change when James Sandy perfected the integral wooden hinge making wooden snuff boxes airtight and so began a new industry in handmade wooden boxes.

All manner of small and later large items were made in Mauchlineware from cigar cases, bookmarks and pin cushions to vases, jewellery boxes and other household objects. An incredible range of boxes including the aforementioned snuff boxes were produced in every shape and size one could wish for.

Designs were transfer printed and then varnished; some receiving up to 26 layers of varnish and the pictures transferred were popular landscape scenes, famous landmarks and attractions from across the world. Mauchlineware was specifically aimed at the tourist market, both domestic now the British people were travelling further by rail, but also with the export market in mind.

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

Ditchfield Glass

In all the years I have been writing one of the men I have never ever spoken of is John Ditchfield. Why ever not, I ask myself. Last week in one of our many stores housing goods catalogued and awaiting their chance to star in one of our auctions I happened upon a small but gorgeous collection of glass by this very man.

Over thirty years ago this very talented gentleman established his own company “Glasform” in deepest darkest Lancashire. One could have been forgiven for thinking this was just another man blowing a bit of molten glass into a few shapes to sell to the unsuspecting public purchaser, from a shop in a county somewhere in England, but one would be so wrong.

What sets all contemporary production, art or otherwise, above the rest is quality, style, originality, inventiveness, and collectability and Glasform has this in, what we in the world of the antique call, bucketloads. Whether endorsements by David Dickinson, Eric Knowles and Laurence Llewelyn Bowen are good for a glassblower I dare not comment, but Glasform has had hearty accolades from all three along with many others from the world of the rich and famous.

From the age of sixteen John Ditchfield spent seven years learning the art of glassblowing from Franco Toffolo in his Venetian glass factory in Blackpool. After a short career change John came back to manage the factory. He studied Tiffany glass and toured Europe in pursuit of excellence and invention in his art. All this helped him in his subsequent Glasform productions of beautiful, iridescent art glass from Lancashire and our next auction is a chance to start your collection.

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

Spode

Spode was established in 1776 in Stoke-on-Trent by Josiah Spode who wanted to set up on his own after years of working for other ceramic manufacturers. Spode is generally acknowledged as developing the first recipe for bone china. Experiments were taking place in the Spode factory from around 1796 to create fine white porcelain with a recipe containing high quantities of calcined ox-bone alongside china clay and stone; originally known as ‘Stoke China’ it was later renamed ‘Bone China’.

Josiah died suddenly in 1797 and his son, Josiah II continued his work, establishing the factory as the largest and one of the best porcelain manufacturers of the early 19th century ‘Golden Age’ of British ceramics. This included being appointed ‘Potter to the Prince of Wales’ in 1806.

As well as being recognized as creating the original bone china recipe, Spode is also highly acclaimed for the part they played in the development of transfer printing in its early days. Josiah II perfected the process of transfer printing onto earthenware, producing some of the finest blue-and-white designs ever made. Their most famous pattern is probably ‘Italian’, also known as ‘Blue Italian’ or ‘Spode’s Italian’.

The Italian pattern was first introduced in 1816 and is still produced today; it is believed to have appeared on as many as 700 different shapes across the Spode range. The origins of the classical scenes of the pattern are, unfortunately for collectors, unknown. Although many of Spode’s designs can be sourced back to pictorial scenes or prints of the time, the origins of the Italian pattern remain a mystery and despite research by many interested parties, no single Italian scene has ever been found that encompasses all the features of the pattern.

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