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

Chintzware

Because of the name’s similarity to the Brothers Grimm, Grimwades Ltd. always makes me think of children’s fairytales, but it is in fact the trade name for Royal Winton, which was based at the Winton Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent and was established in 1885.

The company manufactured a diverse range of tableware and decorative designs in moulded earthenware, including lamp bases, candlesticks and dressing table sets. However it was their Chintzware range of the 1930’s that caught the imagination of the collector and that is what Royal Winton is renowned for today. The pretty, affordable tableware was decorated with all-over floral patterns and produced in large quantities. Chintzware is desirable worldwide with breakfast sets and stacking tea sets being particularly popular with collectors.

There were a multitude of different designs within the Chintzware range, but “Hazel”, “Julia” and “Sweet Pea” are among the most collectable with teapots, biscuit barrels and hot water jugs being popular shapes. Restoration is unacceptable in Chintzware so it is vital to check for damage, cracks and fading as this significantly affects the price. The base of Royal Winton features an impressed mark (for shape), the company mark and a transfer printed mark of the pattern.

The “Sweet Pea” pattern, introduced in 1936, is highly sought after today. It was designed with a pale yellow or chrome tallow ground and a gold or deep blue trim enclosing pink and blue flowers. The flowers are particularly prone to fading and can appear greyish in colour.

Always remember that the value of Chintzware lies in the crisp, clear pattern, the irregular shapes and most importantly the condition.

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

Burleigh Ware Jugs

I have noticed lately that in many ‘trendy’ coffee shops these days there are very few handles on the milk jugs. Being brought up on handled jugs and had the importance of the correct use of a handle drilled into me from a toddler, I find this trend rather disconcerting. Also, as an auctioneer and valuer there is nothing I love more than a good handle. Take Burleigh Ware handles for example.

The period of the 1930s and onwards is generally considered to be the golden era for Burleigh Ware. During this time the factory employed over 500 people and among them were some of the most highly skilled potters and artists available.

During this highly productive era Burleigh Ware expanded into the very recognisable brightly coloured tableware, which sold in vast quantities. Probably some of the best known of these pieces were the bright yellow jugs with sculptural handles in the form of animals and humans. The jugs were all hand painted so each one was slightly different, with the most attractive being the most sought after.

Designers Charles Wilkes and Ernest Bailey are credited with much of the design work on these iconic jugs. They made a huge variety of animals from parrots and kingfishers to butterflies and squirrels and even dragons.

All these jugs can be purchased for very reasonable sums at auction these days, with the animals being particularly affordable. The human characters tend to be more sought after with examples such as the rare guardsman and the sporting designs of the golfer and cricketer being particularly popular.

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

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

Chelsea Porcelain

The Chelsea Factory was established sometime between 1743 and 1745 by Nicholas Sprimont. Sprimont’s background as a silversmith is evident in many of the Chelsea designs, particularly the early pieces. He ran a hugely successful and innovative company until 1769 when he sold to William Duesbury of the Derby Porcelain factory who maintained Chelsea until 1784, producing what is commonly referred to as Chelsea-Derby ware. In 1784, the Chelsea workshops were demolished with the majority of the moulds destroyed and a few removed to Derby along with some of the workers.

Chelsea Porcelain is very clearly divided into four periods defined by the marks used. The first period; the triangle period (1745-49) saw pieces marked with an incised triangle. Wares from this period have a glassy white body due to a proportion of crushed lead glass in the soft paste that can appear to have ‘pinholes’ in it when held to the light. Designs tended to be based on silver work with particular Rococo influence.

By the raised anchor period (1749-52) marked with an applied anchor on a small oval medallion, there had been some improvement in the quality of the glaze with less translucency. Many designs had a Meissen influence and scenes from Aesop’s Fables were popular. A small red or occasionally brown anchor defined the Red anchor period (1752-56) which saw fashions favour decorative tableware with designs such as fruit, animals and vegetables becoming popular. Figures from this period are particularly notable; the best produced by Flemish modeller Josef Willems. Finally the Gold anchor period (1757-69) where the small anchor was now painted gold saw an increased use of gilding and coloured grounds, the return to Rococo designs and many more elaborate figures produced.

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

Breakfast Wares

My father always ate Cornflakes for breakfast. As a young boy I always looked on this as a sign of manhood and vowed to grow up a strong, Cornflake eating man. Sleeping over at a friends one night I remember appearing at the breakfast table to discover his father eating Rice Krispies. He was never the same man in my eyes after that and my friendship with his son soon waned.

In 1894 Dr John Kellogg, who ran a sanatorium, by accident created the corn flake as he attempted to improve the diet of his patients. A patent was applied for that same year and the flakes of corn became so popular that Dr John’s brother Will Keith Kellogg set up the Kellogg Company to produce Corn Flakes and sell to the general public.

In 1906 Will and John fell out over sugar which Will wanted to put in the Cornflakes. Sadly, this led to a life time rift and the success of the company was left to Will Kellogg.

The Cornflake craze didn’t happen overnight, but by the 1930s a change in breakfasting habits was definitely happening. The great British public now required new ceramics to enjoy the first meal of a new day. Cereal bowls, toast racks, teapots and for the lucky ones, all on a tray to be served in bed.

These breakfast wares are popular collectors items today. Look for investable designers like Clarice Cliff and Susie Cooper and the rarer the pattern, the more exciting the purchase.

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 and Wedgwood

As a boy my love for the auction room and the pull of the family business was never in doubt. If I had a fallback position, however, it would have been racing driver or architect.

Keith Murray was an architect. He was born in New Zealand. His father was Scottish and had travelled to New Zealand to meet his mother Lillian. The family came to England when Keith was 14 and seven years later he graduated from the London School of Architecture.

Originally work was slow, so Murray began illustrating for magazines. In the early 1930s he designed for Stevens and Williams and his designs were noticed by Wedgwood. Wedgwood were at that time recruiting designers to inspire their production and revitalise their flagging turnover.

In the 1930s Keith Murray designed for Wedgwood for two or three months a year. His designs, although slow to get started, were a triumph. This was largely due to the excellent combination of Murray’s sleek styles and the matt glazes developed by Norman Wilson, Wedgwood’s works manager at the time. The range of vases and bowls were hand thrown and featured incised horizontal fluting or banding. They were glazed in plain matt colours including, the most popular, blues and greens.

Other popular Murray items include the bronze coloured tobacco jar and the rare black basalt coffee set. Collectors just love the undecorated, simple shape Murray is famous for and they fit so well with today’s minimalist styles.

Sadly for the world of ceramics, after World War Two Keith Murray went back to his architecture.

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

Belleek

My wife was born in Ireland, what other reason do I need to love the wonderful porcelain that came from the Belleek factory.

The Belleek porcelain factory in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland was established in the village of Belleek in the late 1850s by three men. John Caldwell Bloomfield, to whom the land had been left, and two businessmen Robert William Armstrong, an architect from London with an interest in ceramics, and a trader from Dublin, David McBirney. As well as local workers and apprentices the partners hired fourteen experienced men from Stroke-on-Trent.

The partners always wanted to make fine porcelain, but the early pieces to come out of the factory were items such as floor tiles and tableware. However, following a few failed attempts they succeeded in making a certain amount of parian by 1863. Belleek is popular for it’s parian wares. They did not decorate the pieces with transfer printing or painting but instead used lustre glazes to enhance the cream colour of the porcelain itself. The intricate baskets produced by the factory are some of the most popular items with collectors.

By 1865 the company already had a growing market in Ireland and England and was beginning to export items further afield to the United States and elsewhere. Queen Victoria was even a customer. The company exhibited in parian porcelain at the Dublin Exposition of 1872. Items displayed included statues, busts and centrepieces.

Although the factory is still in operation today, it is still the early pieces that collectors crave.

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

Goldscheider Figurines

Last weekend’s sunny Sunday found me lying on my deck chair, my eyes closed and listening to the soothing sounds of birds singing and bees buzzing, along with the gentle ‘clip, clip’ of my wife’s hedge cutting endeavours. My thoughts turned, as they so often do in similar settings, to Goldscheider figures.

The Goldscheider Porcelain Manufacturer and Majolica Factory was founded in Vienna in 1885 by Freidrich Goldscheider. It quickly earned itself international acclaim becoming one of the leading ceramics companies in Europe opening branches in Paris, Florence, Leipzig and Berlin. Freidrich worked with his sons Walter and Marcell who would later move to America and England respectively to continue expanding the business after Hilter’s regime forced the family to flee Austria in 1938.

The Goldscheider factories are probably the most well known of the potteries who made the beautiful Art Deco figurines that were so popular in the 1920s and 30s. The figurines depicted elegant, slim-lined and fashionable ladies typically displayed in movement, whether it was mid-dance, an acrobatic stance or simply a sweeping gesture, with dramatic curves that allowed their flowing dresses and sleeves to produce eye-catching, decorative features for the pieces.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

The large flat areas of the extended dresses, scarves or sleeves were decorated with intricate, colourful designs that contrasted with the light, porcelain-like skin tones of the women. A high quality of detail and skill in the artwork as well as a characterful and appealing face all add value to these figurines. Erotic subjects are particularly popular. Damage or poor restoration can dramatically reduce desirability and thus value.

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

Victorian Jugs

It is extraordinarily rare for me to make a prediction and I have to say in doing so I am often wrong, but I predict the interest in Victorian moulded jugs is about to soar. It is an absolutely wonderful field of collecting.

A few years before Victoria came to the throne moulded jugs had developed into an art form. Almost every potter of the time began producing them and on the whole all followed each other as the moulded jug developed and changed throughout the century.

The jugs of the 1830s were moulded in a crisp and deep relief. Apart from a few angular exceptions the body was generally round. In terms of decoration, this was a period when designs and inspirations seemed limitless. Hunting scenes were popular, as were religious, mythological, historical and even drinking themes. But inspiration was also found in books, poems and art. In fact almost every aspect of Victorian life.

By the latter part of the 1840s the earlier distinctive pedestal foot had become a foot rim and the lip was a little less flared. The body was still essentially round and the relief had become more shallow. The new trend in design was naturalistic plant life, with some jugs being completely covered, examples being the Cob of Corn jug and the Pine Cone jug.

By the 1860s the relief was very shallow and the naturalistic designs were replaced with stylised flowers and foliage. By the time, towards the end of the century, that the Art Nouveau style had arrived the moulded jug had largely had its day.

Made usually in earthenware, stoneware or Parian the moulded jug makes a lovely addition to any home.

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