Holmegaard Glass

The Holmegaard Glassworks, over the years, has produced some very collectable pieces of beautiful and inventive glass. It was established in 1825 in Denmark by Countess Henriette Danneskiold-Samsøe. Her husband Count Christian had initially sought permission from the King in 1823 to set up the Glassworks but unfortunately died before the decision to allow such a venture was granted. What a courageous woman the Countess was to carry on regardless.

Originally the Glassworks only produced green bottles but production quickly thrived and advanced and by the 1830s they were making clear and pressed glass bottles as well as tableware. Much of the Holmegaard’s early work is of little note, but the factory became a shining star in the 20th century. This transformation has much to do with the designers employed by the Glassworks including Jacob E Bang in the 1920s and later his son, Michael (how could he fail with such a name) in the 1980s as well as the great Per Lütken who was considered a pioneer designer and huge asset to Holmegaard Glass.

Per Lütken was a perfectionist and well known for making high demands on his glass blowers, never settling for second best. He began working for the company in 1941 and the quality of his designs became a benchmark for Holmegaard, securing their position as a leading Glassworks.

His early work in the 1940s and 50s focused on organic forms sometimes referred to as the plasticity of glass. The vases took inspiration from shapes like teardrops and flower buds and the majority of pieces were made in subtle colours like grey and pale blue known as smoke and aqua.

Later in the 1960s and 70s, he favoured the more robust, geometric designs, famously introducing the thicker, outward rims in his glasses in ranges such as No. 5 from 1970 and Ship’s Glass from 1971. Per Lütken worked for Holmegaard until his death in 1998. Many of these designs can be purchased in the saleroom today for under one hundred pounds.

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

Meigh Pottery

Collectors are some of the most interesting people to talk to, partly because they love their subject and partly because they love talking. Some of the most interesting collectors are those with a very narrow field and a very deep knowledge. Recently I ran into a fascinating fellow who collected nothing but Meigh pottery jugs.

Meigh Pottery was run successfully by Charles Meigh from 1834 when he took over from his father, Job. Job Meigh worked out of Old Hall Pottery, Hanley, Staffordshire from 1805 producing high quality stoneware and earthenware. Charles continued this business.

The most popular and well known of Charles’ work were the white stoneware jugs with relief decoration. The decoration was primarily Gothic Revival motifs. The designs were actually formed as part of the mould before the pieces were cast. The ‘Minister’ jug was one of the key designs of the time sometimes referred to as ‘Minister Jug’ or ‘York Minister’ although the religious design has no known association with York Minister. Religious scenes in general were common in Meigh’s work as were scenes of sporting events and drinking activities. Larger examples are always more sought after by collectors realising higher prices.

Charles Meigh was greatly admired for the high quality of his designs and intricate moulded work with his factories acknowledged for casting crisp three-dimensional designs that few could rival at the time. Meigh exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and went on to win a medal in 1886.

Charles Meigh traded under many names from starting out in 1834 to the closure of the factory in 1902 and the marks used change accordingly. Up until 1849 there were various marks used but all incorporated his name or initials, when he entered into partnership in 1850 changing the company name to ‘Charles Meigh, Son & Pankhurst’ these initials, CMS & P, were included on the marks, later losing the ‘P’ in 1851 when he traded under simply ‘Charles Meigh & Son’. In 1861 the name changed again to ‘Old Hall Eartheware Co Ltd.’ and finally ‘Old Hall Porcelain Works Ltd.’ in 1886 until closure in 1902.

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

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

Craigievar Castle

Being descended upon by a high plural of grandchildren and a number of their parents for a prolonged stay has prompted my wife and I to flee for a “summer” holiday in the rain soaked highlands of a once sunny Scotland. I am sure the sun has shone in these highlands before and I am certain it will again, but for the duration of our stay here the forecast isn’t even hinting on the likelihood of that happening.

We came here over thirty years ago when our children were the same size (but perhaps not as boisterous) as our grandchildren and we loved it. This year, through the clouds, the winds and the rain, we love it still. It is such a beautiful place.

Scotland is famous for many things and yesterday we visited an example of one of those things. A charming 16th century castle. Built at the very end of the 16th century Craigievar Castle was originally owned by the Mortimer family as they took a step up the social ladder and became barons of Craigievar. It was however the Forbes family who took on the tenure for most of it’s years. From 1610 until 1963 to be exact and what is even more exciting is that the three daughters of the last family to live there, who are all in their seventies, still visit to ensure everything is still left as it was under their occupancy.

Queen Victoria was known to visit Craigievar Castle (and given exclusive use of the indoor toilet) but to me the most amazing thing about this Castle is the originality of the furniture and effects dating right back to the early 17th century when the Forbes took control. That is what we call in the saleroom a good provenance.

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