Eric Ravilious

I adore Christmas and New Year beyond measure, but I also adore getting back to work. I love the anticipation and excitement, wondering what I will see next, who I will meet next, what stories will there be to tell of 2020. In 2019 we sold a commemorative mug for the Coronation of King George VI in 1937. Coronation mugs usually make just a few pounds if we are lucky, but this one made £650. Why? Because it was designed for Wedgwood by Eric Ravilious.

Eric Ravilious was a very interesting man and his work is well worth collecting. He was born in 1903 and brought up in Sussex, where his parents ran an antiques shop. In 1919 he won a scholarship to Eastbourne School of Art and then in 1925 another scholarship to travel in Italy. I have never won a scholarship so am in awe of anyone who does, but anyone who wins two……

Returning from Italy with a glowing tan and a great deal more life experience Eric held his first exhibition of watercolour drawings in 1933 in London. He sold over 50%. His second exhibition at the same gallery in 1936 saw him sell 75%, an incredible success. During the 1930s Eric was staunchly anti fascist, so in addition to his own exhibitions, he lent work to the ‘Artists Against Fascism’ exhibition.

Eric was engaged as a war artist by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee in 1939 and between then and being lost in action in September 1942 he produced some of his best work. The body of Eric Ravilious was never recovered.

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

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