Given the Potteries location, it is hardly surprising that Royal Doulton and Beswick have long provided Louis Taylor (12.5% buyer's premium) with their bread-and-butter business as well as many top lots. The first day of their quarterly fine sales is always devoted to these staples, predominantly sourced from private vendors living within a 50-mile radius of the Hanley rooms.
While vendors tend to be local, buyers comprise a broader mix of
local, national and overseas collectors and dealers - although the
uncompetitive exchange rate for US buyers has seen a tailing off of
American demand in recent months.
Louis Taylor specialist Clive Hillier reckoned prices in the
September 6-7 sale were slightly down for the lower-range and
middle-range Doulton entries.
However, he speculated that if the planned closure of the firm's
main factory in Burslem goes ahead next year (production is to be
relocated overseas) it could spark renewed interest in these
traditional British ceramics.
Whether or not it was a coincidence, following the closure of the
Beswick factory a couple of years ago prices spiralled for the most
unusual models and have remained strong since.
"There is always lots of competition for Beswick and often ten or
15 people in the room that really want the same piece - especially
farmers bidding for the cattle," said Mr Hillier.
There was no shortage of interest for the best of the 445 lots of
Beswick and Doulton offered here, with buyers found for 90 per cent
The two most expensive works were Doulton figures consigned by the
same local collector. The star turn was a figure of Mamselle HN659,
a model introduced in 1924 and withdrawn in 1938. Relatively few
examples were made and those that survive tend to be damaged,
making this pristine figure a must-have for several collectors who
contested it to a winning £3200.
From the same source came the first version of The Bather clad in
her skin-tight, multi-coloured, chequered costume and a matt back
and blue gown. Although the head of this un-numbered 1920s figure
had been broken and restored, the unusual colourway persuaded an
overseas collector to go to £3100 for ownership.
Also in the running was an unusual cloaked figure of Guy Fawkes.
Despite having no number, this was an HN347 model produced from
1919-1938. In good condition, it fetched £2400.
The strongest bid for a piece of Beswick was tendered for a matt
glazed Dutch Red Friesian cow made for the Dutch market. Estimated
to bring £300-500, the beast's unusual matt glaze put it at a
premium and an East Anglian collector bid £1100 to secure it. A
Beswick Gamecock sold more in line with expectations at £740.
Better known for their birds and beasts, Beswick also produced a
range of Walt Disney and classic children's characters and a
five-piece set of Rupert Bear and his friends fetched £660.
The strongest price in the Moorcroft section the following day was
the £2350 bid for a vase decorated with the highly sought after
Pansy design, while a coffee cup and saucer decorated with the
Claremont Toadstool design brought £1750.
Ceramics aside, there were few notable furniture or works of art
lots, with buyers bidding selectively for the best works such as a
late 18th century ivory and tortoiseshell tea caddy inlaid with
mother-of-pearl which fetched £1300 despite damage.