Saturday - 13 February 2016

Digging for the Holy Grail

18 September 2009Written by ATG Reporter

Specialist auctioneer Andrew Hilton describes the Bear's Grease Manufacturer as 'the Holy Grail of pot lids'.

The politically incorrect lid that depicts a bear hung upside down in the process of being skinned was clearly made in only small numbers: only three were known until earlier this year when this example was dug from a disused tip in the West Midlands.

Produced in two different sizes, this example was of the larger size, 4in (10.5cm) diameter, with a coloured marbled border inscribed in black Claydon & Cos Real Bears Grease 58 Watling St. London.

Found broken in two, it was subsequently well restored and consigned to the September 5 sale at Special Auction Services (15% buyer's premium) of Kennetholme, near Midgham in Berkshire.

Estimated at £2000-4000, it was competed by a number of collectors in the room before selling to a UK buyer for £5800.

It ranks among the highest sums ever paid for a Staffordshire pot lid. SAS have sold all the other examples of Bear's Grease Manufacturer in recent years.

Another large version of the lid with lettering, suffering only a small rim chip, was sold in 1996 as part of the Ball Collection for £3800 and subsequently re-sold in the sale of the Hart Collection in 2005 for £6600.

In 2000, another large lid with restored flange from the Smith collection made £2900 whilst a small version from the Crowther collection without lettering took £3000 in 2004.

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