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.