THE Edinburgh sales at Bonhams and Lyon & Turnbull in August both featured Wemyss wares, offering an opportunity to assess the current market.
Tempting as it is to hark back to the remarkable prices achieved
earlier this century - including the £20,000 bid for the tabby from
the Drambuie collection sold by Lyon & Turnbull in 2006 or
£29,000 apiece bid at Sotheby's Gleneagles for two sleeping piglets
in 2004 - the feeling is that today's prices reflect a return of
sanity rather than a market collapse.
Tough luck for vendors, of course, but good news for true
collectors in what has traditionally been a steady rather than
spectacular niche area.
"Those record-setting prices were really flukes and there were
all sorts of rumours about who was setting them," said Bonhams
specialist Katherine Wright (Elton John was reportedly a fan). Here
estimates reflected market realities.
Most of the standard domestic wares achieved three-figure sums
at Bonhams' August 16-18 sale, but the best price, as expected, was
for a rare sleeping piglet decorated with cabbage roses. Probably
by one of Wemyss finest decorators, James Sharp, the 6¾in (17cm)
piglet sold on its low £4000 estimate. Seemingly for this model we
are back to the price levels of the early 1990s.
At Lyon & Turnbull the afternoon sale on August 16 comprised
210 items of Wemyss, 140 of which (66%) found buyers who were
sometimes reluctant to meet vendors' expectations.
Top seller here was a rare rabbit figure dating from c.1900.
Decorated with black spongeware and printed with the mark of London
retailers T. Goode & Co, the 6¼in (16cm) rabbit suffered
hairlines but is one of only two known examples.
Estimated at £3000-5000, it got away at £2600 to lead the
Two post-1930, 17in (44cm) long pigs from the Bovey Tracy
period, one decorated with cabbage roses, the other with black
spongeware, went a shade above top estimates, each selling at
Among the non-animal offerings a couple of ewers and basins were
One, c.1900 decorated by Karel Nekola with fruiting vines
comprised a 10in (25cm) tall ewer and 15¼in (39cm) diameter basin.
The other, dated early 20th century, a 6in (15.5cm) tall ewer and
11¼in (28.5cm) basin decorated with dragonflies by Edwin Sandland.
Size was not a consideration for bidders, the larger example
bringing a mid-estimate £1000 and the smaller the same sum against
a £600-800 estimate.
Perhaps rather oddly, one of the best Wemyss prices this summer
came not from Scotland but down in Essex where
Sworders of Stansted Mountfitchet offered a pair
of 13in (32cm) cats on August 2. The hectic days when a true pair
such as this, decorated in an unusual marmalade colourway, could
have brought a five-figure sum being over, the cats were estimated
at £5000-8000 and sold on the lower figure.
Lyon & Turnbull: 25/20%