Thursday - 23 October 2014

Moorcroft Boy wins again

21 December 2011Written by Roland Arkell

Moorcroft Boy recorded one of the great comebacks in racing history when he recovered from a horrific injury at Aintree in 1995 to win the Scottish National the following year.

He retired to become the flag bearer of the Racehorse Welfare Centre in the Sussex Weald.

Less well known is that the horse was named by owner and businessman Ken Manley after the potter who first caught his gaze in the early 1970s. Four decades on Manley now has one of the finest collections of Moorcroft in the country.

A house move occasioned the downsizing of an assemblage, which still numbers close to 400 pieces, at Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury on November 30. Close to 100 pieces were offered across 64 lots as part of a wider sale titled British Art Pottery.

There were routine pieces here from across the Macintyre, William and Walter Moorcroft periods but this was no second eleven, including as its centrepiece an apparently unique Bamboo and Orchids pattern vase from 1914. Illustrated in Paul Atterbury's Moorcroft Pottery, it is believed this 13in (32cm) vase was inspired by a watercolour by Thomas Moorcroft (William's father) that had received a silver medal from the Department of Art and Science in 1875. It was estimated at £10,000-15,000 and found its low estimate - seemingly the highest price paid for a piece of Moorcroft in the UK in 2011.

Sold at £4800 (estimate £3000-4000) was a pair of Macintyre period Florian Ware vases, 81/2in (22cm) high, painted in the Pansy pattern in of green and red on a salmon pink ground while a 9in (23cm) baluster vase in the Spanish pattern sold for £3200 (estimate £2000-2500). All were in perfect condition save a tiny glaze frit to the rim of the latter.

Moorcroft from other vendors keen to sell alongside Manley various included a pair of 10in (25cm) Macintyre Florian Ware landscape vases painted with stylised tall trees in shades of green and blue on a white ground. Both were damaged but specialist Michael Jeffery considered them "probably the best painted Moorcroft vases I have seen". They were keenly contested up to £6000 (estimate £2000-4000).

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Above: Damaged but finely painted, this pair of Macintyre Florian Ware landscape vases sold for £6000 at at Woolley & Wallis' sale of the Ken Manley collection.

 

This British Art Pottery auction, including sell-out sections of Pilkington's Lancastrian from the Bill Coles collection and an 18-lot collection of pieces from the Dennis Chinaworks, was also particularly strong on William De Morgan and studio pottery.

The final part of the Jon Catleugh collection of tiles by De Morgan offered in 57 lots met with minimal resistance with the top price of £2600 shared by both a Sand's End Pottery two-tile Galleon panel and a three tile panel, decorated with two serpents before foliage.

Particularly positive in the context of a sometimes selective market was the 90 per cent selling rate recorded by 125 lots of studio wares. Active potters such as Paul Young and John Maltby shared the success of Lucie Rie, Bernard Leach and his contemporaries. A 71/2in (18.5cm) flattened form bottle vase  with a tenmoku lustre glaze made by Shoji Hamada whilst at the Leach Pottery in St Ives led proceedings at £3200

Included among other highlights was a small Martin Brothers stoneware bird jar and cover purchased by the vendor in the 1970s before the publication of the book on the factory and the landmark exhibition at Richard Dennis. Modelled with forward looking gaze, hooked beak and incised Martin Bros London & Southall, it stood 7in (17.5cm) high. The hammer fell in the middle of the £7000-9000 estimate.

However a price of perhaps more note in this section was tendered for a miniature 'anemone' form gourd vase dated 4-1906 and glazed in ochre and green. Particularly well potted even by the standards of R.W. Martin, it measured just 21/2in (6.5cm) but sold at £1400 (estimate £300-500).

A low estimate but a high price was the consensus following the performance of a 12in (30cm) Doulton Lambeth ewer of slender form decorated by Florence Barlow with a pate sur pate red squirrel within a scrolling foliate border by Eliza Simmance. The subject matter (unusual for Barlow) saw it bring £3800, many times the low estimate of £250.

A massive Bernard Moore flambe glazed bowl with patinated metal mounts and foot sold above top hopes at £2200. Measuring an impressive 18in (45cm) across, it was decorated both inside and out (to an impressed Minton black) with scrolling dragons. It too was from the collection of Ken Manley.

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