Lowestoft porcelain specialist and Suffolk auctioneer Russell Sprake is marking 50 years in the auction business this month with perhaps his finest ever sale.
Upon leaving school in 1961, Mr Sprake was seconded to the
Buttermarket, Ipswich firm of general auctioneers Robert Bond &
Sons. His father agreed to an initial payment of £300 and the
stipulation that his son would receive no salary for two years
while he learned the ropes. He worked there until 1968 when he
became a partner in Lowestoft firm Notleys, setting up on his own
The stand-alone sales of Lowestoft porcelain have been held
twice a year since 1984 - most of them portered by Graham Quayle,
who worked every R.H. Sprake sale before moving to New Zealand a
few years ago.
The business is today run with the help of Mr Sprake's wife Zoe,
his daughter and two sons, the youngest of whom was a 'babe in
arms' when in 1986 his father was commissioned by the local council
to buy a piece of Lowestoft to present to the Queen on the official
opening of Broad House Museum.
The guglet and basin c.1764-5, pictured here, rank among the
finest pieces Russell Sprake has offered in his half century.
Decorated in underglaze blue with vignettes of St Margaret's
Church, Lowestoft Harbour at high and low tide and the Roads of
Lowestoft, the artist is Robert Allen who joined the factory at the
tender age of 13 and was around 20 years old at the time (he would
live to see 90).
Labels to the footrims show they were number 87 of the 200
pieces of porcelain secured for the bicentenary exhibition at
Ipswich Museum in 1957 mounted by leading authority Noel
The lender then was the vendor now: an Ipswich engineering
family who acquired them shortly after they were purchased by
dealer Hugh Green of Green & Hatfield at the sale of the
Russell Coleman collection (of mustard fame) in 1948. The price 63
years ago was £80. Another similar guglet and basin decorated by
Richard Phillips are in the Norwich Castle Museum, bequeathed by
Russell Coleman, who evidently once owned two of these iconic
The pair to be offered by Mr Sprake will carry an estimate of
£24,000-27,000 when it comes up for auction on October 28. It is
one of 84 lots from 15 vendors, including one primary consigment
from which a further selection will be offered in May 2012.
Contact 01986 892736.
By Roland Arkell