THE small factory at Limehouse, operating on the banks of the Thames just to the east of the Tower of London from 1745-1748, was one of the pioneers of English porcelain manufacture.
Positive identification has only been possible since wasters and
fragments were unearthed at the site at 108-116 Narrow Street in
This pair of 9in (22cm) sauceboats, with their lion-mask handles
and silver shape, are typical Limehouse. They were consigned to
Fieldings of Stourbridge as part of a deceased
estate. The vendor's late mother, who lived in Herefordshire, was
interested in antiques but probably had no knowledge of their
The form is the same as another with chinoiserie decoration
illustrated in Geoffrey Godden's English Blue and White
Porcelain (and sold for £5200 at Bonhams in May
However, the rococo-style vignettes, one with a cottage viewed
through trees, the other with a ruined monument, and roses and buds
on leafy stems, are more akin to a relief-moulded sauceboat sold by
Bonhams as part of the Godden reference collection in June 2010 for
£6200. The line-drawn profile masks painted towards the lip have
Above: a detail of one of the line-drawn profile masks seen
on the £34,000 Limehouse sauceboats.
Although initially catalogued as 'late 18th or early 19th
century' and 'probably Chinese', research led the auctioneers to
change their attribution and revise their estimate from £500-800 to
£1500-2000 prior to their sale on January 14. The new guideline was
In contrast to the aforementioned pieces, both new discoveries
were in good condition.
While they exhibited the fritting and firing cracks that
characterise these experimental wares, a small chip to one was the
only subsequent imperfection. Competition from six telephone lines
(including two American buyers) and two bidders in the room saw
them sell at £34,000 (plus 21 per cent buyer's premium), an auction
record for the Limehouse factory.
The purchaser was Jupiter Antiques in East Sussex.
Remarkably, it is the second splendid pair of early English
porcelain sauceboats to appear in the regions in recent years: in
September 2009 Knutsford auctioneers Frank Marshall sold a pair of
Chelsea blue triangle period sauceboats with polychrome landscape
decoration c.1745-49 for a house record £41,000.