The fact that businessman Ken Manley chose to name his Scottish Grand National winning racehorse Moorcroft Boy provides a clue as to his favourite potter.
Even when a house move occasioned the sale of
close to 100 pieces of Moorcroft pottery at Woolley &
Wallis in 2011, his remaining collection still numbered 400
pieces and ranked high among the finest in the country.
If some of the 64 lots sold in 2011 ranked
as routine pieces from across the James Macintyre, William and
Walter Moorcroft period, then the ten Ken Manley lots offered in
Salisbury a year later on November 28 were anything but.
Both in value and in rarity they represented
the cream of the collection.
Back in May 2002, when Sotheby's sold the
first part of the Albert E. Wade collection, a Macintyre Hesparian
Ware jardinière and stand established a Moorcroft record when it
sold (to Manley as it turned out) at £28,000.
Decorated with carp swimming among Art
Nouveau waterweed in shades of blue on a pale blue ground,
highlighted with pale red flambé, it is among the largest pieces to
leave the Macintyre kilns and is thought to be unique. What would
it bring this time around?
W&W specialist Michael Jeffery was able
to pitch it at a realistic £10,000-15,000 - a level comfortably
surpassed when it sold to a UK collector at £22,000.
Two examples of the celebrated 12in (31cm)
high, double-gourd Carp design vase c.1914 were offered
Most of the handful of surviving examples,
such as that which made $15,000 (£10,200) at Sotheby's New York in
2001 as part of the Harriman Judd collection, are decorated in
green on a blue ground with three scallop shells to the neck.
Manley's vase in this colourway, with a
small bruise to the top rim, sold at £13,000 (estimate
But this select offering also included a
Carp vase with a flambé glaze (and no scallop shells)
similar to that sold by Bonhams in 2009 at £16,000.
Estimated at £8000-12,000, the Manley vase
sold to a UK collector at £22,000 - a record for a Moorcroft vase
to sit comfortably alongside the record for Martin
Brothers seen earlier in the sale (the £50,000 taken for
the superb grotesque jar).
Another rare vase from the Macintyre period,
and among eight of the ten Manley lots to find a buyer, was an 8in
(20cm) high, slender, baluster-form example decorated with four
butterflies to the shoulder and glazed in lustre colours over a
cream and orange ground.
Moorcroft's signature was incised to the
rim, rather than painted to the base as is normal.
Ken Manley had acquired it in November 2002
at the second tranche of the Wade sale for £1900. At Salisbury it
doubled hopes, selling at £4000.
Woolley & Wallis have sold many of
George Tinworth's wonderful frog and mouse groups across the years
but a rarity was School Board, a 3½in (9cm) high menu
holder modelled as two young mice learning the alphabet, their
teacher pointing to the letters on a board.
In March 2011, when Tennants of Leyburn sold
a veritable plague of Tinworth mice, one of these made £4200.
The W&W offering performed much the same, overcoming minor
condition problems of some small chips to an ear and the base to
bring £4000 (estimate £1000-1500).