Wednesday - 03 September 2014

Bidding battle sees rare Worcester mug taken to £34,000

11 March 2014Written by Roland Arkell

This Worcester mug c.1754-55 proved the highlight of the Raymond Dennis collection of early English porcelain sold by Woolley & Wallis of Salisbury.

Mr Dennis started collecting porcelain as a young man in the 1950s and continued until his death in 2010. The Worcester factory was his key interest.

Globular form mugs, a shape derived from earlier stoneware examples, are seldom found in porcelain. Only a handful of other Worcester examples are known in different patterns from this - one of slightly smaller size in the High Island pattern is in the collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, while the most recent example to come onto the market was that in the Zig Zag Fence pattern sold at Bonhams in May 2006 for £15,500 as part of the R. David Butti collection.

Mr Dennis had purchased this mug from dealers Tilley & Co on April 27, 1971. The death of English porcelain specialist Frank Tilley in February of that year is recorded in a note alongside the original invoice for £240. At the time it was sold as Lund's Bristol, the experimental factory who also produced vessels of this form c.1750.

Cormorant Pattern

Measuring 4½in (11.5cm) high, it is painted with the Cormorant  pattern, a lone fisherman casting his line from his boat behind the seabird perched on a large rock, and carries a scratch cross mark to the base. Apart from the extensive 'fritting' to the surface it was in good condition.

Six phone lines were booked to bid for the mug which was estimated at £10,000-15,000 on February 25. Two of them battled it up to £32,000 before a dealer bidding for a client secured it with a maiden bid of £34,000.

The buyer's premium was 22%.

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