They experienced occasional and impressive highs with 453 lots of Chintz, Beswick, Poole, Royal Doulton and Carlton Ware, but overall sale statistics – only 57 per cent sold for a £122,505 total, half the high estimate – were among the poorest recorded in this category at Old Brompton Road. Michael Jeffery at CSK was pretty confident that August represented a ‘blip’ rather then any more fundamental change in the market, but some serious post-sale analysis was underway at CSK last week to explain just how the wheels came off the runaway train.
CSK have enjoyed more success in this field than perhaps any other auctioneer, but they still remain inexperienced. Accordingly, it was generally felt that CSK had bitten off more than they could chew with a number of the estimates and the expectations of one or two vendors hoping to cash in their chips while the going was good may have been responsible for the poor show.
It all served as a reminder that, with all its subtleties, this marketplace is like any other, very much at the mercy of supply and demand from a limited number of enthusiasts. It was also suggested that the timing of the sale as part of a bank holiday weekend limited rather than improved attendance.
Carlton Ware proved to be one of the most selective areas, but also included the sale’s top price – a rare footed powder bowl with a figural handle, 6in (15cm) high, which sold for £3500.
Chintz – the all-over floral-printed ceramics which were on the front cover of every lifestyle magazine just three or four years ago – remains a major player in the 20th century field, but it has an element of old news about it. This niche market has polarised towards Royal Winton at the expense of the many other factories.
August ‘blip’ in the 20th century
UK: The market for 20th century collectable ceramics can be a fickle beast – as quick to react to fashion as a high street shirt – so one should not necessarily be surprised to learn that, for once, Christie’s South Kensington (17.5 per cent buyer’s premium) found the temperature variable when they dipped their toes into these waters on August 25, 2000.