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THE first catalogue of English Pottery in the Henry H. Weldon Collection, English Pottery – Stoneware and Earthenware 1650-1800, was published in 1990 and largely comprised items bought at Sotheby’s sale of the Rous Lench Collection in 1986. Since then the Weldon Collection has grown to more than 700 pieces. This book concentrates on those additions.

Volume II is referred to in the foreword as beginning from a “point of unexpected adversity” with the discovery in the summer of 1991 of a group of “18th-century” English white salt-glazed stonewares, unglazed red stonewares, agate wares and “tortoiseshell” earthenwares in rare, often unique shapes, made between 1983 and 1991 with such skill that for nearly a decade these perfect fakes went into many a fine collection, including the Weldon. A tale of the alleged potter’s jilted girlfriend (the defendant was actually acquitted) singing to New Scotland Yard was followed by 20 suspect pieces, all of which featured in Volume I, being identified in the Weldon Collection alone. The police, the courts and a cast of characters right out of Dickens led to the Weldons going public and hitting the lecture circuit, loaning out both fakes and genuine pieces to museum exhibitions at Stoke-on-Trent and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The ‘fakes’ are now housed permanently in the Winterthur Museum as the ultimate educational aid to comparative study, and the story of these master forgeries forms part of the important Chapter 5 – Fakes – with a feature by Pat Halfpenny: Collector Beware.

Peter Williams is the former director of the ceramics department at Sotheby’s and Pat Halfpenny is director of the museums collection at Winterthur Museum, US and their chapters cover tin-glazed earthenware, stoneware and earthenware – useful wares and figures. Each piece is pictured, provenanced and attributed wherever possible with the support of documentary and/or archaeological evidence, the better to assist in building up an account of the wares made by “minor” 17th and 18th ceramicists. There is a postscript chapter on recent acquisitions.