A 221-lot auction of Contemporary Ceramics, made up the final instalment of Bonhams’ design week series on September 24. The two most bankable names in this market are Hans Coper and Lucie Rie and their work can usually be relied on to dominate the top price slots.

On this occasion, though, their impact was reduced. Four of the eight Copers were bought in, including the three that sported
five-figure estimates, as were over half the Ries. Their relative absence from the price list was undoubtedly a major factor in this sale’s less than stellar final statistics, with the £143,000 total amounting to a selling rate in money of just 54 per cent.

Work by most of the other potters generally performed better, however, so that the auctioneers managed to sell a more comfortable 64 per cent by lot. Bonhams’ Ben Willams put buyers’ reluctance down to economic conditions. ”It was the first sale I can remember where we haven’t had one item over £10,000” he said.

Elizabeth Fritsch’s 131/2in (34cm) high spout pot of c.1978, pictured here, proved to be the sale’s joint best-seller at £8500, comfortably over the £5000-7000 estimate. It shared the slot with an 83/4in (22cm) diameter Lucie Rie porcelain flared bowl of c.1975 estimated at the same level.