David Drakard is well known for his contribution to our knowledge of British ceramics both as a longstanding member of the English Ceramic Circle and as the author of two books on blue printed wares.
In particular his Spode Transfer Printed Ware, 1784-1833, co-written with Paul Holdway, has become the standard reference work on the subject and was reissued last year in a new edition by the Antique Collectors' Club.
Many of the rare patterns and unusual forms appearing in that book were taken from Mr Drakard's own collection of early (pre-1833) Spode wares he had acquired between 1963 and 1984. Approximately 400 pieces formed a fascinating sub-set of a larger sale of ceramics, glass and Oriental works of art offered at Dreweatt Neate's (15% buyer's premium) sale in Donnington Priory on October 15.
According to sources in the trade, some of the better pieces in the collection had been sold privately and Mr Drakard had been reluctant to part with some spectacular meat plates but a single factory, single period, single range sale of 262 lots is still be a catalogue and results sheet worth acquiring for the library.
There were, moreover, prices here that would be difficult to replicate in a retail environment. Blue and white wares are still an area where £200 goes a long way (and this collection aimed at representation included many common or damaged pieces in this bracket) but rarer patterns or rarer forms set pulses racing. And those pieces that combined the two, well they did even better.
Lots 193-196, for example, comprised the only known Spode wares in the Shepherdess pattern - that's pattern P705 as it appears in the second revised edition of Spode Transfer Printed Ware.
The idyllic pastoral design was produced by other Staffordshire factories in earthenware but these five pieces - possibly made as replacements and bought at Phillips in the 1980s - are in the bone china patented by Josiah Spode in the closing years of the 18th century.
An oval shaped pierced basket and stand (P705), 11in (27cm) wide, sold at £720 (estimate £300-500) but that price looked relatively good value against the two Shepherdess pattern pierced tea plates, 7.5in (19cm) diameter, sold at multi-estimate sums of £520 each.
Sold at a remarkable £1100 (estimate £200-300) was an unmarked saucer dish or bread and butter plate, 8.25in (21cm) diameter, in a rare pattern known as Chinese of Rank. Consultant Dick Henrywood (who in five years has helped the Donnington Priory auctioneers carve a deep niche in this popular collecting field) had seen only four pieces in two decades.
Also spotted by bidders as a rare (if not particularly inspiring) pattern was an octagonal stone china dessert plate in the Nettle design (P826) that made an unexpected £650 (estimate £60- 80).
Sold at £550 (estimate £80-120) was a Patience or Radiating Leaves pattern (P831) stone china dinner plate, while a Honeysuckle and Parsley pattern lobed diamond form dessert dish (P829), 11in (27cm) across commanded £440 (estimate £90-120). All were sold to Spode Society members with two UK collectors in particular looking to follow Mr Drakard in his mission to acquire all of the known factory patterns.
Plates for Display
For display purposes plates are more desirable than other standard teawares but here there was a punchy £650 bid for two cups and saucers - one of Bute shape in the Vandyke pattern (P828), the other of Pembroketype in English Sprays (P815).
The rare Musicians pattern (P706) was represented by two pieces. An exceptional washbowl, 13in (33cm) diameter, printed with a central circular vignette of four gentlemen smoking long pipes around a table with violinists playing from a gallery was sold (with minor cracks to the footrim) at £1700 (estimate £800- 1200).
Although it was smashed and glued, a double extinguisher tray in the same pattern, with loop handle and two conical supports for missing extinguishers sold at £260 (estimate £150-200).
Chambersticks such as this are surprisingly rare in blue and white and that explains the interest in a Lange Lijsen pattern French shape chamberstick (P622) that despite a haircrack in the stand made £500 (estimate £120-180).
Italian pattern (P710) wares are much easier to find but the design has a wide collecting base outside the academic collecting community. Teawares are plentiful - a range of forms are what everyone wants.
A column candlestick of 'New' shape, 10in (25cm) high brought £280 (estimate £150-200) even with some minor discolouration and glaze rubbing to the sconce, while a bourdaloue (with a crack within the base) sold at £400 (estimate £150-200), but perhaps most unusual was a covered slop bowl that for all its condition faults was a large piece at 12in (30cm) high.
It had a crack to the main pot, one handle glued, plus a crack and rim repairs to the cover but was still undervalued at £340 (estimate £150-200).
Introduced c.1814 and still in production today, the Tower pattern (P714) - derived from the printed illustration in Merigot's Views of Rome and its Vicinity published in about 1796 - is another Spode favourite. This design (depicting the Bridge of Salaro near Porta Salara, Rome) was applied to almost all of the factory's domestic range including: a small spittoon or spitting pot with trumpet mouth and strap handle, 5in (12cm) diameter, with repairs to the footrim sold at £320 (estimate £120-180); a 3.5in (9cm) suckling pot sold at £450; an open soap box with pierced liner, 7in (17cm) long sold at £580 (estimate £180-220) and a dog bowl with cracks and damage to one foot sold at £450 (estimate £250-350).
More predictable was the £1150 (estimate 600-900) paid for a Tower pattern toy dinner service comprising a covered soup tureen, two covered sauce tureens with stands, two covered vegetable dishes, an oval deep dish, two sauceboats, six graduated dishes, eight dinner plates and five soup plates.
Made in bone china, a Temple pattern beehive honey pot with a fixed stand brought £420 (estimate £120-180) while another of the successful Willow-type patterns (first developed by Josiah Spode from a Chinese exemplar c.1790), was the Forest Landscape seen here on an unmarked pattern cheese cradle, 12.5in (31cm) long with a small repaired chip to the foot that sold at £650 (estimate £300-500).
However the most celebrated of all Spode patterns is undoubtedly the Indian Sporting series - the multi-scene pattern (there are 17 in total) first introduced in about 1815 using plates from Oriental Field Sports,Wild Sports of the East written by Captain Thomas Williamson and illustrated by Samuel Howitt.
Indian Sporting pieces are particularly popular in America and accordingly operate at an altogether different price level.
Plates run at several hundred each. Tea plates printed with Groom Leading Out (estimate £100-150) and with The Hog Deer at Bay (estimate £150-200) sold here at £360 and £500 respectively - while larger serving pieces included a small, 9.5in (24cm) meat dish printed with Battle Between a Buffalo and a Tiger and a label for the A. Gresham Copeland collection sold at £1500 (estimate £300-400) and a lobed diamond shape dessert dish or comport printed with the scene titled Hunting a Civet Cat (also ex-Gresham Copeland) at £1400 (estimate £200-300).
Another dish of the same form titled Hunting a Hog Deer, 11in (27cm), sold at £2000 (estimate £200-300) and equally remarkable was the £850 (estimate £120-180) bid for a pail- shape custard cup printed with Death of the Bear, 2.5in (6.5cm) high and the £950 (estimate £250- 350) for a three-piece covered soap box the cover printed with a section adapted from Common Wolf Trap.
None were perfect, the custard cup had a hair crack to the base, the soap box, a crack in the corner of the base and a filled chip to the cover.
Smaller-scale gems at the sale included a very fine porter mug printed with a Colossal Sarcophagus near Castle Rosso, 5.75in (14cm) at £750 (estimate £500-700) and a sauce ladle printed with a design of Indian Sporting animals knocked down at £550 (estimate £150-200).