Pot-Lids and other Coloured Printed Staffordshire Wares: Reference and Price Guide by KV Mortimer, published by the Antique Collectors’ Club, ISBN 1851494383, £35hb. ALL the literature on pot lids is now well over 20 years old – the ACC’s last book on the subject, The Price Guide to Pot-Lids and other Under-Glazes, was published in 1970 and again in 1980.
Comparing prices in the latest book with the report in Antiques Trade Gazette No 1646, July 3 on Special Auction Services’ June sale of the Leslie Crowther Collection of some 1000 pot lids, these would seem to be nearly spot on, although a price revision list will be issued annually or whenever there are significant changes in market prices.
This highly detailed full colour reference book lifts the lid on the arcane world that is heaven for members of the Pot Lid Circle, offering rarity categories with numbers of pot lids in existence and helpful comments such as these “will be quite accurate for the rarer items”. The Exceptionally Rare is categorised as RRRR, with between one and ten examples known to exist. Then there is RRR for Extremely Rare (10-25 examples known), RR for Very Rare (25-50), and R (50-150).
In the Crowther sale, the rare 4in (11cm) Our Home lid, sans verse – the original watercolour by the gifted artist Jesse Austin was without verse – sold for £4000, the same price it made in 1998.
Jesse Austin was the leading artist for pictures shown on pot lids, producing 128 watercolours which have been found on lids and wares. Page 144 offers Our Home as an RRRR, “no verse as the watercolour and no title”, £2000-4000. So, along with most of the rest of the prices made in this sale, this book would appear to have been open at the appropriate pages to check on the subject and its variants.
Professor Mortimer has been chairman of the Pot Lid Society since 1990 and has here classified all the known pot lids by subject, listing their many variations, assessing their rarity and value and giving information on their history and pot contents. Measurements are given and rarity has been gauged as closely as possible by checking out nearly every relevant auction catalogue from 1924 to 2000, plus those which are in major collections.
The introduction includes a dating section and an identification of the early and late examples of this early form of visual packaging, which were standard products of the potteries by the 1830s. It is interesting to learn that the number of unknown lids which have come to light in the last 50 years numbers only around five.