ENGLISH POTTERY SALESTHE products of the Staffordshire potteries from blue-printed tablewares to cottage chimney ornaments and Toby jugs to ironstone services, were the subject of a 356-lot sale at Bonhams’ Knightsbridge (20/12% buyer’s premium) back on May 11.
While demand for these categories has not been soaring away recently, the auctioneers managed some very respectable selling rates for this event: 86 per cent by lot and a even more bullish 89 per cent in money on a total of £125,360.
Keeping estimates at realistic levels helped ensure these strong selling rates, but specialist Gareth Willams said he also marketed the sale at specific groups in other disciplines on Bonhams' client list which may have helped increase interest. In total, the sale saw 90 different buyers of which Mr Williams reckoned two-thirds were private and one third trade.
The sale was also helped by the inclusion of a 45-lot single owner pottery collection that was market fresh, little known and keenly estimated. The collection of Judith and Leonard Licht, much of it made up of Prattware plaques and busts, was started in the 1970s and its owners decided that, with space at a premium, the time had come to sell.
"Essentially the collection was there to be sold," said Mr Williams, and indeed all bar half a dozen lots found buyers, although not everything romped away. The potential best-seller, a Prattware Napoleonic bear-baiting jug of c.1800 featuring a muzzled brown bruin clutching a monkey wearing a hat inscribed Boney sold short of its £4000-6000 estimate at £2800. Admittedly it had damage, but was nonetheless a desirable subject.
One area of the pottery market that has been performing strongly is Toby jugs with a group of around a dozen particularly keen UK collectors and dealers contesting any good examples to substantially higher levels than a few years ago.
Bonhams' sale included a 40-lot selection from five different vendors. While some of the lower valued, damaged versions struggled, there was no shortage of demand for the 10in (25cm) high Wood type Admiral Lord Howe jug of c.1790, shown here, which ended up selling for £7800 against predictions of £3000-5000. Gareth Williams recalled selling another version of this model with particularly attractive strong colours in November 2001 for £3300.
This section also included a more recent Toby offering, a Wilkinsons set of WW1 leaders jugs modelled by Carruthers Gould. The auctioneers had split these up to sell separately on the basis it would increase the potential pool of buyers to those who wanted to fill gaps. All found buyers, led at £1400 by a General Botha jug.