As ever, there was a large amount of Doulton Lambeth on offer at Bonhams’ latest Ceramics Design sale.
Probably too much, reflected Bonhams' Mark Oliver, noting how some of the more standard wares struggled in both the single- and mixed-owner sessions on September 21-22 at their Knightsbridge rooms.
But, for rarities that ticked all the boxes, there was more demand most notably in the case of two massive faience vases from c.1900.
Standing 20in (50cm) high these are painted in great detail by J.H. McLennan with scenes from the story of The Goose Girl.
Part of the 129-lot British collection offered on the first day, they had been purchased from Richard Dennis' 1975 Doulton Exhibition. Market fresh and imposing, they were bid to £9000.
Also in the 1975 exhibition was a pair of 13½in (34cm) high oviform green-ground vases of the same period, painted by the same artist with nursery rhyme scenes for Little Bo Peep and Jack and Jill, which came in at £8500.
Condition issues, lack of market freshness and optimistic estimates meant that the selection of George Tinworth's anthropomorphic animal studies may not have excited the room this time around, but bidders seemed rather more attracted by a couple of similar subjects by the equally talented Doulton Lambeth artist Mark Marshall.
There were two 4¾in (12cm) high versions of his figural flower vase modelled as rabbits in wedding attire titled The Waning of The Honeymoon. One glazed in green, was dated 1880 to the base but otherwise unmarked, while the other, predominantly buff coloured, had no artist's monogram but carried a date and impressed factory mark. Accordingly both were reasonably guided at £1200-1500, and came in at £1500 and £1600 respectively.
Inter-War Doulton pottery with Oriental style high fire glazes by Charles Noke and Harry Nixon have been a keenly contested area of the ceramic design market in recent times.
Bonhams had a particularly good illustration of this in March when a pristine thickly glazed Chang vase moulded with a dragon was taken to £9800.
The auctioneers had another version to offer on the second day of the sale but this time, with slight restoration, the price was £5500.
Doulton HN series figures are a field where, rarities aside, demand has fallen off considerably and the post-War designs which are in plentiful supply are struggling (figures from the 1950s, '60s and '70s now only make around a third of what they did 20 years ago, reckons Bonhams' Mark Oliver). Accordingly, where they once held entire sales devoted to Doulton, the auctioneers now have to severely limit the Burslem figure intake to what is still in demand, which tends to be rare, early pieces, stylish Deco designs or the trial models and rare colourways.
As case in point was The Coquette HN20, a rare figure produced from 1913-38, which tipped its guide to take £3200.
The buyer's premium was 25/20/10%.