English porcelain birth tablets are unique to Lowestoft – and one of many pieces that give the factory’s wares such a profound sense of time and place.
This 3in (7.5cm) example, one of 17 pieces of Lowestoft offered for sale by north Norfolk auctioneers Keys of Aylsham on January 6, was probably commissioned by proud parents Edmund and Mary Liffen of Lowestoft on the birth of their daughter Eallathe on December 9, 1798.
Decorated verso with a floral sprig, it is one of the last personalised birth tablets to be made in Lowestoft before the factory closed in 1801.
The New York Sun newspaper from March 1935 reported a tablet of this description sold at auction for $55. Estimated by Keys at £4000-6000, this example sold for £7400 (plus 15% buyer's premium).
Lowestoft porcelain specialist Russell H. Sprake holds the auction record for a tablet - that inscribed Thos Anderson Born Sept 13th 1790 and painted to the reverse with an Oriental landscape. Sold at Phillips in 1996 for £4600, it took £14,000 at Sprake in 2006.