The selection covers all periods of factory production but is primarily focused on signed prime period wares: the Macintyre era (1897-1912) when William Moorcroft was designing for James Macintyre & Co and the subsequent tenure when, backed by the famous London store Liberty & Co, Moorcroft was operating on his own from Sandbach Road, Cobridge.
Dealer-publisher Richard Dennis, himself an owner of the factory in the 1980s, will give a talk titled My Life with Moorcroft prior to the sale in Evesham.
The upcoming collection, given a stand-alone catalogue, includes what must be the largest selection of Moorcroft miniatures ever offered for sale – 170 of them from the William Moorcroft period alone (plus others from later factory incarnations).
Miniatures, produced in most patterns, are a collecting field of their own – an array of different examples providing a famous cover illustration to the factory history, Moorcroft: A Guide to Moorcroft Pottery 1897-1993 by Paul Atterbury (1993). Moorcroft miniatures have a commercial worth that can far outweigh their diminutive stature: some tiny rarities from the Macintyre era can command sums similar to those for full-size versions.
The accessible estimates here range from £100-150 (for an 8cm Flammanian ware vase c.1904) to £1500-2000 for a 7.5cm Macintyre Yellow Poppy vase on a white ground c.1904.
Macintyre scent flask
A Macintyre scent flask is a great rarity. There are two in the sale both from c.1904, one flask form vessel decorated with Tudor Roses estimated at £1500-2000, the other egg form with a gilt metal screw top decorated with Blue Poppy pitched at £2000-2500.
The former piece had sold for close to £5000 at auction a decade ago.
Small is often considered beautiful in Moorcroft collecting circles. However, the collection also includes a wide range of more typical shapes and forms in an A-Z of patterns that follow the factory history from its roots in the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts through to the larger flower patterns and wares reflecting the style of the Art Deco period.
Notable are the 11 examples of the Waratah pattern – the rare design depicting the state flower of New South Wales that was made primarily for the colonial market in the early 1930s. Several different ground colours and glaze treatments are represented – including the high-temperature flambé glazes for which a special kiln was built in 1921.
An experimental ‘export’ vase with a black ground depicting the bloom of the Australian Gum tree, c.1930 is one of only three recorded. The latter is estimated at £4000-6000.
The Pomegranate pattern is far more common but a highlight of the collection is a large two-handled baluster vase c.1910 that combines a deep frieze of finely-observed pomegranates with panels of poppies to the neck.
In the opinion of Walter Moorcroft (the son of the founder who joined the factory in 1935), this 31cm high vase was the finest piece the Moorcroft factory ever produced.
Last on the market in December 1997 when it was sold by Toronto auctioneers Waddingtons, the estimate this time around is £8000-12,000.
Read ATG's in-depth guide to Moorcroft pottery here.