A long-serving expert on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, the acknowledged leading authority on Worcester porcelain and a specialist across all ceramics, he has decided to sell a large part of his personal collection.
The auction, titled The Henry Sandon Ceramic Study Collection, will take place on April 18 at Chorley’s in Prinknash Abbey Park, Gloucester comprising 1000 items across 380 lots.
Sandon, whose son John Sandon is also a ceramics expert on Antiques Roadshow and a former Bonhams' specialist in glass and ceramics, began his career with an interest in archaeology.
Sandon originally moved to Worcester to teach at the grammar school and sing in the choir and by chance fell in love with ceramics.
He said: “Once in Worcester I discovered ceramics everywhere. I dug up Roman and Medieval pots in my garden by the Cathedral… which led me to attend local auctions and antique shops filled with Worcester porcelain.
“In 1967 the museum needed a new curator and my enthusiasm got me the job that changed my life.
“I learnt the history of Worcester porcelain from scratch, helped by wonderful mentors, three of whom gave me the same advice: Jim Kiddell from Sotheby’s, the great collector Dr Bernard Watney and my dear friend Geoffrey Godden all told me that the best way to learn about ceramics was to form a study collection. It didn’t matter that I could only afford damaged examples of the early pottery I coveted. I knew it was important to buy as much as I could and to hold it and live with it.”
Sandon later attended auctions at Bruton Knowles (forerunner to Chorley’s) where he met and became friends with the legendary antiques specialist Arthur Negus (1903-85). They then both appeared on the Roadshow together.
In 1967 Sandon was appointed curator of the Dyson Perrins Museum at the Royal Worcester Factory (a position he held until 1982) and he joined the Roadshow team in 1979, regularly appearing for decades.
Sandon, now 94, sold part of his collection 40 years ago when he went to Canada as the director of The George Gardiner Museum in Toronto but has now decided to sell the rest as he is moving into a care home.
Sandon added: “Now that I am older than most of the ceramics in my collection, I am no longer able to pick up and hold and cherish every one of the hundreds of pieces I have lived with all around me. I need other people to help care for me now and so it’s time to find new owners to care for all my beloved pots.”
The above plate is from a service commissioned in 1928 by Kellogg cereal founder William Keith Kellogg (1860-1951).
In 1985 Sandon advised on the sale of the service, being offered in sets of twelve plates, and was allowed to choose the one ‘spare’ plate of each design for himself. The current example is the one he chose.
“I have known Simon Chorley way back since Arthur Negus’s days and so I asked him to organise this sale. Apart from just a few special favourites for my family to treasure, it is time for all of my pots to join new study collections.”
Simon Chorley, who first met Sandon in 1965 at the Three Choirs Festival at Gloucester (when he was a chorister at Gloucester Cathedral and Sandon was a Lay Clerk at Worcester), said: “In the early 1970s I joined the firm Bruton Knowles and was under the wing of Arthur Negus. Henry often attended auctions and occasionally met and chatted with Arthur.
“After Arthur’s death in 1985, I was involved with arranging the auction of his treasured collection. Henry very much enjoyed that sale and it is now a privilege for me to be involved in arranging Henry’s sale.”
Chorley bought out Bruton Knowles art and antiques auction business and renamed it Chorley's in 2006.
The Henry Sandon Ceramic Study Collection of 380 lots dating from 2000BC to the present day has a low estimate total of £50,000.