2650 AR Gildings Bird

A Whieldon type pottery model of a parrot, estimate £100-200, sold by Gildings for £2100.

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Perched in its 556-lot Antiques & Collectors sale on June 18, the pottery figure was consigned by a local private client, who brought it to the saleroom to determine whether it was worth selling or donating to charity.

As Will Gilding from the auction house told the ATG, the distinctive bird (parrot-like in form) was a whopping 9in (23cm) high, and although it was in the mid-18th century Whieldon style, birds from that Staffordshire pottery are usually smaller.

In addition, the damage to the pedestal base included some crude historic repairs. The auctioneer felt it was prudent to give the characterful bird a cautious estimate of £100-200 and described it simply as "an 18th century pottery model of a bird in the style of Whieldon, 23cm" - it was left to the bidders to decide its fate.

Whieldon type modelling and decoration

Thomas Whieldon (1719-95) was an English potter who played a leading role in the development of Staffordshire pottery.

He was particularly well known for his stone and earthenware, which featured a lustrous lead glaze over a creamware body daubed with coloured oxides. This style of decoration became known as ‘Whieldon type’.

However, the attribution of actual pieces to his factory has long been uncertain given the lack of markings. Terms such as ‘Whieldon type’ are used when encountering models which ‘appear’ to be in his style and possibly attributable to the Whieldon Staffordshire pottery based at Fenton Vivian.

2650 AR Gildings Bird 2

An alternative view of the Whieldon type pottery model of a parrot, estimate £100-200, sold by Gildings for £2100.

Versions of this c.1760 model have appeared on the market previously, such as in Christie's London, November 1992 and September 2005, when a Whieldon type parrot realised £6050 and a pair sold for £6600 (inclusive of buyer's premium) respectively.

In addition, Emily (Millie) Manheim, the highly regarded scholar and dealer based in New York and London, also owned a Whieldon type figure of a ‘parrot’, as documented by John Howard (antique English pottery specialist) on his website, with an accompanying photo.

'Rarity and charm'

Spotting its rarity and charm, and despite condition issues, bidders flocked to bid for Gildings' example. Trade and private buyers alike battled online and on the phone, with the parrot finally hammering down to a specialist trade buyer for £2100.