Dr Trevor Darling (1936-2018) was an academic collector. He liked the mysteries of the attribution of unmarked pieces. He once remarked that just like his day job, “it was the diagnosis that intrigued him”.
We first met him in January 1993 at the London Ceramics Fair in the Cumberland Hotel, where he purchased a Worcester butter cooler from us. We built up a good relationship, particularly as we exhibited at several fairs in his area including the fondly remembered Goodwood House Antiques Fair.
As an academic collector, Dr Darling researched not just attribution but shapes and function. He wrote papers on patty pans, leaf dishes, potting pots etc. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the English Ceramic Circle and the Northern Ceramic Society and many papers were read or publish by these societies.
The discovery of ceramic shards in Isleworth, in the London Borough of Hounslow, proved to be a catalyst for his diagnostic passion. While at the first dig on the banks of the Thames, it was Dr Darling who discovered the all-important first dated shard. Following the dig he spent several years travelling to London to examine the shards in the Museum of London. Dr Darling, not surprisingly, purchased complete pieces of Isleworth over the years and these will be sold by us over time.
Dr Darling wanted his collection to go back to collectors like himself. His interest started because of his grandfather who lived in Worcester. The early experience with porcelain became a learning interest throughout his life, but like so many collectors, real collecting begins when you have both money and time. On his retirement, the seed of his youth grew rapidly and this wonderful collection was put together.
This collection is not going to be sold in haste. The first pieces will be in our spring exhibition at Chelsea with an associated catalogue and internet catalogue.
As the exhibition was planned far earlier than the acquisition of the collection, Dr Darling’s pieces will be used to supplement the other fine pieces scheduled for the exhibition. This will be followed by a larger less specialised catalogue in late May/early June. All the fairs we are doing this year will have unannounced pieces from the collection.
Brad Dover, Jupiter Antiques