Linthorpe pottery sake bottle designed by Dr Christopher Dresser – £17,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

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The 7in (17cm) vessel, with impressed maker’s marks and an indistinct impressed facsimile signature, carried an estimate of £400-600 in the sale of Decorative Arts & Design at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh on October 23. The buyer was a collector.

Fijian inspiration

Unlike his more formal creations for the Minton factory, Dresser enjoyed free rein when creating designs for something like 1000 pots while working as art superintendent at Linthorpe from 1879-82.

He drew on a wide range of influences including Minoan, Cycladic, pre-Columbian, Chinese and Japanese ceramics as well as locally found prehistoric and Bronze Age artefacts.

This particular vessel and a similar ashtray of a spread-eagled male with the same unglazed head are based on a carved wood Fijian libation vessel in the British Museum.

While Dresser’s designs for Linthorpe were intended for mass production, some were made in small numbers.

Although well-known from Michael Whiteway’s Dresser monograph, this form rarely appears for sale. However, a yellow-glazed model sold at €5500 (£5000) as part of Christie’s dedicated Japonism sale in Paris in 2018 while an (unsigned) flask with a professionally restored spout went unsold on four outings at Woolley & Wallis in 2012 with an estimate of £1200-1800.

Lyon & Turnbull specialist John Mackie said last week’s price, which was comfortably a new high for the pottery, “follows a spate of strong bids for Dresser Linthorpe that suggest new interest in a hitherto erratic market”.