Grainger, Lee and Co porcelain nightlight holder – £2500 at Bonhams Edinburgh.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The porcelain nightlight holder was made by the firm of Grainger, Lee and Co, c.1830-35.

Fashioned in the form of a sentry box with gothic windows picked out in gold on a blue ground, the front panel is a translucent lithophane that – when lit from behind by a candle flame – depicts Napoleon against a battle scene. Another example of this rare model is illustrated in John Sandon’s The Dictionary of Worcester Porcelain (1993) but only a handful are known.

This one, offered with hopes of £100-200 at Bonhams Edinburgh (27.5/25% buyer’s premium) on July 9, took £2500.

Local interest


Chamberlains tray depicting Hawkstone Hall, seat of Rowland Hill Bart – £1700 at Halls.

A 10in (24cm) tray with reticulated edge attributed to the Chamberlain’s factory, c.1825-30, sold for £1700 at Halls (20% buyer’s premium) in Shrewsbury on July 15.

It was a piece of particular interest to Shropshire as the fine country house depicted is identified verso as Hawkstone Hall, seat of Rowland Hill Bart.

In 1828, around the time this tray was made, Viscount Hill (1772-1842) succeeded the Duke of Wellington as commander-in-chief of the British army.

Hawkstone near the village of Hodnet was the Hill family estate for more than 300 years, although the financial difficulties of the 3rd Viscount forced the sale of the hall’s contents in 1895 and the estate was split up by 1906.

This tray was sold to a private buyer who already owned its companion piece – bought from the specialist trade at a lower sum.

Baxter vases


Pair of Barr Flight & Barr vases in the manner of Thomas Baxter – £1900 at Lots Road Auctions.

Both Chamberlains and Grainger began life as late 18th century decorating shops before making porcelain. The various Flight & Barr partnerships that operated after 1783 were the heirs of Dr John Wall’s first Worcester factory established in 1751.

The Barr Flight & Barr concern, operating from 1813-40, was the maker of a striking pair of 11in (27cm) vases sold by Lots Road Auctions (22% buyer’s premium) in Chelsea on May 17 for £1900.

Probably dating to c.1820, these were in poor condition (a cover was broken and handles restuck) but the Shakespearean-themed decoration was top-drawer work.

Alongside script for the Royal Porcelain Works Worcester, London House, No 1 Coventry Street (the firm’s London showroom) were the titles The Life and Death of King John and As You Like It. The artist was probably the celebrated china painter Thomas Baxter (1782-1821).

Ultimately these three factories would become Royal Worcester – the oldest (or, to Royal Crown Derby that claims a start date of 1750, the second oldest) remaining English porcelain brand still in existence today.

The Chamberlain’s factory merged with Flight & Barr in 1849, with Grainger finally coming under the Royal Worcester wing in 1889.