Bought for just £8, the buyer recognised it on a stall as by the famed Victorian designer William De Morgan. The lustre tile – pictured above – subsequently sold for £3800 (hammer) from an estimate of £800-1200 at Woolley & Wallis’ Arts, Crafts and Design sale on October 6-7, thus netting the purchaser around a cool £3400 profit after fees.
The atmospheric pannier indoor market in the Devon town was built in the 1850s and takes its name from the panniers once used to carry goods to market on the back of pack animals.
The monthly antiques and collectables fair is held in the Grade II-listed Butchers Hall with the next on Sunday, November 17, and a vintage and salvage fair running on Saturday, November 28.
The Arts and Crafts movement, which De Morgan was part of, advocated that decorative arts should be handmade with traditional methods and he and his workshop created tiles the ‘old-fashioned’ way.
Demand, and therefore prices, have grown for these decorative tiles in the past decade.
In June 2012, £5100 (plus 20% buyer’s premium) was bid for a rare monochrome blue and white kingfisher De Morgan tile – a record bettered in December 2013 when a Sands End period tile painted in shades of blue and green with a pair of chameleons took £7200 at Woolley & Wallis – the current record for a William De Morgan tile. Last year another De Morgan tile took £6000 demonstrating the market remains strong.
Read more about the topic in Antiques Trade Gazette’s collecting guide on tiles.