Beatrix Potter, (who had rejected a series of models of her characters by Royal Doulton) agreed a partnership with Leonard Grimwade in 1917 for a range of transfer printed nursery ware, in part to curb the volume of pirated china on the market.
Grimwade’s did not actually begin manufacturing until 1922, blaming war-time shortages, but Potter was pleased with the final results and ordered a selection for Christmas presents.
Single pieces, particular cups, saucers and teaplates, can be found with relative ease at £20-50.
However, the lot offered by Wessex Auction Rooms (17% buyer’s premium) in Chippenham on April 10 was appealing for its sheer volume of pieces (more than 100 at a rough count), the inclusion of some of scarcer forms and patterns and the presence of an original box with its Squirrel Nutkin, Jemima Puddle Duck and Tom Kitten artwork.
The box was not in great condition but seldom survives and is typically often offered in reproduction.
The £50-100 estimate was always likely to be broken tenfold and more: ultimately it was hammered down at £2200.
Winnie the Pooh theme
Two years after the first Winnie the Pooh book was published in 1926, the Ashstead Pottery – set up to offer work for disabled veterans from the First World War – created a nursery teaset printed with various characters illustrated by EH Shepard.
The first complete set was given to the Duke and Duchess of York as a gift for a young Princess Elizabeth when they visited the short-lived pottery in 1928, with the second given to AA Milne’s son, the original Christopher Robin.
As detailed to the base of each piece, the complete set comprises 24 pieces that are numbered 1 to 24.
Offered at Roseberys London (25% buyer’s premium) on March 24 as part of the sale titled Ted Few: The Idiosyncratic Eye were eight well-preserved pieces – a ‘tea for two’ including a tea pot and cover (no 7), two milk jugs of different sizes (no 10 and no 11) and a sugar bowl (no 23).
Today they are among the most desirable wares made by the Surrey pottery and – like the Beatrix Potter wares – have obvious crossover collecting appeal.
Estimated at £300-500, the lot made £950. Rarely does the full set appear for sale, although back in 2009 a near-complete set (missing only one of the 24 pieces) sold for £2500 at Brightwells in Leominster.