A c.1763-65, John Wilkes creamware mug, probably Leeds – £4800 at Woolley & Wallis.

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Two examples from the Robin Simpson sale at Woolley & Wallis are illustrated here.

The radical reformer John Wilkes, journalist, rake, exile, duellist, MP and Lord Mayor of London, was a great favourite of the general public. Best of four Wilkes items at Woolley & Wallis on September 8 was a 7½in (19.5cm) wide,1763-65 creamware teapot, probably Leeds.

It was inscribed Wilkes & Liberty and to the reverse 45, referring to Issue 45 of Wilkes’ newspaper The North Briton in which he attacked King George’s speech at the Opening of Parliament. Only Parliamentary Privilege kept him out of jail.

‘Wilkes, Liberty and Number 45’ became the popular chant of his followers.

It was popular, too, at this auction where the extensively restored mug estimated at £1500-2000 sold at £4800.

Core issues 


A c.1763 Cider Act teapot – £7000 at Woolley & Wallis.

In an unlikely form, considering the subject, the 6½in (16.5cm) wide, c.1763-66, creamware pot and cover, inscribed No Cyder Act and, to the reverse, Apples at Liberty, was part of an effective campaign.

Lord Bute’s 1763 Cider Bill to raise money for the Seven Years War was so unpopular that he had to resign and the act was repealed in 1766.

Although the style of painting has long been associated with the Leeds workshops of Robinson and Rhodes, recent excavations in Staffordshire unearthed similar styles there. Whatever its origins, the pot did well, more than tripling mid hopes to sell at £7000.