The market for 19th century porcelain teawares and dessert services, which were a ceramic collecting staple in the 1970s and 80s, has softened considerably and prices for such pieces often cost no more or even less than they did half a century ago.
However, occasionally a focus on a specific factory of quality and, crucially, one with decorative appeal, can buck the trend.
This was the case at Halls (24% buyer’s premium) on September 20 when the Shrewsbury auction house offered the late Michael Berthoud’s collection of porcelain by H&R Daniel.
The Staffordshire firm was relatively short-lived, running for just 24 years from 1822-46, but Henry Daniel, an entrepreneurial character who had worked as a gilder and enameller at Spode, produced pieces of a quality to match the best products of his Staffordshire competitors (so much so that Spode actually purchased pieces that the fledgling factory had decorated on Spode’s own blanks).
Henry entered into partnership with his son Richard two years after he started his venture, producing porcelain and earthenwares, and Richard carried on the business for six years after his father’s death before it ceased trading.
An early patron of significance was the Earl of Shrewsbury.
He placed several orders for services with the factory for his refurbishment of Alton Towers in 1827, a tradition continued by his nephew who inherited the title and his daughter Mary Talbot, who ordered her own service on the occasion of her marriage.
Berthoud, a dealer and collector, was one of the main people responsible for a re-evaluation that put the Daniel factory back on the map through his researches and his 1980 book H&R Daniel 1822-1846, which is still a standard work on the subject.
Since then an active collecting society, The Daniel Ceramic Circle or DCC, (formerly the Daniel Collectors Circle) has been established which pursues research on the factory. Berthoud also amassed a huge collection of Daniel porcelain and it was this that was up for auction at Halls in the form of over 300 pieces.
Many of them were illustrated in Berthoud’s book or in the DCC’s subsequent 2009 publication by B Smith and B Beardmore: H & R Daniel (1822-1846) Identifying Daniel Porcelain Tablewares.
Offered in 90 lots, the collection raised £12,000.
“The sale result proved that the market for nicely decorated teaware from this period of production is still buoyant,” said Caroline Dennard, Halls’ ceramics, glass and militaria specialist. “People are collecting for decorative rather than purely academic elements.”
The ensemble included a few larger ornamental items such as vases, pastille burners, comports and some dessert services but the majority of the items were teawares including some individually lotted cups and saucers.
This worked in the sale’s favour as, with demand very much focused on the decorative element, it was these smaller pieces that were most in demand.
“We had a lot of interest from private collectors who were not necessarily Daniel collectors,” noted Dennard.
These were people interested in teawares with floral decoration and elements such as the ‘daisy wheel’ raised feet.
Dennard said there was also quite a lot of overseas participation in the sale including from Denmark, Thailand, Turkey, the US and Canada.
And also some interest came from members of the Daniel Ceramic Circle for whom Halls organised a private view and who were presumably filling gaps in their own collections.
In all, just under a quarter of the lots failed to get away and Dennard said it was the more academic pieces that struggled or items with condition problems.
Prices for the majority of lots were more or less in line with Halls’ estimates but there were occasions where bidding dramatically outstripped predictions such as the maroon ground C scroll cup and saucer and the C scroll trio that made £1100 and £1500 respectively.
They are pictured here along with a selection of other lots from the collection.