The vendor’s mother had worked for many years at Rie’s home and studio at 18 Albion Mews, Paddington.
Rie is best remembered for her bowl and bottle forms. However, during and after the war, to make ends meet, she made glass and ceramic buttons and jewellery for couture fashion outlets.
She was employed by her countryman Fritz Lampl (1892-1955), the founder of the Bimini Glass company in Vienna who, after fleeing Nazi Austria, relaunched his glass blowing venture in Soho under the name Orplid in 1938.
Its most popular line was a series of hand-made glass buttons, some fashioned using plaster casts of Roman coins supplied by the British Museum.
The two-piece plaster moulds offered by Chiswick Auctions (25/12% buyer’s premium), one with the number 315 and the other with Baltasar, both carry a carved ‘Bimini’ mark.
Chiswick’s design specialist Maxine Winning dates them to the 1940s or 50s.
“These are emotive objects that take us back to Lucie Rie’s first days in London as an émigrée. Fritz Lampl was an important figure in her life. Not only did he give her work in wartime London, but he encouraged her to experiment with making buttons in ceramics.”
The buttons themselves are keenly collected and bring substantial prices when they come to auction. The moulds, offered as two lots, took £4200 and £4000. Both sold to a buyer in Geneva.
Also gifted by Rie to her cleaner during years of employment at Albion Mews was a 3½in high x 7in diameter (9 x 18cm) diameter footed bowl dated to the early 1980s.
This example, a prime-period work in an arresting turquoise and manganese glaze, achieved £28,000 – selling to a collector in Tokyo.
Bowls of this kind are the most desirable of all Rie forms. Two fine examples were offered by Adam Partridge (20% buyer’s premium) in Macclesfield on March 24 – one of which brought a house record for studio wares.
This was a small porcelain footed bowl covered in uranium yellow glaze with manganese and bronze rim, made c.1957.
It sold for over 10 times its top estimate when, after a battle between two collectors, it hammered at £53,500 against an estimate of £3000-5000.
The date is relatively early for the type but specialist Jason Wood said the colour was the primary attraction.
The previous high for studio ceramics at Partridge was a Hans Coper hourglass vase sold for £48,000 in October 2016.
Made c.1970, a bowl with finely inlaid concentric rings stained with cobalt attracted £16,000 – double its higher estimate.