Clarice Cliff Jazz Age series Musicians figure, model no 435, £6800 at Fieldings.

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It is now 21 years ago, in May 2003, that the auction record for Clarice Cliff was sent tumbling when a May Avenue pattern charger sold for £34,000 at Christie’s South Kensington. They were heady days.

However, the highest bid at auction in the collecting field for some years was posted on March 14 when, as reported on the front page of ATG No 2636, a charger in the Applique Etna pattern sold for £18,500 at Fieldings (26% buyer’s premium) in Stourbridge.

It had last sold at Christie’s South Kensington in November 1994 for £11,000 (£12,100 including premium).

Electric atmosphere

Fieldings director and Clarice Cliff guru Will Farmer - who recently sold his 10,000th piece of AJ Wilkinson’s Bizarre ware after 16 years of biannual sales - said the March selection of 300 lots offered in the West Midlands was “one of the most significant offerings of her work in decades”. The total hammer was over £200,000.

“For me it was without doubt the Clarice Cliff sale of my career,” he added. “We had a full room, something seldom seen post Covid, and the atmosphere was electric.

“I think we are seeing Clarice back where she was 30 years ago, the star of the show from the Deco years. Everyone said it felt like the old heyday of Clarice in the 1990s and the groundbreaking sales held at CSK.”

While the majority of pieces were sold to UK collectors, some pieces will be travelling to Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada.

A core of the sale was a series of tea-for-two breakfast sets in the geometric shapes such as Stamford and Bonjour - many of them bought by the vendor at Christie’s sales in the early 90s.

Returning to market for the first time in 30 years, a Stamford tete a tete in the abstract crescent pattern known as Swirls made £5300. One of only two sets known, it had sold for £2200 at Christie’s in November 1992.


Clarice Cliff Applique Windmill and Stamford shape tea for two set, £6600 at Fieldings.

Another in Applique Windmill - a stylised landscape with a blue windmill below an orange sky - had some slight damage and took £6600 while a matched Tennis pattern set took £7200. The teapot, milk and sugar had been bought by the vendor for £2200 at Christie’s in November 1991 with the two cups, two saucers and a side plate added later.

A c.1933 Stamford shape teapot, milk and sugar in May Avenue, with its design of red roof cottages, blue bushes and black spade form trees, that had been bought at CSK in February 1991 for £2200, returned to bring £6100.


Stamford shape teapot, milk and sugar in May Avenue, £6100 at Fieldings.

Folk art

Among the most striking Clarice Cliff designs was the Bonjour shape tea-for-two in the Krafton pattern based on stylised Slavic folk figures in national dress.

Created by the textile and ceramics designer Eva Crofts, it was made for the 1934 ‘Modern Art for the Table’ initiative - the collaboration between the artistic community and the decorative arts industry that debuted at Harrods in Knightsbridge. Cliff was the project’s art director with AJ Wilkinson producing the earthenware, Foley the porcelain and Stuart & Sons the glass.

Some 28 artists and designers including Vanessa Bell, Graham Sutherland, Roger Fry, Dod Procter and Paul Nash submitted designs but the Laura Knight Circus range is one of the few that entered general production.


‘Modern Art for the Table’ tea for two set designed by Eva Crofts, £2900 at Fieldings.

Although the teapot to this set is restored, it is one of only a couple of complete teasets in Crofts’ Krafton design that is recorded. Last sold at CSK in November 1992 when it made £500, it took £2900 at Fieldings.


Sunray (Night and Day) charger, £5600 at Fieldings.

In addition to Applique Etna, five other 18in (45cm) chargers included one of only two known in the Sunray (Night and Day) pattern (£5600) while the offering of some 20 of the signature 12in (30cm) Lotus jugs was topped by examples in Green House (£4400), Marigold (£6600) and Chinese Lanterns (£4200) patterns.

Only a few Lotus jugs are known carrying the popular c.1930 Marigold design with its mottled cobalt Inspiration-style ground (the price paid here was significantly more than the £3850 bid for another at John Taylors in Louth in April 2022).

Chinese Lanterns is an apparently unique pattern from c.1929. This piece was originally found in New Zealand some 20 years ago.

All that jazz


Clarice Cliff Jazz Age series Dancing Couple figure, model no 433, £7000 at Fieldings.

The West Midlands sale included two of the rarely seen Age of Jazz figures. There are five figures from this 1930 series that evoked the work of the French ceramicist Robert Lallement and the well-known series of jazz musician figures made for the Parisian retailer Robj.

The Daily Sketch reported at the time that: “Listening to the jazz music on the wireless after dinner inspired Clarice Cliff’s new dancing figures.”

A group modelled as two musicians, one playing the drums, the other the saxophone (model no 435), had been broken and professionally restored but made £6800 (estimate £1500-2000). See picture top.

In better condition, an 8in (19cm) high figure of a dancing couple, he in tails, she in an orange dress (model no 433), brought £7000 (estimate £3000-5000).

Acquiring all five figures is a logistical and financial challenge that few collectors achieve.

In March 2018 an American private collector bid £15,000 at Woolley & Wallis for the largest and rarest figure in the group: a 9in (22cm) table centrepiece modelled as two pairs of dancers (model no 434) and £9000 for the figure (model no 436) of a pianist and a banjo player, with some restoration.

More recently, in October 2023, the Salisbury firm sold another (professionally restored) example of the Dancing Couple for £7000. Discovered, albeit broken in half and covered in soil, by an Essex vendor when clearing a relative’s house, it was understood to have been found while digging in the garden. A truly Bizarre tale.