Henry Sandon with a dish commissioned by his three sons featuring Ozzie the Owl. Ozzie was a 17th century slipware owl brought along to an Antiques Roadshow event\ in Northampton in 1990 which Sandon loved. The dish was designed by Sally Tuffin and made for Sandon by Dennis Chinaworks. 

Image: Sandon family.

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Sandon, an acknowledged authority on Worcester porcelain and a specialist across all areas of ceramics, became familiar to millions of viewers after joining the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow in 1979 alongside his great friend Arthur Negus. He was one of the programme’s longest-serving experts.

His son John Sandon, who is also a ceramics expert and a former Bonhams’ specialist, said that his father became like a “favourite uncle” to those who tuned in each week. He confirmed his father had died peacefully at a care home in Malvern, Worcestershire, on Christmas day.

London dealer Errol Manners told ATG: “Henry was one of the great ambassadors for our subject, his enthusiasm was palpable, and his knowledge was deep and based on years of observation. He had that rare knack of being able to transmit his passion for ceramics and to enthrall such a wide audience.”

Fellow ceramics specialist Brian Haughton, who runs a gallery on London’s Duke Street and founded The International Ceramics Fair & Seminar, said: “He added greatly to our academic world and, indeed, without him the world of Worcester ceramics would not be what it is today. His knowledge and expertise was amazing and he will be missed greatly.”

Charles Dawson, former president of English Ceramic Circle described Sandon as “a giant among ceramicists”. He added: “He always had time for people, particularly beginner collectors, and he made them feel very special.”

Artistic family

Henry Sandon (1928-2023) was born in London into an artistic family which had its own orchestra. He originally embarked on a musical career, coming to Worcester to sing in the cathedral choir, before teaching at the Royal Grammar School, conducting a choral society and singing with the BBC Midland Singers.

At that time he developed an interest in archaeology and helped conduct a major excavation in Worcester. The finding of early pottery developed his interest in ceramics and he soon began studying under the famous English craftsman potter Geoffrey Whiting.

“Once in Worcester I discovered ceramics everywhere”, said Sandon last year when his remaining collection was consigned to auction at Chorley’s. “I dug up Roman and Medieval pots in my garden by the cathedral… which led me to attend local auctions and antiques shops filled with Worcester porcelain.”


A toby jug in the form of Henry Sandon by Staffordshire maker Kevin Francis Ceramics. Estimated at £50-100, it sold for £550 as part of a lot of four items at Chorley’s auction of the Henry Sandon collection in April 2023.

He was appointed curator of the Dyson Perrins Museum at the Royal Worcester Factory in 1967, a position he held until 1982. At the time the company was moving to larger premises and the original 18th century site became available for excavation. The results caused the rewriting of books about early history of Worcester ceramics and Sandon’s book about this period is now regarded as indispensable.

“In 1967 the museum needed a new curator and my enthusiasm got me the job that changed my life”, he said.

“I learnt the history of Worcester porcelain from scratch, helped by wonderful mentors, three of whom gave me the same advice: Jim Kiddell from Sotheby’s, the great collector Dr Bernard Watney and my dear friend Geoffrey Godden all told me that the best way to learn about ceramics was to form a study collection. It didn’t matter that I could only afford damaged examples of the early pottery I coveted. I knew it was important to buy as much as I could and to hold it and live with it.”

As well as his many appearances on TV (not just Antiques Roadshow but plenty of others such as Going for a Song, This Is Your Life and Songs of Praise), Sandon wrote many books about Worcester as well as other aspects of ceramics. He also became a well-known international lecturer, speaking extensively in the US including at the Metropolitan Museum and the Smithsonian Institute.

Sandon sold part of his collection 40 years ago when he went to Canada as the director of The George Gardiner Museum in Toronto. In April last year he sold another tranche at Chorley’s after moving into a care home. The auction comprised 1000 items across 380 lots – a full report appeared in ATG no 2593.

Following his death, numerous tributes appeared including many on social media – a selection of which appears below.

However, a description of Sandon that appeared in the 1982 catalogue for The International Ceramics Fair & Seminar would seem to sum him up perfectly: “He is capable of holding an audience riveted for hours with stories of potters and their lives, able to make the production of a pot come to life and present the making of ceramics in a human and amusing way.”

Full obituary of Henry Sandon

A much-loved expert

Charles Dawson, former president of the English Ceramic Circle:

“Henry Sandon was a giant among ceramicists. He was a friend of the English Ceramic Circle (ECC). He opened our ECC Seminar with a wonderful welcome at the Worcester Royal Porcelain Museum a few years ago. He always had time for people, particularly beginner collectors, and he made them feel very special. He wrote hundreds of charming letters to people asking questions about their Worcester pots when he was curator at the Worcester Royal Porcelain Museum.

"Henry wrote the first book on Flight & Barr Porcelain in 1978, and he kindly wrote the foreword to my recent book on Worcester Flight & Barr Porcelain (”

London dealer Brian Haughton:

“Henry Sandon added greatly to our academic world and indeed without him the world of Worcester ceramics would not be what it is today. His knowledge and expertise was amazing and he will be missed greatly.

“When Anna and I started the first International Ceramics Fair & Seminar at The Dorchester Hotel in 1982, Henry was one of the international lecturers that year. He was also an honorary adviser to the 1982 International Ceramics Fair & Seminar.”

On Instagram

Gloucestershire auction house Chorley’s (which sold the Henry Sandon collection in April 2023):

“We were saddened to hear of the death of Henry Sandon who has been a crucial figure in creating enthusiasm for antiques throughout the world. Henry has been part of our history for several decades and his joy and infectious thrill for ceramics have inspired many – his expertise and enjoyment of antiques will be truly missed.”

On Twitter

Philip Serrell @PhilipSerrell:

Sad news – a man who did so much to promote antiques generally and pots from our local factory died on Christmas morning. RIP Henry Sandon.

Marc Allum @Marc_Allum:

So sad to hear of the passing of one of the giants of antiques – dear Henry Sandon. His jollity and incredible knowledge made him a joy to work with. A legend!

Museum of Royal Worcester @TheMoRW

It is with great sadness we share the news that Henry Sandon passed away on Christmas morning. Our curator and then patron of the museum for many years, a much-loved expert who shared his knowledge and enthusiasm for pots and Worcester in person, in books and on TV. Sorely missed.

Adam Partridge @apauctioneers

Sad news, a true legend. RIP Henry Sandon.