A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Majolica Desk Stands

Desk stands are something of an anachronism today. They certainly look nice, but since the days of ink wells is long in the past, they really don't serve much function. I was reminded of this today when I saw a George Jones desk stand that Michael Strawser was promoting through the MIS Facebook page.

The piece above is coming up for auction on Saturday afternoon at Strawser's Spring Majolica Auction. We will be watching its auction progress carefully. This is a rare piece that doesn't come up very often. The last time we can recall seeing one was at Strawser's 2006 Fall auction. At that time it brought $10,000 plus commission. No doubt the charming composition of the two birds sitting on their nests added to the value.

This is certainly an exception where desk stands are concerned. They generally do not sell well at all. The only other examples I've been able to track down that sold well are this TC Brown, Westhead, Moore & Co. inkwell with a dog's head shown below, and this Wedgwood Egyptian themed piece These would easily sell for $2000 plus on the retail market.

The majolica desk stands most commonly found today are simple ink wells most often disguised as an apple or a pear on a plate. These are sometimes sold with the fruit missing.
Many of these are of continental origin though from the examples I've seen I suspect that they were made in Great Britain as well.

Most other desk stands that I have seen are of continental origin, generally French. These pieces have very limited appeal to most collectors and rarely sell for more than $200 irregardless of their size and complexity.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Palmer Cox Brownie Majolica

Palmer Cox was a writer and illustrator famous for his children's books on the Brownies.  He debuted his Brownies in 1883 in St. Nicholas, a prominent children's magazine. The first collection of Brownie stories was published in 1887 as The Brownies, Their Book, which sold over a million copies. Cox would go on to publish 15 more Brownie books, and the stage play Palmer Cox's Brownies (1895) would run for nearly five years.

Cox licensed his Brownies to numerous companies selling a variety of products including dolls, figurines, puzzles, games, toys, china, soap and smoking paraphernalia. The most famous Cox merchandise was the Kodak Brownie camera, but Cox also merchandised to continental majolica manufacturers who created Brownies in the form of humidors (to compliment Brownie Smoking Tobacco), candlesticks, cream pitchers, banks, smoke stands and whiskey bottles.

Today Brownie majolica is really more popular with general Brownie collectors than with majolica collectors but it still commands respectable prices at specialty auctions.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Figural Majolica Egg Cups

One of the more unusual sub categories of collecting is those who collect egg cups. Those interested in looking for majolica egg cups will not be disappointed. We wrote about majolica egg baskets a few months ago (http://etruscanmajolica.blogspot.com/2010/08/majolica-egg-baskets.html). The egg cups I'm discussing today are figural egg cups.

The largest manufacturer of figural egg cups was the French/German firm of Utzchneider & Co., also known as Sarreguemines. I don't know how many different egg cup designs the company made but they made a diverse group with everything from chicks to camels.

These are very collectible and have an ardent group of admirers. They generally sell between $80 for the more common ones to $200 for the more exotic ones like the monkey.

Minton made an egg server in the form of a waterlily that is gorgeous and quite rare. The individual cups are much more commonly found than the plateau.

This European breakfast set by an unknown manufacturer is in the form of a hen surrounded by figural egg cup in the form of chicks and eggs.

Dreyfuss made this Swan egg server with chick egg cups.

We also have this Continental egg server with its feathered egg cups.

Finally we have a couple of egg cups by unknown, but most likely French manufacturers.