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

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Latest Majolica Reproductions

For any collector or dealer it's important to keep up to date on the latest majolica reproductions.
Some are better than others. Most are not marked and intend to deceive. 

Here are a few I've seen online recently.

As I have said many times in the past, there's nothing wrong with buying a reproduction so long as you know that is what you are buying. My problem is always with those who choose to misrepresent the article as an antique, like the "marked Etruscan" asparagus mug. 
If you know what is available in the marketplace you're in a better place to make an informed purchase.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Celebrity Majolica: Whoopie Goldberg's Majolica

On September 27, the Dallas Heritage Auction Gallery will offer for sale a large group of decorative arts belonging to actress Whoopie Goldberg.

Among other things, the auction will include Limoges and Fiesta dinnerware, silver and McCoy as well as four pieces of majolica.

For more information on the auction go to the Heritage Web site or for a complete listing go to the Live Auctioneers online listing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rare or Desirable?

Recently a dealer contacted me about a piece of majolica I had described in this blog as "very rare." He wanted to know if this "rarity" translated to a very high monetary value for said piece. I had to admit to him that I didn't think it did.

"How can that be", he asked.

I told him that rarity does not always translate to desirability. The distinction needs to be made when one appraises the value of a piece.

It is desirability that establishes the price of a piece, not the rarity. Where the rarity of a piece of majolica may influence the demand for it, there are many pieces that are in great supply that still command high prices. In a situation like that. you're talking about relative rarity in relation to demand, not true rarity.

Take, for example, the classic George Jones strawberry server.

As far as a piece of majolica goes this server is pretty common. It's not at all unusual to see several offered for sale at a large antiques fair. Still, the piece demands a price of about $1,000 because many people desire it as part of their collections.

Now compare that to this extremely rare piece of Etruscan Majolica.

There are only a few of these known to exist, probably less than six, yet at a recent auction this piece brought only $600. That's because fewer people collect Etruscan Majolica so the demand is simply not there.

Doesn't seem fair does it, but there's nothing fair about the marketplace.
It is simply supply and demand.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Majolica Classics: Minton Majolica Oyster Plates

Imitated by many yet matched by none, the Minton six well oyster plate is the standard against which all others are compared.

Made in a variety of different colors, the turquoise plate is the most commonly found of the colors and usually the least expensive for the collector.

 The most sought after plates in the series, however, are in other colors. The most expensive color is also the rarest, yellow.

Other colors in great demand are the cobalt, pink, lavender and malachite.

The malachite plates are made from two colors of slip covered with a tranparent green glaze. This gives the plates the appearance of being made of carved malachite. 

Beginners sometimes confuse the malachite plates with the mottled plates. The latter are not made from different colors of slip but instead two different colors of glaze applied to a regular earthenware base.

On very rare occasions Minton added hand painting, monograms or other custom adornments to their plates. These are quite beautiful and extremely difficult to find.

The reverse of all the Minton plates is usually turquoise or green and all are marked on the reverse with the usual Minton marks. With a variety of copies made by smaller potteries around the same time, these marks are a guaranteed way of identifying the Minton examples.The plate below bears the cypher for 1873.

Minton made other oyster servers as well.
The rarest is certainly their Pallisy style oyster plate which is almost never seen.

Other oyster plates had fish shaped wells, wicker grounds and wells in a variety of different shapes, colors and combinations. 

The company also made revolving tiered oyster servers in two sizes.
With the prices of most majolica having dipped significantly in the past few years, Minton's oyster plates have remained in demand among collectors. They remain a good value for the investor and a beautiful addition to any collection.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Majolica Spotlight: Banks & Thorley Bamboo

Banks and Thorley as a pottery didn't last very long–they were only in operation from 1875 to 1878–but they left their mark on majolica with their beautiful Bamboo pattern.
Potted at the height of the Aesthetic Movement, the pattern was a response to the influence of Japanese tastes on Western decorative arts. It is a large, fully realized pattern that must have been very popular in its day judging from the number of pieces that survive today.

The pattern is really a very simple one. The ground of all the pieces is a golden basketweave against which are displayed multicolor bamboo fronds. The handles are usually brown.

The pattern is available with several different size pitchers of two different types. The first, which is the most common, is pictured above. It has a smooth rim and a spout. The second has an unusual ragged top rim. This type was made without a spout.

 The pattern came with both a teapot and tea kettle.

There are also two different cream pitchers, two different sugar bowls and two types of teacup. The one type has the brown reed handles of the other pieces while the other has delicate butterfly handles.

 In addition the pattern came with the usual other pieces: butter dish, butter pat, dessert plates, dessert stand and basket.

Most of the pieces wear an applied English Registration Mark on the base indicating the pattern was registered by Banks & Thorley on May 17, 1876.

Bamboo is a good pattern for the beginning majolica collector . Pieces are relatively inexpensive, available and very decorative. A complete teaset is a thing of great beauty.