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

Saturday, December 10, 2016

2016 Year End Wrap Up

The year in majolica, and in fact for antique pottery in general, has continued the trend we've been seeing since the economic meltdown of 2008. Like everything else in this economy, the rich got richer at the expense of the middle and lower class and the majolica prices bear that out. What this means in majolica prices is that there continues to be a strong market for high end majolica. The rarest and most desirable brought strong prices at auction while everything else stayed the same or lost value. Where the highest prices still remained below the high of the Bush era, they still continued to retain a strong audience with prices starting to climb back to their peak.

The majolica of Lonitz and Massier continue to show growth in this post 2008 economy, perhaps making an economic correction for the lack of interest in these fine manufacturers' products before the meltdown. A $74k pair of Lonitz falcons were the stunner at Strawsers fall auction. Rare Minton remains strong too, bringing prices of $27k each for a complete Minton tête-à-tête and a mallard and hare terrine at the same auction. More commonly seen Minton has not been doing as well. The majolica of George Jones in particular has taken a bit of a hit this year. It seems like the George Jones mania that existed in the first decade of this century has cooled significantly. The name no longer automatically brings the astronomical prices it did just a couple of years ago. Of course there remains a strong market for the rare and unusual but the Jones name on a piece no longer guarantees a big payday for the seller.

Hugo Lonitz majolica Falcon figurals
Minton majolica teaset
Minton majolica mallard and hare terrine

Wedgwood, Holdcroft and Schiller still retain their prices of the past few years due to their own popular specialty markets though these have never had the kind of following once seen by Jones. High end Sarreguemines continues the growth we've been seeing in other french majolica over the past few years while the lower end maintains the same level it has seen over the past 15 years. For the American manufacturers, the Etruscan market has never really recovered from the flood of thousands of pieces of GSH majolica dropped into the market between 1997-2000 with the consecutive deaths of major Etruscan collectors Anna Stern and John Boraten. With the exception of very rare pieces and the consistently popular Shell pattern which always seems to sell, the market has bottomed out.

Among products, French animal pitchers still sell very well in spite of their continued new production in France. Animal humidors, having taken quite a tumble in the past couple of years, appear to have stabilized in price with most now selling in the $100-$150 range. Butter pat mania seems to have subsided as well with only certain rare examples bringing high prices. Match strikers too have tumbled with most now selling in the $100 range. Oyster plates have lost quite a bit of value in the past few years. Most can be purchased for about half of what they commanded in 2007. Though the name manufacturers still bring the highest prices certain patterns, such as the Lear sunflower have fallen dramatically now bringing only a small fraction of what they brought just a couple of years ago. The German/Bohemia animal bottles that seemed immune to the economy for so long have now also taken a fall on the retail market selling for about half of what they sold for just a year or two ago.

As it has over the past few years, our most popular blog posts at Glazed and Confused are the three that help to identify Minton, George Jones and Wedgwood majolica. Although our George Jones post last year at this time had twice as many views as the next most popular post, our post on identifying Wedgwood marks has increased in views dramatically making it a closer second. Of our posts from the past twelve months, the post of Majolica in the Media: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills swept away all others with twice the views of of the nearest competitor, our 2015 Year End Wrap up.

The composition of our audience this year has changed dramatically in the past couple of months. In the six years we have written our blog the Internet audience has persistently come from North America, Great Britain and other English speaking countries. An anomality we have observed in the past couple of months is a huge number of hits we are now receiving from Russia! Russia, in fact, has risen to the most visits from any other area in the world, outside of North America, even surpassing Great Britain. We have no way of accounting for this. We have never discussed Russian pottery. Considering the amount of Internet espionage known to have been conducted by Russia during the U.S election, this it is somewhat alarming. Of what interest could Russia possibly have in a majolica blog? We may never know.

So where does this lead us heading into 2017? With a new administration heading into office in Washington people are cautiously optimistic but we don't see any upswing in prices for the foreseeable future. Economic times are unstable and people are frightened of another economic collapse. Middle class investment in antiques will remain low until the income disparity between the rich and everyone else evens out. That seems unlikely to occur during the new administration as long as the dominating party continues to rely on outdated economic formulas of the past 40 years to resolve the issue.

As we said last year at this time, antique pottery across the board appears to have lost most of its investment value. It's also somewhat fallen out of fashion. Collect because you love it and can afford it and for no other reason.  We'll do our best to keep you informed in the meantime.

Note: Since we published this post two weeks ago, the hits from Russia have increased fourfold. The traffic from Russia is four times what we normally get from all other countries COMBINED! We have to assume it is most likely some nefarious bot scrolling around through Blogger trying to find a way into the system because, goodness knows, they aren't collecting majolica!

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