Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Amazement that one of the finest pieces of Welsh porcelain should have been hidden away for so long – it had emerged from a titled estate – soon gave way to debate in the collecting community about whether it was Swansea or Nantgarw in origin. Just because it was marked ‘Nantgarrw’ did not necessarily mean that it wasn’t made in Swansea and then taken for decorating to Nantgarw when Billingsley returned to the factory in 1817. But several connoisseurs were insistent that it was classic first period Nantgarw, one dealer citing “tension flaws in the vase, consistent with firing problems encountered at the factory until October 1814”.

Measuring 103/4in (27cm) high, the vase was painted to the interior with Billingsley’s ‘Catherine Wheel’ of foliage and had survived in near perfect condition. It was competed for by collectors to £30,000 (plus 15/10 per cent premium).