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English delftware is still one of the hottest areas in British ceramics, or its rare, early and preferably dated elements are (prices for the later,
post-1700, uninscribed standard wares are no more bullish than any other class of pot).

This piece plainly possessed all the requisite elements to fit the highly
desirable bill. It was a substantial early, (ie 17th century) piece in the shape of a 9in (23cm) wide posset pot, was hitherto unrecorded and was ascribed to a known pottery
(probably Southwark’s Pickleherring Quay). Moreover, it bore a date, 1651, a name, Edward Bedle and, best of all, an armorial for the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers, meaning that it was a prize piece whose history could be traced.

Christie’s had done some research into this piece with the help of the livery company’s archivist Wendy Hawke and had come up with a couple of possible candidates for the name on the pot. One was an Edward Bidle or Biddle, who was bound apprentice to one John Barlow on August 6, 1660 and made Freeman of the Company on October 15, 1667. There is also a record of an Edward Beadle being christened at St Botolph-without-Aldgate on October 5, 1651 (the date on the pot) although there is no proven link between this Edward Beadle and the Leathersellers’ Company.

Whatever its specific provenance, Delft pieces bearing the Company’s arms are rare: the only known examples being two polychrome caudle cups, one in the possession of the Leathersellers’ Company and the other in the British Museum.

Mindful of this, Christie’s £20,000-30,000 estimate was reasonably punchy but by no means out of line with what other delft cups have made recently here or elsewhere. It sold just inside that lower level, going to Gary Atkins, a specialist dealer in early pottery from Kensington Church Street, who was bidding for a client.