Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

With the exception of Staffordshire figures, which were the subject of specialist sales at Christie’s South Kensington and Bonhams Knightsbridge in October early British pottery has been pretty thinly represented in London this autumn.

The 40 or so lots on offer here were accordingly probably the biggest selection prospective buyers had been offered for a while, although half of it consisted of a single-owner collection of Sadler-printed Liverpool delft tiles of 1750-80s date. Offered mostly as single tiles or groups of two or three, 16 of the 22 lots changed hands, all at three-figure prices.

The highest delft price and top price of the entire auction was the £9500 paid against a £10,000-15,000 estimate for a cracked, damaged and restored, early 18th century, 14in (35cm) diameter blue dash coronation charger painted with a portly rendition of George I or II.

Royal Worcester sometimes makes up a very substantial slice of these British sales, but in this particularly instance it was confined to just 15 lots. Success compensated for volume, however, with all bar one selling and some respectable individual results, such as the £8500 paid for the large 23in (58cm) high vase shown here, signed in full by John Stinton and painted with his trademark Highland cattle in a misty mountainscape.

It wasn’t just Bonhams who were enjoying a good reception for their Royal Worcester. The week before it was storming out of the saleroom at Sotheby’s Olympia, where a large 54-lot selection was the mainstay of the English portion of their sale, making up almost half the content. Only half a dozen lots failed to sell and the predominantly Midlands-based dealers who traditionally make up the main buyers in this field, found themselves largely outstripped by a determined influx of Australian and other private collectors who were prepared to leave estimates behind to secure the prizes, such as the maroon-ground vases decorated by Chair pictured here.

The success of this section must have been more than welcome for the auctioneers, because the Continental material on offer in this secondary sale on December 1 struggled even more than that offered at Bond Street the following day, keeping the selling rate by lot down to just 53 per cent.

Once again it was bidders’ resistance to the mid-range 18th and 20th century Meissen and Berlin that accounted for many of the failures.

Pictured below right are three typical offerings, each 5in (13cm) square, of c.1765 printed with, from the left: Rustic lovers by a Windmill, in sepia, (small rim chips) – £180; Peasants dancing in a landscape, in black (minor chips ) – £300 and Gentleman helping a lady over a stile, in an unusual grey-green tone and signed Sadler (surface abrasions only) – £340.