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Since these erstwhile Wedgwood enthusiasts first succumbed to the charms of Worcester in the early 1970s, they have been passionate collectors of the factory’s wares, amassing well over 1000 pieces.

Just how passionate is vividly conveyed in Bonhams’ catalogue introduction for this first auction by Henry Sandon (the man who weaned the Zorenskys off Wedgwood and onto Worcester). He was with them at Sotheby’s when the first part of Tom Burn’s celebrated Rous Lench collection of English ceramics was sold in 1986 and recalls their behaviour when the English porcelain came up in the afternoon: “...the Bow, Chelsea and Girl-in-a-Swing pieces went their merry way and I sensed Jeanne getting more and more wound up,” he said. “Then came the Worcester and I have never seen anything like it. Can you picture a lioness attacking its prey, fighting off anything that stood in her way, the lion crouching nearby keeping the score on a calculator, translating the pounds she was spending into dollars, finally croaking out ‘no more, no more!’

But still she went on, getting nearly every piece she had set her heart on; when beaten by a phone bid or a dealer in the room the lioness girded up her loins and prepared for the next battle.”

While their high-profile buying means that many ceramics dealers and collectors would have met the Zorenskys, plenty more will be familiar with their collection through its publication by the Antique Collectors’ Club as Worcester Porcelain 1751-1790, a scholarly catalogue by Simon Spero and John Sandon.

Now the Zorenskys have decided to sell the collection at auction over a period of time, with the first instalment to be offered on March 16.

What makes the Zorensky collection so noteworthy is its comprehensiveness. As Simon Spero explains, “Every aspect of First Period Worcester is represented. Perfect condition was a favoured priority but not a prerequisite for purchase. No rarity was ever rejected on grounds of damage.”

This breadth and the long duration of the Zorenksys’ enthusiasm for the factory also means that the collection isn’t bound by the margins of fashion. It ranges across the entire 18th century production span, taking in the currently less fashionable post-1760s wares as well as the early 1750s pieces that are top of today’s collecting poll.

So prospective buyers have plenty of choice in terms of style and price, ranging from as little as £100-150 up to several thousand, according to auctioneer John Sandon.

As with their sale of Bernard Watney’s mammoth collection, Bonhams’ aim is that any of the Zorensky dispersals should contain a complete cross-section of the entire collection. Accordingly, this first sale will feature examples of blue and white, transfer-printed, polychrome- and outside-decorated wares from the early 1750s right through to the 1780s. Our illustration, taken in the Zorenskys’ St Louis apartment, gives a snapshot of what part one has to offer.

Early rarities include the rare and Worcester ‘Scratch Cross’ coffee pot of c.1753-4 pictured far left and the rococo sauceboat of c.1754-6 in the centre. The coffee pot, from the HE Marshall collection, is unusually large at 9in (23cm) high, has restoration to the footrim and the cover and a crack by the handle and is estimated at £4000-6000. The sauceboat, with its flamboyant rococo shape inspired by contemporary silver and Meissen porcelain, and with a minute rim chip, is estimated at £4500-5500.

From the 1760s comes the splendid 111/2in (29cm) high pair of hexagonal outline covered vases,
shown right, decorated with kakiemon-style dragons (c.1765-68), which is estimated at £14,000-16,000, while the 1770s section includes the 51/4in (23cm) high covered milk jug (with crack to handle), pictured front right, with Sèvres-style decoration of green foliate garlands, estimated at £400-500.

From the blue and white offerings comes the very rare 21/2in (7cm) diameter capstan-shaped rare pounce pot of c.1772-5, shown front centre.

Initialled TS and with a chip to the underside of the foot and a minute rim nick this piece, formerly part of the Bridge House collection and of hitherto unknown pattern, is estimated at £2500-3500.

The small selection of figures include the rare 63/4in (17cm) group of canaries amongst blossom of c.1770, pictured front left, with typical minor losses and crack to base, estimated at £8000-12,000, while outside decorated wares include the impressive 131/2in (34cm) high blue ground vase, pictured back left, decorated with vignettes by Jefferyes Hamett O’Neale, one showing a riverscape, the other two brown bears. Dated to c.1770, this is a late example of the work of this outside decorator, best known for his celebrated fable scenes on early Chelsea, and is executed in a much bolder style. The vase, which is broken and restored and has some wear to the gilding, is estimated at £3500-4500.