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The enigmatic pattern book, now owned by the Dorman Museum in Linthorpe within the borough of Middlesbrough, contains over 900 pencil drawings of designs for the Ault Pottery of Swadlincote, Derbyshire.

Executed in a number of different hands, perhaps by junior factory workers, up to 40-50 of the designs are thought to be for Dresser pots - some of them well-known models, but others unknown in ceramic form.

They include designs for the 'Father of Industrial Design' made for Linthorpe Pottery (closed in 1890) and those subsequently produced for William Ault in the period 1892-96.

Two intriguing trade cards titled Ault Faience  inserted into the book with a rusting paperclip have ink insciptions: one reading £102.5.9 Dr Dressers shapes, the other carrying a list of more than 40 Ault model numbers alongside prices - perhaps the sums charged by Dr Dresser for his design skills.

Gill Moore, curator at the Dorman Museum, understands the folder was saved from a skip in the 1960s by an employee of Pearsons of Chesterfield, a parent company of the Ault firm that ultimately closed in 1975.

He owned it for close to 50 years before contacting the museum around 18 months ago. A sale was agreed at a price in the region of £2000.

New Direction

The pattern book will be unveiled at DresserFest, organised by the Christopher Dresser Society, Teesside University and the Dorman Museum. During a series of exhibitions, gallery tours, lectures and workshops, taking place from July 2-4, society members will be encouraged to debate its purpose and significance.

Paul Denison, a Teesside University lecturer and chair of the Christopher Dresser Society, said: "This pattern book for Ault really takes research on Dresser in a new direction. It raises the possibility that his body of work is more extensive than is currently known and that items previously not attributed to him, can now be confirmed."

The Dorman Museum's Christopher Dresser Gallery, which opened in 2014, houses an important collection of Dresser's work for key Victorian manufacturers of furniture, metalwork, ceramics, glass, textiles and wallpaper. Close to 160 works comprised the personal collection of erstwhile London decorative arts dealer Harry Lyons, purchased with the aid of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and the V&A Purchase Grant Fund.

It is displayed alongside the largest public collection of Linthorpe pottery.