The 2ft ½in (61cm) plaque, painted in the Art Nouveau style with a scene from classical mythology within a border of fish and seaweed, was making a relatively swift return to the auction block. Back in April 2015 – shortly after its acquisition for just £20 at a boot fair – it had sold for £7000 (plus 20% buyer’s premium) at 1818 Auctions in Cumbria.
The estimate this time was £4000-6000.
The plaque, measuring bears an impressed Burmantofts Faience mark and is inscribed with the date 87 and the monogram LK for the decorator Leonard King. The additional painted ‘shell’ mark is thought to denote pieces made for a factory exhibition at Saltaire, timed to mark Victoria’s golden jubilee.
The price matches the record for the Leeds factory alongside a large Anglo-Persian style vase, again by Leonard King, sold in 2005 for £13,000 at Anderson & Garland in Newcastle.
Earlier this year Woolley & Wallis decorative arts specialist Michael Jeffery received a call out of the blue from the family of a recently deceased collector in the south of England. When asked to value over 700 pieces of Burmantofts faience for sale he required little encouragement. “I’m in the car I will see you soon”.
The Salisbury auctioneers offered the remarkable collection in a 300-lot single catalogue sale today (June 22) which proved a near sell-out.
The sale covered all aspects of the Leeds factory’s output including tiles, architectural panels and conservatory heaters plus myriad monochrome vases and grotesque fantasies.
Jeffery described it as “one of, if not the finest, collections of Burmantofts put together by a private individual”.
The buyer’s premium at Woolley & Wallis was 22%.