Last Sunday’s episode of the long-running show, filmed at Leicester's Abbey Pumping Station, included a splendid Pilkington’s George and the Dragon charger decorated by William Mycock (1872-1950) with the legend Un Chevalier Sans Peur et Sans Reproche (The Knight without fear and Beyond Reproach).
One of these celebrated 19in (48cm) plaques, produced in a number of vibrant colourways in the 1910s, was used as the front cover illustration to Anthony Cross’ factory monograph Pilkington's Royal Lancastrian Pottery and Tiles published in 1980 alongside an exhibition held by British art pottery dealer Richard Dennis. The design is by Walter Crane, perhaps the best known of a group of leading designers employed by the factory to create this special range.
On the Roadshow, decorative arts specialist Eric Knowles estimated it would sell for around £12,000 - a fair valuation in the current market. While examples of this signature piece made more (over £20,000) a decade ago, the last on the market took £13,000 at Woolley & Wallis in November 2016.
Serendipity has it that another comes for sale next week as part of an exceptional collection of more than 30 pieces of Lancastrian lustre offered at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh on October 10.
It forms part of the contents of Kirkton House, a Regency manse near Montrose, restored to its former glory by the current owners to house a remarkable array of British art and design of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of the works were purchased in London from leading dealers such as The Fine Art Society, The Royal Exchange Gallery and Paul Reeves.
The charger, sold by Dennis as part of the 1980 exhibition, had formed part of the collection of John Scott dispersed by The Fine Art Society in 2014. As well as a full set of impressed factory marks, it has painted cyphers for the date (1910) and the decorator (Richard Joyce). The estimate is £10,000-15,000.
Another major piece in the collection - this time with a provenance to the landmark Harriman Judd Collection sold by Sotheby’s New York in 2001 - is a monumental vase, dated 1909, decorated with the figure of Apollo riding a chariot pulled by six horses through the clouds (estimate £4000-6000).
At (22in) 54cm high, it is one of the largest pieces ever produced by the factory in lustre glazes and carries the cypher of the Scottish ceramics designer Gordon Forsyth (1879-1952), a former art director of the Minton Hollins teleworks who later would tutor both Clarice Cliff and Susie Cooper. Forsyth’s daughter Moira Forsyth (1905-91) also decorated lustre wares at Pilkington’s.
Not everything by the factory is priced in four figures. More commonly encountered are smaller pieces of lustre - such as a 10in (25cm) vase decorated by William Mycock with an armorial device and the inscription Pro aris et focis (For God and country). It is estimated at £300-500. For those on smaller budgets it is also possible to find less ambitious Royal Lancastrian pieces, such as those made in a variety of monochrome matt glazes, at prices starting at around £50.
The collection at Kirkton House follows the arc of 19th century design history from the Gothic Revival through Aestheticism and the Arts & Crafts. Additional highlights form the sale include a copy of Gerald Leslie Brockhurst’s print masterpiece Adolescence and a series of key bronzes from the New Sculpture movement.