The four high sought-after pieces have come to auction from a single collection and all date from 1878-98. They will be offered as individual lots at Phillips’ Design evening sale in the Big Apple on December 13 with a combined estimate of $530,000-800,000.
The pieces are priced right at the top end of the market for the idiosyncratic, grotesque salt-glazed stoneware material from the Southall factory.
Phillips hold the current record for Martinware when a bird jar modelled as Benjamin Disraeli from 1889 sold for $190,000 (£126,670) in New York in December 2015.
The top lot from the current consignment is the ‘grinning crab’ figure estimated at an unprecedented $250,000-350,000. It was formerly part of the celebrated John Scott collection sold by the Fine Art Society in 2014.
Should it find a buyer, it will take the market to a new level.
Below are details of the four lots on offer at Phillips. The viewing in London runs at the firm's Berkeley Square premises until November 9.
ATG’s detailed guide to Martin Brothers pottery can also be viewed here.
1. Grinning crab
This ‘colossal and extraordinary grotesque grinning crab’ produced by R. W. Martin & Brothers in June 1880 is seemingly a one-off piece. ATG could find no record of another selling at auction. Measuring 18in (46cm) wide, it is estimated at $250,000-350,000.
2. Caricature bird jar
Another expensive lot from the collection offered at Phillips is this bird jar and cover, formed of a caricature of the barrister and politician, Sir Edward George Clarke QC – who represented Oscar Wilde in his libel trial against the Marquess of Queensberry. Dating from February 1898, it is estimated at $150,000-250,000.
3. Aquatic bird jar
This ‘massive mendiculus aquatic bird jar and cover’ dates from January 1883 and measures 21in (54cm) high. It is estimated at $100,000-150,000 at the Phillips sale.
4. Mantle clock
This unusual subject for the Martin Brothers – a mantle clock from January 1878 – measures 2ft 5in (73cm) high and is estimated at $30,000-50,000 at Phillips sale in New York.