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Hammer highlights

Remarkably, its former owner was William Moorcroft.

The plaque was one of two sold by Hansons (22.5% buyer’s premium) in Etwall, Derbyshire, on February 21 for Moorcroft’s grandson who still resides in Stoke.

This connection doubtless helped their commercial fortunes, with this plaque sold at £2600 and another damaged example of Eve picking an apple from a serpent-entwined tree going to the same buyer at £1000.

The sale included some important archival material.

An extensive collection of photographic plates with Moorcroft designs for Macintyre and Liberty made £1100, while a Christy’s of London size 7 silk top hat, the headgear William Moorcroft chose for walking the factory floor in the early 20th century, sold at £840.

The top-seller of this decorative arts sale was a saltglazed stoneware chess set made by the Australian ceramicist John Dermer while artist in residence at Wedgwood in 1972. This large-scale set of conical forms – the kings stood 8in (20cm) high – appealed to both collectors of chess sets and aficionados of studio ceramics. With significant interest from internet and phone bidders, the set eventually settled at £5000.

Staunton in Taunton

Meanwhile, at Taunton saleroom Greenslade Taylor Hunt (22.5% buyer’s premium) on March 3 another chess set was also knocked down at £5000. The 19th century Jaques boxwood and ebony Staunton pattern set, with the white king stamped J. Jaques London, was estimated at £600-800.

This set comes in a 19th century Gothic Revival carton-pierre papiermâché casket and has the fragments of a signed label.

According to adverts in the Illustrated London News dated September 8, 1849, the first Jaques Staunton pattern sets were available in “the finest African ivory (5 guineas), boxwood and ebony (£1/15 shillings or club size (£2/5 shillings) and Wedgwood’s Carrara (£2/12/6 shillings)”.

These early Jaques sets were sold in two types of ‘packaging’ – dovetailed mahogany hingedtopped boxes with mortise locks and rounded corners and “the unique box of carton-pierre resembling richly carved ebony”.

Designed by Joseph L Williams, these Gothic Revival caskets are distinctive for their castellated corners and were available in three sizes.