This was underlined at veteran specialist Andrew Hilton’s latest biannual sale at Historical & Collectable Auctions (17.5% buyer’s premium). Only one of the 564 lots – 405 Staffordshire potlids plus various commemorative ceramics – failed to sell at the November 17 sale near Reading which totalled £71,500.
All estimates were tempting, in line with Hilton’s policy, but the best-seller, a prattware lid showing the Bay of Naples, was a genuine surprise.
Estimated at £180-220, the lid sold at £2200 to an American collector well known to the rooms as a buyer of lids depicting bears, but this time it was a case of see Naples and buy.
Other top-sellers included How I Love to Laugh, a gold-rimmed portrait of a cheerful fat-faced fellow in red scarf and green jacket, which took £2100 (estimate £800-1600). Pet Rabbits, a mother and daughters outside a rustic cottage looking at the pets, made £2000 (estimate £400- 600), while Belle Vue Tavern with Cart, thought to be unique in depicting the cart without the usual Tatnell name, sold at a mid-estimate £1900.
“Top items are selling well,” said Hilton. “At the other end of the market, lids selling at £20 were making £40 in the 1970s [about £220 in today’s terms].
“As in most markets, there is a limited number of top-end collectors and when they have got all they want, the market sinks until newcomers arrive.”
Early stoneware on the rise
An area on the rise, says Hilton, is early stoneware such as the tankard shown above.
The 7in (18cm) tall vessel made at the Vauxhall factory c.1720 was applied with a moulded portrait medallion of Queen Anne flanked by animals, buildings and trees.
Crudely incised 3pt beneath the strap handle, it sold to a collector at a mid-estimate £1700.