The collection was formed over almost four decades by Prof Sir Frederick Edward Warner (1910-2010), one of the UK’s leading chemical engineers.
Warner had a longstanding enthusiasm for English delftware. His interest appears to have started in the early 1950s but collecting began in earnest in the ‘60s when, alongside his second wife Lady Barbara, he began buying mostly from London auction houses.
The bulk of the collection was formed during the ‘60s and ‘70s although it continued into the ‘80s, says W&W’s specialist Clare Durham.
This was a period when major collections of early English pottery came to the market and the Warner ensemble includes pieces from dispersals such as the FH Garner, Louis L Lipski and Sir Gilbert Mellor collections.
The 163 lots span three centuries of delftware from the main centres of production and encompass many collectable categories such as inscribed and dated pieces and ‘blue dash’ chargers, some with royal portraits. There is a broad range of values, from pieces guided at a few hundred up to several thousand pounds.
One of the earliest lots in the sale of the Warner collection of delftwares at Woolley & Wallis is a large initialled and dated oval London delft platter known as a fecundity dish acquired from Christie’s in 1975 for 500 guineas (pictured top).
Dated 1638 and initialled IN, it is moulded in high relief with a reclining figure of Venus surrounded by putti. Eight recessed wells to the rim are divided by fruit baskets and masks. Illustrated in Lipski and Archer’s book Dated English Delftware, the restored 19½in (50cm) dish has an estimate of £8000-12,000.
A purchase from Sotheby’s in 1966, this 13¾in (35cm) diameter blue dash tulip charger, above, probably made in Brislington c.1680, was formerly in the collection of Frederic Horace Garner. The chequered bowl from which the tulips issue is an unusual feature. It has an estimate of £1500-2000.
This London delft plate above, painted with two figures flying over a village landscape in a hot air balloon, represents the cross-Channel flight of Dr John Jeffries and Jean-Pierre Blanchard from Dover to Calais on January 7, 1785. The 9in (23cm) diameter plate, which has been broken in half and restuck, has an estimate of £100-200.