Across 10 hours of bidding at Canterbury Auction Galleries (20% buyer’s premium), the contents of countless Victorian and earlier kitchens, dairies and grocers’ and butchers’ shops offered in 624 lots sold for £212,110 to competitors from the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and France.
The financial core of the sale was provided by a large group of 19th and early 20th century ceramic milk churns and pails, many of them transfer printed with lettering or vignettes of rural life.
Some were created for the city dairy companies, responsible for bringing fresh milk into urban Britain, that emerged in the Victorian era. These included the Pure Milk twohandled churn and cover produced for the Dairy Outfit Co of Kings Cross, London, that sold to a West Sussex buyer for £4000 and was pictured on the front page of ATG No 2489.
Pictured here are two more stand-out examples.
The 16in (40cm) blue-glazed and gilt pail with brass cover was produced for the Dairy Supply Co Limited. It caught the eye of Edward Barham, the owner of Hole Park, near Cranbrook, whose great-greatgrandfather was Sir George Barham, (1836-1913).
Barham, sometimes described as the father of the British dairying industry, founded the Express County Milk Company, later to become Express Dairies. When a cattle plague threatened London’s supply of milk in 1865, Barham transported fresh milk to London by rail to avert the crisis.
He created the Dairy Supply Co, supplying utensils for the dairy industry, based in premises built opposite the British Museum in 1888.
Hole Park Country House and Gardens, which is open to the public, wanted the pail for display in its Coach House tea room, paying £2100 to secure the lot.
A US bidder in a south-eastern state paid £2600 for a suite of three banded Pure Milk pails printed in blue with a scrolling cartouche.
Measuring 15in (37cm) and 12in (30cm) across, they too were produced for the Dairy Outfit Co.