Delft charger of c.1690 decorated with Adam and Eve – $9000 (£7090) at Pook & Pook’s sale on September 29-October 1.

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Among the many different categories of art and antiques included in the latest Americana and International auction held by Pook & Pook (23% buyer’s premium) was a group of early English delftwares.

They were part of the collection of the late Dudley Irwin (Dic) and LaDonna S (Donnie) Catzen of Maryland, just one of the properties in this large multi-discipline sale staged on September 30-October 1 in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

The Catzens were the proprietors of Englemeade House, purchasing and selling primarily American furniture and decorative arts. Their love of antique furniture, art and ceramics in particular spanned nearly the entirety of their marriage of almost 60 years.

Just over 30 pieces of delftware featured among the 100-odd lots of Catzen property in this auction, most of them 17th or 18th century in date, of English manufacture and including plates, bowls, bottles and the odd specialised vessel such as a puzzle jug.

The most expensive pieces were a group of late 17th century polychrome delft chargers including several with blue dash borders and/or royal portraits, long a favourite category among collectors of this type of tin glazed earthernware.

Top lot was a charger decorated with Adam and Eve pictured either side of the Tree of Knowledge with a serpent entwined along the trunk. This 13¼in (34cm) diameter piece, dated to c.1690, easily outpaced a $2000-3000 guide to take $9000 (£7090).


Blue dash tulip charger of c.1690 – $4200 (£3135) at Pook & Pook.

The most expensive of the blue dash chargers in the property was decorated with a bold tulip design, a popular motif on these wares. It was dated to c.1690, measured 14in (36cm) in diameter, had a provenance to the UK ceramics dealer Alastair Sampson and realised $4200 (£3135).


Blue dash charger with a portrait thought to depict William III – $3200 (£2390) at Pook & Pook.

Royal portrait pieces included a 13¾in (35cm) blue dash charger of c.1690 painted with a figure thought to depict William III and a 13½in (34cm) diameter blue dash charger of c.1710 depicting a full-length portrait of the Duke of Ormond with the initials DO that was formerly in the Christopher Sykes Collection, sold at Christie’s in 1990, then with Joe Kindig.

Both pieces had damage: the first, which had been broken in two and restored, took $3200 (£2390), while the second had been broken in two and stapled, and sold for $4000 (£2985).


Plate painted with half-length portraits of William and Mary – $4000 (£2985) at Pook & Pook.

Smaller pieces included an 8½in (21cm) diameter plate dated to the late 17th century painted in blue with half-length portraits of William and Mary that realised $4000 (£2985) and a plate of the same size featuring typical decoration of a Chinese figure seated in a stylised landscape, but which had the desirable bonus of being dated 1699 and inscribed EH. It sold for $1400 (£1045), three times the estimate.


Delft plate with Chinese inspired decoration dated 1699 – $1400 (£1045) at Pook & Pook.

Prices for the most sought-after classes of English delftware such as chargers and inscribed and dated pieces have softened from their peak in the late 20th century but more standard examples have always been much more affordable.


Group of four mid-18th century delft plates ranging in size from 8-9in (20-23cm), the largest with a bianco sopra bianco border sold for $300 (£225) at Pook & Pook.

The Catzen property included a number of standard pieces that could be picked up at modest three-figure prices. They included the group of four plates with Chinese inspired decoration in blue ranging from 8-9in (20-23cm) in diameter pictured here that sold for $300 (£225).

Something completely different...

In a sale that ranged widely over fine art, furniture, silverware, ceramics and folk art the most expensive item proved to be a screen print by Andy Warhol. The artist’s Mickey Mouse, a 3ft 2in (96cm) square colour screen print with diamond dust from his Myths series, signed lower left and numbered 147/200, realised $160,000 (£119,400) against a guide of $80,000-120,000.