Collector's Corner

Anyone for Dessert

Written by Franklin Browns on 24th September 2019.

It is always a privilege when we are asked to auction a private collection which has been lovingly amassed over the years. As luck would have it our forthcoming sale on Saturday 28th September includes a timeless collection of stunning hand painted fruit pattered porcelain from the Royal Worcester factory.

Each piece can be considered a unique and individual work of art that is the outcome of years of training and expertise. The fruit painters of Royal Worcester trained for up to 7 years before producing their works for sale, mastering their craft to allow Royal Worcester to establish itself as the top manufacturer of hand painted bone china. Only the finest and most decorative shapes were chosen for the fruit painter's designs, highlighting the high regard in which they and their work were held.

The craftsmanship involved in creating each of the pieces can be better understood when considering the process of producing fruit painted porcelain. At each stage, the painter would build up the strength of the colour which gives the fruit the highly sought after three dimensional quality, adding depth and life to the painting. This level of commitment and skill to the craft ensured that only the elite painters were trusted with such delicate work. Each peice is signed by the artist who put so much time, effort and skill into each one-off piece.

Many fruit artists are represented within Saturday's collection and include items by two of the most popular painters, Harry Ayrton and John Freeman. Both worked as fruit painters for Royal Worcester throughout the early 1900s. with Ayrton and joining in 1920 and Freeman later in 1925. Ayrton was most skillful at fruit painting and this was his main focus throughout the 1920s. Freeman, 'The Fruit Machine' was nicknamed as such due to the speed with which he could produce pieces, yet always at the high quality expected. He progressed to become the most prolific painter of his time and became the senior painter in the men's painting room.

These hand painted pieces have retained all of their quality over the years and remain timeless and enduring. Of the eighteen mouthwatering lots it is hoped that there will be something to whet the appetite!

Lieutenant John Thornton - Liberton's Napoleonic Hero 1789-1870

Written by Franklin Browns on 17th October 2017.

Every now and again an object turns up at auction which is remarkable not for its value but for the story that it tells and its ability to bridge the gap between the past and the present.

Our forthcoming sale features a 19th century hardback exercise book entitled 'Trust of the late John Thornton Esq' together with a carte de visite album. Both items have been consigned by a Norfolk vendor in the hope that the amazing history associated with Mr Thornton can be returned to what he feels is its rightful place.

This local tale starts in 1807, when aged only eighteen, John Thornton a young man living in Haddington, joined the Army to embark upon an impressive military career, rising to position of Lieutenant. From here he was to take part in at least 14 battles throughout the Peninsular Wars until 1817 for at least 7 of which he was to be awarded campaign medals.

Of particular interest is his presence at the Battle of Waterloo where Napoleon's forces were famously defeated by the allied forces led by the Duke of Wellington

In 1813 Lieutenant Thornton was badly wounded at a major battle on the banks of the Nivelle River, an event which clearly had a lasting impact on his life. Upon his retirement, Lieutenant Thornton returned to Haddington to re-join his family before settling in Edinburgh's Liberton where he built his home - Nivelle Cottage, a buidling which remains to this day

Here, Lieutenant Thornton lived for the remainder of his life with his manservant, Thomas White, and housekeeper, Isabella Anderson. He rose to become a prominent and well-respected member of the Liberton community and upon his death in 1870 a commemorative plaque was created in his honour and remains in Liberton cemetry today. That Lieutenant Thornton chose to spend his life in Liberton indicates a strong connection to the place and it is fitting that he has been remembered in such a permanent way.

The pages of his Trust contain evidence of his generosity and are there for all to see; in his will he left £150 to both Thomas and Isabella alongside all furniture and linen and both remained living in Nivelle Cottage and kept it running. The Trust goes on to list a full inventory of his possessions, legacies and a record of his full financial affairs. Offered alongside the trust is a carte de visite which contains a photographic collection of Thornton's extended family and friends from Liberton. Together, they make for a fascinating lot of local interest which offers a unique insight into the life of a significant figure of Liberton's history.

The New Art

Written by Franklin Browns on 10th October 2016.

As Art Nouveau continues to be one of the most popular collecting fields in the world of Antiques & Collectables the demand for good examples grows. For some collectors Royal Worcester stands head and shoulders above all others, being a much loved British treasure and indeed a Royal favourite. By 1890 the company had gone from strength to strength and they had no trouble in their interpretation of the new style known as Art Nouveau. They introduced a new range of decorative items which were to become known as Blush Ivory. These stylish new wares were indicative of the future and represented a break with the past and were readily available to buy from the fancy Department Stores of the day, a past time which the British public took to their hearts!

In line with the Art Nouveau style these Parian wares came in a range of naturalistic and fluid forms. The bodies were glazed and painted with muted shages of soft apricot, sage and coral and were decorated with sprays of wild flowers, grasses and insects. All finished off with the most expensive of gilding. The shimmering result was a rendition in porcelain of nature at its most beautiful.

At the time two flower painters step to the fore for Royal Worcester and the designs of Edward Raby and Frank Roberts are much sought after today. As it was not customary for Royal Worcester artists to sign their wares prior to 1900 seeking out the designs of both designers can be a challenge. If lucky one may find an Edward Raby 'ER' monogram incorporated into a design but for the majority of wares determining the artist comes down to experience.

We are extremely fortunate to include a number of Royal Worcester Blush Ivory vases in our forthcoming sale. Patterns comprise thistles and flowers across a range of shape numbers to include 1893, 1398 & 2010 etc., so why not dip into the online catalogue and see if you can work out who painted these beauties!

Best of British

Written by Franklin Browns on 19th January 2016.

Royal Doulton can easily conjure up an image of beautiful porcelain ladies all dressed in their gowns and bonnets whilst adorning the mantle pieces of many a fine home. However with Royal Doulton being loved and collected the world over thousands of enthusiasts understand the true diversity, skill and craftsmanship involved in the creation of a Doulton figure. It is fair to say that Doulton did indeed produce a lot of fancy ladies but the HN Series which was named after Harry Nixon the Head of Doulton's Painting Department certainly showcased what was to become the best of the British ceramics industry throughout the 20th century. The figures and characters were designed by the very best designers and sculptors of the day including Charles J. Noke, Leslie Harradine and Peggy Davies and to date the HN Series reaches just over 5000 of some of the most colourful and well modelled characters from Literature, Entertainment and History.

The scope of Royal Doulton figures and collectibles is vast and varied with collectors easily able to focus a collection on a theme or a particular designer and those collections always represent craftsmanship of the highest quality. Sadly the ceramics industry is all but gone which really gives collectors the opportunity to fine tune a collection as resources become more scarce over time.

Our forthcoming sale on Saturday 23rd January includes a highly collectable range of Royal Doulton figures to include Marietta, HN 1446 designed by Leslie Harradine and The Organ Grinder, HN 2173 designed by M. Nicol, together with a small model of Cassim HN1231 (restored). Fine examples of Charles J. Nokes work feature too, with Jack Point HN2080, the central character in Gilbert and Sullivan's Yeoman of the Guard being offered for sale along with Nokes depiction of the conflict between evil and good - Mephistopheles & Marguerite HN775, a truly stunning figure!

Perhaps the star lot will be the complete set of Royal Doulton JRR Tolkien Lord of the Rings "Middle Earth" figures together with the handcrafted naturalistic stonework base, offered with an estimate of £800 - £1000. Additionally there will be the chance to bid on some rare Art Deco wall masks to include some of the harder to find smaller sized examples along with a variation from the popular Sweet Anne figure.

We have a fabulous range of figures in the sale with estimates ranging from £30 to £1000 so whether you are looking to start a collection or add to it then we do hope that there will be something there to take your fancy!

All Aboard!

Written by Franklin Browns on 9th September 2015.

From its beginnings in the 1920's through to the modern day Hornby has arguably become the most famous name in the world of British Model Railways. Designed by Frank Hornby of Meccano fame, the first tin plate clockwork model soon progressed to the electric Gauge O and Hornby Dublo models and with it dominance in the toy train market. This rise in popularity was helped along by the anti German sentiments following the war years and by the sheer quality of the materials and paints used by Frank Hornby in the design of his trains and locomotives. For many youngsters the inventiveness and playability of the Hornby Dublo range with its tin plate stations and accessories was to spark a lifelong fascination with Hornby.

We are therefore delighted to include a single vendor consignment of Pre & Post War Hornby trains and accessories in our forthcoming sale of Saturday 12th September. The collection spans the decades of the 20th century. Luckily the collectors' rule of 'keep the box' is well represented and on offer is a large selection of boxed Pullman carriages and rolling stock to include some fabulous advertising examples such as Cadburys and Shell Oil. Additionally there is a good selection of LNER and LMS engines to include Lord Nelson and many more.

We anticipate much interest in these lots and invite you to take a look at the online catalogue where we hope you will find something that takes your fancy of a bygone era!

Breaking Bad

Written by Franklin Browns on 24th July 2015.

A large collection of apothecary bottles and jars will feature in our Summer Antiques & Interiors sale on Saturday 29th August. Dating to 19th and early 20th Century their nostalgic appearance instantly transports us back to a time when the counter was the main focus of the Chemist shop and a place where anything was possible.

Pharmacists not only provided the community with medicinal remedies and pick me ups they actually made them whilst you watched. Everything needed in the production of your medicine was close to hand. Liquids and powders would be dispensed from glass bottles which were elegantly lined up and labeled with their abbreviated Latin names. Similarly all ointments were contained in stylish cylindrical pottery jars.

For the collector of vintage apothecary bottles and jars it does seem that variety is indeed the spice of life - you can concentrate on shape, content or colour. There is a great array to focus a collection around with many different types, such as tincture rounds - designed to hold plant extracts, ether rounds for volatile liquids and powder rounds which were designed with wider necks so that a scoop could be used. Syrups rounds were contained in coloured glass bottles, poisonous substances also but the latter would typically be differentiated by shape and texture.

Whether you are adding to a collection or simply looking for something tasteful for the home then it is well worth taking a look at the collection on offer - digressing a little but don't forget to check out the 19th Century coloured glass carboys. They once contained some very fancy French wine and it goes without saying that they are beyond stylish!