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Rare Charles II London Delft mug sells for £82,000
An astonishing result was achieved at auction for The Cotswold Auction Company on Midsummer's Day, June 21, at their Cheltenham Chapel Walk saleroom. A rare 17th-century English delft mug came to the market in a specialist collectors sale and caused a real battle amongst delft enthusiasts , resulting in one of the highest ever prices achieved for a delft mug at auction.
The mug, a highly important piece of English ceramic history, had been unearthed amongst house contents destined for sale by auctioneer Lindsey Braune on a routine visit. "I was just listing the lots for sale when the mug seemed to jump out at me from the back of a china cabinet! What was particularly striking was its armorial shield, together with the very early date of 1674. I suggested taking it away it for research -- rather to the family's surprise, as they thought the chips on the rim would mean it wasn't of value."
In fact, for its age, the mug was in remarkable condition. English delft is a type of tin-glazed earthenware, light in weight and very easily damaged, so that few pieces survive three centuries or more without major faults. The globular-shaped mug was painted in blue with a shield from the armorial bearings of the Worshipful Company of Salters, comprising three salt pots with grains of salt trailing from each. The Worshipful Company of Salters is one of the oldest livery companies in the country -- ranked number nine in the "Great Twelve City of London Livery Companies" and was founded in 1394.
The painted floral decoration around the shield has charming additions, such as a butterfly and a snail and the homely motto on the rim states "I am but earth it is most trew, disdain mee not for so are you, ano dom 1674" and the mug also bears the initials "WWR", possibly indicating that it was a wedding present for a liveryman of the Company.
Lindsey Braune commented "The amount of interest before the sale was phenomenal and viewers were particularly struck by the inscription, date and crisp decoration - but above all by the condition. Devotees of English delft said they felt privileged just to hold it for a short time, because it is so rare." The last of the 3 sales of the Longridge Ceramic Collection at Christie's, London in May this year included a smaller delft mug with powdered manganese decoration, which sold at £59,000. It is thought that Tuesday's result in Cheltenham may actually be a record for a delft mug sold at auction.
Interested parties were keeping their cards close to their chest prior to the sale and many turned up in the saleroom to do battle with telephone and internet bidders. Serious commission bids were received by the auctioneers before the sale and bidding started at £25,000, rising quickly to £70,000 in the room, then pushed up by telephone bidders until the mug was secured by ceramics specialist Garry Atkins bidding in the room on behalf of a collector.
"This was an auctioneer's dream" comments Lindsey, "And early English ceramics are one of my particular passions. I could hardly believe what I had found and carrying out the research with the help of the archivist at the Salters Company and Gloucester archives was fascinating. We think that the mug may even have been in the same family from the beginning, but records from this period are rather elusive!"
The next Cotswold Auction Company specialist collectors sale in Cheltenham will take place in October and includes books, medals, militaria, stamps, coins and other collectables. Entries are already being accepted and the auctioneers are happy to give advice on value. Please contact them on 01242-256363 or via the website www.cotswoldauction.co.uk
: 23/06/2011 16:09:00
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