Helping You Find Right Antiques

Car boot sale buy is rare PenDelfin plaque

By Christopher Proudlove ©

A chance find at a car boot sale is set to hit the jackpot for a couple after auctioneers valued their £2 bargain at £1,000 or more.

UPDATE: The wall plaque sold for £1,350.

"The little ceramic wall plaque was lying in the grass underneath one stall and my husband walked past without giving it a second glance," said the woman, a local government officer who asked not to be named.

"I was following on behind and it caught my eye when I looked down, so I picked it up. I didn’t think much of it at first, but when I turned it over, I saw the name .

"There was no price on it, so I asked the stallholder how much she wanted for it and she said ‘£2.50’. I offered her £2 and bought it just like that.

"When we got home, we looked it up on the Internet but couldn’t find anything about it. The

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Stevengraphs: silken Valentine’s Day gifts

By Christopher Proudlove ©

February 14 presents something of a double whammy on my wallet: not only is it Valentine’s Day, but it’s also the Business Manager’s birthday. Mrs P and I have known each other for a long time and it has always caused a problem.

See a slideshow of silken Stevengraphs

One year I recall buying her a wonderful Nailsea glass ship under a glass dome – a Victorian fancy that I thought she would like as much as me. She did, but she’s never let me forget just whose present it really was.

Then there was the year when, following mutual agreement, we decided not to buy anything

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So, farewell then wonderful Wedgwood

By Christopher Proudlove ©

So, farewell then wonderful Wedgwood (at least in the form we know it today). You will be sorely missed … Last week, and with virtually the same words, this column mourned the passing of Woolworths.  Now another great institution is on the ropes.

     Venture capitalists circle over the Barlaston works, enticed by Receivers who will be the only winners in the game, while a talented workforce of Staffordshire potters nervously awaits its fate.
    Founded by the great Josiah in 1759, Wedgwood once produced wares that everyone wanted to buy from Catherine the Great to people like my parents who just wanted a smart Sunday best teaset. Not any more it seems.
    The youngest of 12 children, Josiah was born at his parents’ pottery in Burslem. He started school at the age of six, but was forced to leave on his father’s death at nine.
    He then worked then for five years as apprentice in the family pot bank, but was then

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Masriera – master jeweller

By Christopher Proudlove ©

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Fly to the Costa Brava for a penny? You must be kidding! I wasn’t, and we did, thanks to a last-minute flight out of Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport courtesy of one of the low-cost airlines operating there.

It was a great way of setting ourselves up for the twin Christmas excesses of too much turkey and television.

In contrast, we raced around in the glorious winter sunshine seeing cities and seaside resorts, eating paella in two-hour lunches and even managing to fit in visits to a museum and an antiques fair – all without the crush of summer tourists.

The first of many revelations was Antoni Gaudi’s Temple de la Sagrada Familia – Barcelona’s astonishing "jewelled" cathedral to the Sacred Family still being built more than 120 years after it was started in 1882.

The following day, we enjoyed tapas at a pavement cafe outside one of the most striking Art Nouveau buildings in Girona, and in the same city we saw an exhibition featuring the

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Farewell Woolworths – hello Homemaker

By Christopher Proudlove ©

So, farewell then wonderful Woolworths. You’ll be sorely missed, and not just by the pick-n-mix crowd.

We drove past the shop where Mrs P was a Saturday girl on the cheese counter (remember the days when they sold food?). What remains is a cavernous white elephant on a High Street crippled by closures.

Click here to see a slideshow of Homemaker images*

Now the sales vultures have finished picking over the carcass, the detritus of the shopping giant has started to appear on eBay.

Staff T-shirts, customer service badges, rolls of “Sold By Woolworths” tape, even plastic

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Dorothy Doughty’s wonderful Worcester birds

By Christopher Proudlove ©

First it was Springwatch, then it was a trip to Llyn Crafnant, the dramatic yet tranquil lake in Snowdonia National Park. We have caught the bird-watching bug – seeing three woodpeckers at the same time, presumably mum, dad and chick, was what clinched it.

Then these two characters turned up. According to the auctioneer, they are pre-production prototype figures modelled by Dorothy Doughty (1892-1962) and manufactured by Royal Worcester.

They are highly sought after by collectors, particularly those in America and with names like Mockingbird and Peach Blossom and Chickadee and Larch, that’s hardly surprising.

They were issued in limited editions: 500 Mockingbirds in 1940 and 325 Chickadees in 1938 and they fetch appreciable sums. These prototypes, which exist presumably in even smaller numbers, are expected to sell for up to £3,000 apiece.

But it’s Dorothy who interests me most. She was clearly a kindred spirit. She’s also one of the finest modellers of birds and wildlife of all time.

She was born in Italy, daughter of the explorer and poet Charles Doughty, but came to England as a girl with her father and sister Freda. She studied at

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Pugin and Herdman – two Victorian greats

By Christopher Proudlove ©

Funny how things come full circle, isn’t it? With an increase in knowledge and improved communications, the antiques industry is replete with remarkable discoveries that serve only to make the hobby of collecting even more compelling.

See a slideshow of Hardman of Birmingham images

Take the silver toast rack pictured here. It turned up in an auction in Australia where specialists rightly believed it was designed by that master of gothic, A.W.N. Pugin. But in the absence of any documentary evidence, they couldn’t prove it.

In the course of their research, the auctioneers turned to one of Pugin’s suppliers, the Birmingham-based John Hardman & Co.

Founded in 1838, it was Hardman who created much of the Pugin-designed furnishings,

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I love linocuts by Cyril Power and Sybil Andrews

By Christopher Proudlove ©


Linoleum – once every home had at least one floor covered with it – is hardly the medium  associated with striking images like the ones illustrated here.

You’ll have to take my word for it, though: without

the muddy mixture of ground cork, solidified linseed oil and rosin rolled onto a coarse canvas backing – it was patented by its

English inventor Frederick Walton in 1860 – the prints might never have been conceived.

I remember making linocut prints in school art lessons (they were pathetic) but no one knows precisely when serious artists hit on the idea.

Theoretically, it could have started from the date of its invention, but apparently,

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Royal Doulton Blue Children pottery is rare and sought after

By Christopher Proudlove ©

Blue Children? No, not some new kind of genetically modified offspring but a collectable that I had seen before but never paid much attention to or even heard it termed as such.

See a slideshow of Blue Children patterns here.

Fact is, not a lot is known about this particularly distinctive brand of Royal Doulton pottery, but faced with a collection of five pieces of the stuff ranged attractively prior to their auction, it’s hard to ignore.

So, ever keen to expand my knowledge, I spoke to the owner who had decided to start to thin out his collection in an upcoming sale.

He told me the five pieces represented the less important 25 per cent of what he owned.

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Devlin silver is the stuff of duchesses and dreams

By Christopher Proudlove ©

CONFESSION: until recently, I had dismissed contemporary silversmith Stuart Devlin as the maker of quirky novelties  sold for lots of money as “limited editions” either by mail order or else in shops too exclusive for their own good.

You know the kind of things I mean. The Sunday colour supplements are full of them. Then I saw the massive centrepiece pictured here.

For a start, Devlin is primarily a designer, not a maker, and it was he who conceived this amazing, almost futuristic three-section candelabrum.

See a slidewho ow Devlin silver here.

A commission from none other than the late Duke and Duchess of Westminster,

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Converts to the clan of collectors!

By Christopher Proudlove ©

Oh how I love compliments! Thanks to "Jules and Andy" who posted this email:

Hi Chris

Just recently my partner and I made our first ever auction purchase on a picture of two quirky little owls.  We fell in love with it straight away but had no idea who the painter was.  After acquiring this little treasure we began to research it to find out more about it.  We came across your article on H B Neilson and were warmed by your enthusiasm for his work.  We now believe it to be one of his pieces and just wanted to send you a photograph of the picture in gratitude for all the research you have done on Harry and of course show that people still do appreciate his talent (even though we had no clue who he was!).

Thank You

No, Jules and Andy, thank you! . Read about Harry Neilson here – perhaps you’ll catch the collecting bug.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Forgotten artists

Spreading knowledge: Velsen porcelain

By Christopher Proudlove ©

WriteAntiques is all about spreading knowledge about old stuff, so when  René van Kralingen  and his wife, Barbara, contacted me, I was only too happy to help.

René writes: We’re proud collectors of Velsen pottery (the polychrome kind 1940’s – 1960’s). Maybe you could post our blog on your site too ? It’s hard to find anything on Velsen pottery on the Internet. Kindest regards, René.

According to René’s blog, There’s not much to be found about Velsen Polychrome Porcelain (polychroom porselein) on the Internet…..and that is too bad.

So, let’s help out here folks.

According to René

At  the end of the 1920’s Eelke Snel (21 years old) and Koen Mertens (31 years old) started a ceramics factory in Velsen-north under the name “Pottery Kennemerland”. Eelke Snel started out as a help in making the moulds at the Amphora factory in Oegstgeest.
From there he started working at St. Lukas in Utrecht. Then on the 20th of may 1920 he, Koen Mertens, Jan van Ham and Cees Muyens started a new pottery under the name “De vier paddelstoelen” (The four mushrooms). This didn’t last very long and in December of the same year Eelke and Koen started their own company in Velsen.
This didn’t seem to be the right combination, because only four years later Eelke went on alone. Eelke tried to make a cheap but beautiful kind of pottery and succeeded , because shortly after this a lot of workers joined the factory. The first designs were hand painted with squares on a cream coloured and gray background.
When the designer Carl Gellings came into the picture, the simple designs turned a bit more to art. In the years to come the designs changed to more delicate objects.
In 1943 – during the second world war – the factory was ordered by the Germans to move. The factory moved to Sassenheim and changed the name to “Velsen”. There they started out with the old moulds, but soon came up with other forms of pottery, porcelain and ceramics.

Potterie Kennemerland, Velsen 1920-1924
Kennemer Pottenbakkerij, Velsen 1924-1929
N.V. Kennemer Potterij, Velsen 1929-1932
E. Snel voorheen N.V. Kennemer Potterij, Velsen 1933-1936
Kunstaardewerkfabriek Velsen, Velsen 1936-1942
Keramiekfabriek Velsen, Sassenheim 1942-2002

So please, anyone with any further information about this charming and highly decorative porcelain, do let René and me know.  Numerous Brownie points to anyone who can help

1 CommentTags: Porcelain

Top brass in Christie’s sale of The Casimir Collection

By Christopher Proudlove ©

THE FIRST “antique” I ever bought was a set of horse brasses attached to a black leather strap which, as a feckless boy, I thought my mother might quite like for her birthday present. Truth be told, of course, I liked them more than she did.

It was sometime before I learned what she already knew: the horse brasses were reproduction (that is fakes)so their attractiveness quickly diminished and I vowed never to be fooled again. Ah well, we can all hope …

In those days, real brass and copper antiques were worth a small fortune by comparison with today. I remember attending a house contents sale in the 1970s where two sisters and their brother could not agree on how the possessions of their late parents should be shared out.

In the event, the brother, who was clearly better off than his sisters, paid huge sums for anything he fancied, while buyers like me could only stand and watch.

I say better off, but as a beneficiary of his parents’ estate, any monies raised from the

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The Ins and Outs of a new antiques collecting year

By Christopher Proudlove ©

THE TOAST is … a new year of collecting opportunity.

Another 12 months in which to indulge one’s passion, splurge yet more cash on knickknacks and fripperies and generally fill walls and any remaining flat surfaces with completely useless objects that you simply cannot live without.

But then you’re a true collector, addicted to a hobby that has neither rhyme nor reason. You hunt out stuff that is old and therefore hard to find and when you find it, the red mist returns …

Good for you, I say. But why do you collect?

Click here to see some suggestions

Do you collect to a plan or pattern? Do you follow the crowd and collect what’s currently in fashion, or do you set the trend and buy for love … or for money? And anyway, does it matter?

I don’t pretend to have the answers, but having watched the fine art auction market at close quarters for the last 12 months (actually, the last 20 years) I think I know what’s in, what’s out and what’s up and coming. Here’s my selection.

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Happy birthday The Dandy and Desperate Dan

By Christopher Proudlove ©

THE Dandy’s barrel-chested, be-stubbled, cowpie-guzzling Cactusville cowboy Desperate Dan was easily my favourite, but I was horrified to learn that he celebrates his 70th birthday this month. Yikes that makes me feel ancient.
    Yup, it’s true. Still entertaining young (and old) readers all over the world, The Dandy is the world’s longest-running comic.
    The first issue featured the five foot tall feline, Korky the Cat, on the front cover and inside were strips staring such memorable characters as Keyhole Kate, Hungry Horace, and the great Desperate Dan.

See a slideshow © DC Thomson & Co. Ltd. 2007

    Tucked inside it was a free gift, an "Express Whistler", and it hit the newsstands on Friday December 4, 1937.
    It cost 2d (0.83 of a penny). In an auction in October 2004 that sent comic collectors crazy, a copy of Issue 1, complete with its free gift, sold for a staggering £20,350.
    Was it an investment? Probably. This remains the highest price ever paid for a single comic in Britain.

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Antique Christmas cards are vintage collectables

By Christopher Proudlove ©

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I’M NOT sending any Christmas cards this year. Not only do they cost a fortune,  considering they’re just bits of folded card, but with the added cost of the postage, I decided to save my money.

Instead, my New Year resolution is to add to my collection of Victorian Christmas cards, some of which are pictured here.

Click here for a Christmas card slideshow

Some friends of ours have a lovely Christmas tradition of their own. Instead of sending their family members a new Christmas card each year, the same small collection of "antique" cards gets circulated among them, each person receiving a different one than the previous year.

Rather than being chucked into the waste recycling bin, or chopped up to make gift tabs (which is another useful money-saving tip) our friends’ vintage cards are carefully stored away for a year and then brought out to be posted again for a new round of festive cheer.

I’m afraid I wouldn’t risk the hazards of the postal service. Not that vintage Christmas cards

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All I want for Christmas is a pop-up book

By Christopher Proudlove ©

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THERE’LL be no Wiis in my house this Christmas thank you very much. We watched them being demonstrated at the launch by Nintendo PR girls thrusting, parrying and gesticulating in front of a widescreen TV.

See a pop-up slideshow

It immediately made us wonder how long it would be before one of them let the thing slip, sending it crashing through the screen. Wiis don’t have a wrist strap for nothing, but if I was the parent of a youngster expecting one from Santa this Christmas, I be taking out extra insurance.

Oh for the days when children were content with a stocking containing an orange, the latest Dandy or Beano annual, a handful of assorted nuts (still in their shells, of course) and a few simple and inexpensive toys. Ah yes, I remember it well.

Time was when the must-have Christmas present for children and adults alike was a magical

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Monthly auctions, home of the bargain hunter

By Christopher Proudlove ©

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IT’S A  bit like school. You study hard (in theory anyway), pass countless exams (hopefully) and over time, pick the subjects you like best. Then, if everything goes to plan, higher education beckons. Now’s the time to specialise.

Be transported by slideshow to the saleroom

To the exclusion of everything else (well, almost everything) you’re concentrating now on one subject alone. You’re mixing with like-minded individuals and despite the competition, the tuition you received in earlier years pays dividends.

Ironically, so it is with fine art auction sales. With bidding sometimes rising at the rate of £1,000 a time, to the uninitiated, they can be as scary as the first day at a new school. So how do you become initiated? Actually, it’s simple: like any learning, you start in the junior class, although in this case, they’re called general sales.

Almost every auctioneer in the country has them. They might be disguised as something

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Mysteries of Moorcroft mean money in the bank

By Christopher Proudlove ©

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THERE were gasps of amazement … and self-satisfied smiles from those in the know. Small, nondescript Moorcroft pairs of vases decorated with the ubiquitous pansies sell for around £200 in local auctions, £300 if you’re lucky and dealers in the room want stock.

Click here for a Moorcroft mystery tour

So how come the two illustrated here fetched £2,400? After all, they are nondescript, yes?

Actually, not a bit of it. They might only measure a mere six centimetres in height, but these little rarities pack a punch above their weight.

The secret is in the background on which the pansies are painted. Instead of the usual deep

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Why not start to collect 20th Century Ceramics?

By Christopher Proudlove ©

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YOU’VE SEEN them at countless car boot sales, and you’ve been embarrassed when you’ve  asked the stallholder how much he wants for the naff set of NatWest piggy banks, the SylvaC bunnies or the preserve pots shaped like onions modelled with faces on the sides.

Click here for a 20th Century Ceramics slideshow

But it’s okay. Help is at hand in the shape of the latest glossy hardback to come from the stable of the Antique Collectors’ Club, entitled "Starting to Collect 20th Century Ceramics". Author Andrew Casey is an acknowledged expert on the subject and his book has been produced specially with the novice collector in mind.

From the Lord of the Rings figures from the Middle Earth Series produced by Royal Doulton in 1980 to the Homemaker designs made in the 1950s for Woolworth’s by Ridgway Potteries, Mr Casey’s book is not just an exercise in "Do people really collect those?", but

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