24th MARCH 2011

Bainbridge’s Latest Discovery!!

Yet another vase discovered in a routine house clearance is the cause of mounting excitement for the March sale.  The 18.1″ glazed pottery vase is decorated with flowers and foliage in the Iznik style and is marked ‘L & Co’ in ink on the base.  Thinking possibly ‘Liberty & Co’, our cataloguer looked more closely, and noticed that the ‘L & Co’ mark was painted onto a layer of plaster which was starting to break up and come away from the base, revealing part of an impressed mark.  He began to carefully chip away at some of the blank areas of plaster, to reveal ‘MORGAN’, though the mark didn’t appear to resemble any of the marks known for William De Morgan.

However, diligent research turned up a similar vase sold by Christies in October 2008, described as ‘ … an exceedingly rare example of a De Morgan design, executed on The Morgan Crucible Company ware‘.  Christies’ catalogue also gives some background:

The Morgan Brothers’ industrial ceramics company was founded in Battersea in 1856, adopting “The Morgan Crucible Company” as a trading name in 1881. It has long been assumed that De Morgan had a working relationship with the company and indeed letters he sent to Halsey Ricardo (De Morgan’s business partner) in the mid 1890’s confirm not only that De Morgan bought clay from the company, but also shared resources: “it may as well be sent to the Crucible works in Battersea, where they will oblige by putting it through an oven” De Morgan, Florence, Feb 27/1895 (Letter in Private Collection). According to the eminent De Morgan expert Jon Catleugh “It seems to me obvious that at some stage De Morgan bought one of their products to try out, in this case very successfully”.

Research into the vase continues, and it currently carries an estimate of £4,000-6,000.

The rest of the sale is progressing and we are unpacking the usual range of treasure, including the Kreussen illustrated below, dated 1672 and estimated at £600-1,000.