pottery at woolley and wallis

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Post by croker August 27th 2021, 2:36 pm

A few interesting results a Wooly's recently, the Hans Coper piece with a reserve of £8000 fetched £44,000 and a Royal Doulton figure of Pavlova with a reserve of £150 fetched an amazing £6500 but very surprisingly a John Maltby chess set unsigned but with provenance struggled and sold for only £550 (which seems an absolute bargain) whereas one of his ship wall ornaments made a £1000.
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Post by philpot August 27th 2021, 7:31 pm

August always has been a bad month for Auction sales. I think that the Wooley and Wallis sale reflected that. Fairly pedestrian prices. The David Burnham Smith cats did well, one at £3500. £3000 for an Alan Caiger Smith large bowl, £1100 for a Svend Bayer Jar. and the few bits and pieces that you mention.
It seems that the wind has gone out of John Maltby prices There were a fair number John Maltby pieces there, and generally I thought the prices were slightly lower than expected. I am not surprised at the Maltby chess set though. It was fairly ordinary, and his figurative work from the 70's seems to have fewer buyers than his later figurative work.
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Post by croker September 30th 2021, 12:27 pm

Wooly's autumn sale is now online with approx 60 pieces of studio pottery a third of which are Batterham pots, the star of the show is a stunning pot by James tower ,there are 5 pieces of John Ward but i think only two of them will probably be of interest to collectors. I don't think overall the quality of lots is as good as in some of their past auctions .
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Post by 22 Crawford St. September 30th 2021, 2:09 pm

Croker - do you go to a lot of the C20h ceramics auctions and do you see a lot of the same faces? Interested to know how much goes to online bidding of if it's still in person. Is it dealers buying to resell or is it mostly collectors (who don't have to sell an can outbid dealers)
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Post by croker September 30th 2021, 4:22 pm

hi 22 Crawford St, Until covid hit  we attended a fair number of auctions (not all ceramics) and yes we do see a lot of the same faces , many we know well. Nearly all lots in sales of higher end studio ceramics sell online or on the phone and in the case of Maak all on line . I think nearly all lots sold at auctions are direct to collectors ,there are very few dealers in the studio pottery field and the few that are know when to drop out of the bidding ( it's other collectors you have to worry about!).


Last edited by croker on September 30th 2021, 11:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by 22 Crawford St. September 30th 2021, 4:42 pm

Interesting TY.
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Post by croker February 28th 2022, 12:11 pm

The woolly's design sales are now on line, not so much for the studio pottery collector but estimates are quite low, some nice CSA pieces , less Batterham pieces than expected and a few Maltby bits. I think many rooms other than MAAK and Partridge are having problems attracting top end studio pieces on a regular basis.
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Post by philpot February 28th 2022, 4:14 pm

I think what you actually mean is 'Not Really Any High End pieces to interest me....' Laughter Laughter Which I agree with. But there about 120 pieces, with plenty of interest there for your average collector. A whole load of  Alan Caiger Smith and Aldermaston  potters as they usually have and a fair assortment of others. Wooley's estimates have always been quite low for studio pottery. The normal auctioneer double talk of 'it ATTRACTS THE BUYERS' may well be true. But on the other hand cheap estimates keeps the  auctioneer insurance rates down. Anything good never goes within estimate.
              As to a lack of stuff on the market. Well the traditional reasons for auctions are always Death, Divorce and Debt!.  That generation that did the main collecting in the 60's-90'd might well have passed away sone while ago. It is the estate sales that bring the best stuff to the market. Probably fewer of those going on.
            Equally the high end London auctioneers just mostly dabble in studio pottery now. So you don't have that Urban London and international advertorial much from the Big 4 in London.
              Then again, in a Rising Market, would you sell top end pieces? Only to see them  se;;at much higher prices a few years later?
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Post by croker February 28th 2022, 4:49 pm

What i was getting at was that i would have expected after many months of collecting pieces for this sale i would have expected that they would have attracted a wider range of studio pottery. Woolly's seem to have the markets sewn up for other collecting areas such as the Martin brothers and arts and crafts silver etc as much of this market seems to gravitate towards them but they don't seem have made much of a dent in the studio pottery market, it seems to me that those such as MAAK etc always attract the better pieces ,mainly i think because of their early entry into the field. Some auction rooms are trying hard to get on the bandwagon judging by the amount of invitations to consign recently. I find i can always buy better when a single good piece turns up in room not noted for it's studio pottery . For some reason many buyers are quite lazy when it comes to seeking out their chosen pieces .
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Post by philpot February 28th 2022, 5:29 pm

Its all about contacts of course. Marjilke of Maak was the Bonhams studio pottery expert before the financial collapse for a while. She then joined an online small auction house called Atrium Auctions. That eventually went bust and she then started up online with her own business. Basically she has built it up from scratch for over a decade through sheer hard work. It is really the only specialist pottery auction house in Britain, and does really know what she is talking about!
To all the other auctioneers Studio pottery is just a sideline. Some of the 'experts' are very good, some not very good! As a seller you have to be careful. As a buyer of course, it is the Not Very Good experts that you hope for!
Agreed about stuff coming up at the lesser houses. It often goes for less. But then again, that is not to easy nowadays!


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Post by croker February 28th 2022, 5:56 pm

Partridge is continuing to make good inroads into the market ,with three studio pottery sales listed this year there are sure to be some good items amongst the usual wide ranging offerings ,i believe there is a single owner collection.
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Post by 22 Crawford St. February 28th 2022, 5:59 pm

I have theory that say 80% of the good stuff goes to just 10% of the collectors out there. In others words there are a few supa hoarders buying up the majority of the best of that comes to auction. Same say x20 faces who buy the vast majority of the higher pieces time and again. They won't be interested in the low end stuff. They end up with a substantial collection.

Unlike some of us hoarders who hoard an 'array' of potters often there are people who just collect a small group of people or just one persons pots? Specialist hoarders?
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Post by philpot February 28th 2022, 6:10 pm

If the Supa-hoarders are buying up the best pieces at present rates, then they have super-deep pockets!
It might well be super collectors of individual potters though. There used to be a few collectors who bought a lot of the Maltby arty pottery. A couple looked as though they have stopped buying so much, and prices for the Maltby arty bowls etc have definitely levelled off.
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Post by croker February 28th 2022, 6:53 pm

I most collecting fields there are many specialists who only collect one or two  types  from any given collecting field, some only collect examples from across an artist's career, others  collect to illustrate a certain development in art ,i personally find this the best way to collect rather than the magpie approach that many 'collectors' seem to enjoy. Anthony Shaw is a good example , who collected only the artist's that illustrated the development  of sculptural ceramics in Britain .
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Post by studio-pots February 28th 2022, 8:34 pm

philpot wrote:          Its all about contacts of course. Marjilke of Maak was the Bonhams studio pottery expert before the financial collapse for a while. She then joined an online small auction house called Atrium Auctions. That eventually went bust and she then started up online with her own business. Basically she has built it up from scratch for over a decade through sheer hard work. It is really the only specialist pottery auction house in Britain, and does really know what she is talking about!
               To all the other auctioneers Studio pottery is just a sideline. Some of the 'experts' are very good, some not very good! As a seller you have to be careful. As a buyer of course, it is the Not Very Good experts that you hope for!
                 Agreed about stuff coming up at the lesser houses. It often goes for less. But then again, that is not to easy nowadays!        



Marijilke was the last head of studio ceramics at Bonhams and was able to take the client list with her when she left to start up on her own. That is significant. Her boss at Bonhams, before he jumped ship to go to Phillips was Cyril Frankel's assistant, Ben Williams. Hence the Driscoll Phillips sale.

She didn't actually join Atrium but used their platform to stage her own auctions before they went bust and then continued using the same system to this day. In effect  Atrium was not an auction house but a platform like eBay but with a physical space where people could view.

Of the studio pottery specialists at other auction houses, I know of none that have any more experience of studio pottery than most long standing members of this Forum.

Majilke is the only one that I would trust regarding attribution and condition.

Once the London auctions houses stopped selling studio pottery Woolley & Wallis really had the field to themselves and it fitted nicely with their other 20th century pottery expertise. However, other auction houses came along and sought "single collections", which gains them kudos and so W & W have been side lined. I think it was because they had enough to keep them busy in other areas where their specialists have a great deal of experience and are highly regarded.

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Post by philpot February 28th 2022, 8:58 pm

Sorry to contradict you Studio. But she did work with Atrium. They ran Online auctions for several years circa 2009 and did not only do studio pottery. We actually sold several pieces through Atrium and actually took them down to their London offices where we met her. She was a consultant with them. When they went bust she used their software, and used it to work out of her own home in West London to start her own Online auction house.
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Post by studio-pots February 28th 2022, 9:59 pm

It doesn't really matter who is correct about Atrium but I'll stick with my version.

The Atrium lot were dodgy, Majilke isn't.

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Post by ppcollectables March 1st 2022, 9:47 am

I think Mallams at Oxford do far more studio pottery than W & W. Their 20th cent design sales are probably over 50% studio pottery - and they seem to get good prices. Not that I am any kind of expert.
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Post by philpot March 1st 2022, 11:21 am

I think that Mallams probably have a similar customer base to Wooley and Wallis. Both of them for instance usually have a fair selection of Alan Caiger Smith/Aldermaston work/
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Post by studio-pots March 2nd 2022, 4:05 pm

ppcollectables wrote:I think Mallams at Oxford do far more studio pottery than W & W. Their 20th cent design sales are probably over 50% studio pottery - and they seem to get good prices. Not that I am any kind of expert.

Mallams were one of the first galleries after W&W to become interested in handling studio pottery and years ago I did attend their auctions regularly. I did fine that you had to view, as many things were A/F despite no mention of it and some things were miscatalogued. Basically, their specialist was new to studio pottery and took what the vendor said as being true.

Estimates were generally low and it did attracted dealers at all levels and so desirable things went for the right price, with little room for a mark up. I eventually got bored with the journey with little or no reward.

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Post by studio-pots March 2nd 2022, 4:08 pm

philpot wrote:        I think that Mallams probably have a similar customer base to Wooley and Wallis. Both of them for instance usually have a fair selection of Alan Caiger Smith/Aldermaston work/

When I used to attend both auction houses regularly you did tend to see familiar faces even if you didn't know their name. A number of those were eBay sellers I found out.

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