THE JOHN DRISCOLL COLLECTION AT PHILLIPS IN LONDON

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Post by philpot October 19th 2021, 4:44 pm

https://www.phillips.com/auctions/auction/UK050321

John Driscoll was a big American collector of British Studio Ceramics from the mid 1970's onwards. The sale is full of Top End pieces, and there are probably auction records going to be broken here. The early Bernard Leach slipware pieces  are very interesting, as few of these come to market now. Some extra special Coper's, and a lot of Top Japanese in a fascinating sale. I thought the John Wards' were a but underwhelming though.
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Post by croker October 19th 2021, 4:45 pm

Part one of the Driscoll collection is now online at Phillips auctions in London .A good selection of Hans Coper pieces  and other high quality items many with high expectations, also on line at MAAK.
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Post by philpot October 19th 2021, 5:15 pm

Snap!
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Post by 22 Crawford St. October 19th 2021, 6:18 pm

Ignoring the values I think I'd take one of these two humble tiles by BL. If you twisted my arm then both Laughter

https://www.phillips.com/detail/bernard-leach/UK050321/37
https://www.phillips.com/detail/bernard-leach/UK050321/40
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Post by croker October 19th 2021, 8:19 pm

hi, Crawford, I hope you don't mind me asking but out of all the great things in this sale what do find so interesting in these tiles, do you collect leach tiles?.
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Post by 22 Crawford St. October 19th 2021, 10:22 pm

Nonono I don't 'collect' anything I just buy nice things that come my way. Could be anything. I have a few things here http://briglin.com/cardew-gallery/ but stalled the website as I paused collecting whilst I do other things. Only did the Farnham, Cardew and Guy Sydenham galleries as a test then stopped.

The tiles are not serious art for me, not the fancy pants universal abstract art of Coper. The tiles are of the country, bucolic, provincial, whimsical, naive in a complex way. They could have been painted by a gamekeeper in his shed in a Summer evening whilst smoking a rollup (or a pipe). The Coper could never have ben made by a gamekeeper in his shed, more like by an alien in his spaceship. I can picture BL with a brush in hand painting those tiles, I find them honest. They bring me more joy than the hard forms of the Coper. So what if one is worth x10 that the other, not buying either so it matters not.


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Post by croker October 19th 2021, 10:45 pm

hi Philpot, We seemed to have posted this topic at the same time, still never mind. Yes the john Wards are pretty average and i am not sure if he collected any better examples, i think i have enough of Ward's pots at the moment although i might make an exception for the piece in the Partridge sale . I agree there could be auction records broken for some of these potters as there are many hard to find examples here. I like the large Henderson and might have a bash. Did you go to the Sworders sale today?.
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Post by philpot October 20th 2021, 8:12 am

Most of the pieces as Sworders was the type of items I sold on downsizing! Mind you prices did not seem that brilliant. Bargains to be had in the multiples of Mike Dodd ad Lisa Hammond. There was a sale of similar items at Chorleys near At Cheltenham yesterday and there were a lot of unsolds there! There tends to be quite a lot of 3rd generation Leach (vaguely generalising in category!) around at auctions. Too much seemingly.
https://www.sworder.co.uk/auction/details/A981-design---two-day-sale---live-online/?au=998&sd=1&dr=1&pn=5&g=1
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Post by philpot October 20th 2021, 9:16 am

If I had the pick of that auction I think it would be the Bernard Leach slipware pieces. I think they are Bernard at his most very best and exciitng as an 'artist', a genuine link between British pottery history, and a wonderful antidote to the endless Anglo/ Oriental Leach tradition that became a modern cliche in British potting!
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Post by croker October 20th 2021, 10:10 am

Hi Philpot, I don't think i appreciate his slipware pieces in the same way that you do ,i don't really see the historical link, i love the 17th and 18th century English slipware but cannot see the point of going backwards , i agree anything is better than the endless production of Japanese inspired tea bowls etc. I do understand understand that Leach is important in the history of studio pottery and as such his best output will always command attention from collectors. If i had my pick i would have to go for the obvious the Copers .On another note as you say the Sworders and Chorley sales both had many unsold lots and the problem seems to be that a number of auction rooms are now jumping on the bandwagon of 'design sales' and padding them out with a number of less desirable pieces .I managed to buy one piece from Sworders .
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Post by philpot October 20th 2021, 4:35 pm

I have seen numerous Coper's now. The V&A, York, Sainsbury Norwich, Cambridge, and a whole hear of sales before 2008. I must find them a bit cold and intellectual. Whereas somehow I find those early Leach warm and cuddly! Akthough most of Bernard's general output was fairly dull. Still it is all academic. You are going to need a very deep purse to afford the prices those are going to get!
Talking about prices. The Tower piece at Wooley and Wallis today had a hammer price of £28,000. Equally of interest, a very large Batterham vase went hammer price £2200. But generally prices were rather subdued. Kate Maolone struggled, the Ward did a bit as well. I wonder if the market has peaked, and it is only the very rare and exceptional that is now reaching the heights. We shall see.
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Post by 22 Crawford St. October 20th 2021, 4:59 pm

I have a similar viewpoint Philpot. The BL will keep you warm on a cold winters night.

I watched some of the auction today and it's very strange with 90% of the bidding coming in on the internet, the auctioneer is virtually redundant, he's just watching a screen commentating on a number. Once you've viewed the pots then why bother ging to the auction ....except it save the bloody commission from the Saleroom i suppose?
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Post by croker October 20th 2021, 5:00 pm

hi, I think Ward pots have definitely peaked and maybe dropped a little this is why i didn't bid at Wooleys today ,Ward was quite prolific and the supply has probably exceeded the demand a little, the only possible exceptions being his black and white pieces. The Tower piece was great and i was not surprised at the price ,next to Coper i think he would be my favourite potter , I think the type of pottery being produced by Kate Malone and others has really had it's day (could be wrong though i often am). It will be interesting to see what the pair of Batterham pieces do at Phillips .I think overall the market has slowed a bit and buyers are getting more picky.
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Post by philpot October 20th 2021, 5:28 pm

There is also less top quality stuff coming on to the market. The Driscoll collection is one of the best to come up for sale for a very goodly time.
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Post by croker October 21st 2021, 9:16 pm

hi, There is a smaller misfired leach tile of the same bird design in the  Lyon and Turnbull auction next Saturday lot 213 plus a small number of other fairly interesting studio pottery pieces .
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Post by philpot October 22nd 2021, 10:31 am

Lyon and Turnbull seem to want to try and establish themselves as Posh auctioneers on the level of Sothebys and Christies. Given they are Scotland's poshest auctioneer. So they have these auctions at the Mall galleries in London!
The previous days Wilhelmina Barnes sale has a few Janet Leach, and Bernard bits of slight interest. Angus Suttie, Ewen Henderson tea bowls, Ashraf Hanna. Akiko Hirai looked slightly interesting. Has Matthew Chambers been in this sort of auction before?
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Post by croker October 22nd 2021, 11:56 am

Hi Philpot, They do seem to be trying to get a foot in the door in London, i have bought from them and they are quite quick to reply to queries ,so no complaints yet. The Henderson pieces in this sale were previously sold at Bonhams less than a year ago , a piece by Chambers was in a sothebys sale a short time ago but i am not sure if it sold . I came across Chambers work some time ago and thought, here is someone with some promise ,i kind of like his work but havn't been tempted to buy a piece yet ,i understand he is now experimenting with sculpture .He was working on the Isle of Wight .
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Post by croker October 22nd 2021, 12:02 pm

I just looked it up and the Chambers piece fetched £2375 inclusive it was sold on 26 Nov 2018 lot 213.
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Post by philpot October 25th 2021, 10:31 am

I must admit the photos on Phillips website of the Driscoll collection leave a lot to be desired. Some of them are downright Poor.
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Post by 22 Crawford St. October 25th 2021, 2:43 pm

Can I ask a question that has been puzzling me for a longtime. I did a comparison between ebay and the saleroom a while back and one big difference was photos. Ebay often posting x10 good photos whilst some auction houses only posted a single image of items. Now the auction house work on people coming to see the item in person at the preview but more and more this probably does not happen - so you have to ask for a condition report.

QUESTION: Why the hell do not auction houses just publish a condition report as a mater of course? Why do I have to ask. With the vast majority of items sold online, every item needs a comprehensive repot on it as standard.

The Adam Partridge site now has really good sets of photos

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Post by NaomiM October 25th 2021, 2:56 pm

Presumably no one asks for a condition report for the majority of items.

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Post by 22 Crawford St. October 25th 2021, 3:26 pm

I understand that at 'traditional' auctions selling house clearances, you hardly needs a condition report for birdbath or sofa, 99% bis were on the day - perhaps some left a commission bid if they could not be there.

But now we have 99% online biding and items worth £1000s - and they can't be bothered to point out is has a bloody big crack down the back or is damaged. They need to change.
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Post by croker October 25th 2021, 5:21 pm

I have contacted Phillips and the condition reports will be ready by the 3rd of November. They advertised a printed catalogue at $35 but on enquiring i was told that there would be no printed catalogue for this sale. I guess that Phillips have probably had the pick of the better pieces and the rest are to be sold at MAAK next year , who happen to publish good photos and guaranteed condition reports. Condition reports at most auctions are not binding anyway , even in an online only auction the condition reports are often the opinions of a mainly unqualified staff .
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Post by croker October 25th 2021, 5:40 pm

If you view the available E catalogue the photos there are much better .
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Post by ppcollectables October 25th 2021, 6:38 pm

There are a lot of auction houses who would save themselves a lot of time and effort if they made a note of condition when an item is consigned. Why don't a lot of them bother ? - no idea. What tends to happen is that items come in over a period of weeks, months, they may be photographed for catalogues but are then stored away until only a few days before an auction when they are put on display in the saleroom, thus you can sometimes ask for a condition report in good time but won't get it until a day before the auction.
I know its easier to bid online from many miles away but always remember that photos only tell a part of the picture ( ebay too ), scale can be difficult to properly imagine, quality of decoration etc. If I view in person there are usually items which don't look as good as in photos and there are plenty which look much better and would have been ignored if I hadn't seen them up close.
Sometimes it is better to leave something because it is too far away.
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