THE JOHN DRISCOLL COLLECTION AT PHILLIPS IN LONDON

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Post by ppcollectables October 25th 2021, 6:50 pm

For example, I viewed the W and W auction last week, I was thinking of bidding on a couple of the John Ward pieces - I did bid on two and was underbidder on 1 think but then 'chickened out'. Anyway lots 202 and 203 looked quite similar in quality in the photos but on close inspection lot 203 had quite a lot of pinholing/pock-marking over the surface and whilst I assume that the tulip shape is the more collectable I think lot 202 was the better piece. I think if you had asked for a condition report it would have been mentioned but it is not obvious from photos only and is something that can only be judged in person.
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Post by 22 Crawford St. October 25th 2021, 7:47 pm

Sound advise PP but foreign bidders have no option. To really have a good look you need to be there the afternoon before, not so easy if you have work commitments. Let alone taking the next day off to attend the sale. Day+1/2 off work? Just not possible for most folk + staying overnight? If there is something you really want you have to rely on auction houses dubious condition reports and photos.

I agree about photographing items, they get handled by an awful lot of people as every stage. I've seen people picking up items I've bought before after bidding has ended which I though a bit off since I bought them.
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Post by croker October 25th 2021, 9:59 pm

Hi ppcollectables, The type of Ward pieces that you bid on often have the 'pot marks etc' and as you say the tulip shape is the most desirable of the two but both are relatively common so its worth holding out for a better example ,in my opinion 204 was probably the most desirable and normally i would have bid on it but i have eyes on a bigger fish at the moment.
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Post by NaomiM October 25th 2021, 10:11 pm

ppcollectables wrote: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.  

It’s possible an item would get damaged between consignment and sale day, so an early condition report would be out of date

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Post by 22 Crawford St. October 25th 2021, 11:04 pm

No it would point out that the item you paid for was damaged during the action process
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Post by ppcollectables October 26th 2021, 8:58 am

Hi Croker, lot 204 didn't 'do it ' for me , I preferred lot 201 but as a tentative newby to John Ward I wasn't sure how far I wanted to go. I appreciate that there can be surface imperfections etc. but my point is that photos can't always show these so sometimes I won't bid if a piece is in an auction thats far away,rather than take a chance - something else will always turn up a bit closer to home.
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Post by philpot October 26th 2021, 10:52 am

' would have bid on it but i have eyes on a bigger fish at the moment.'
Interesting comment there Croker. I am sure we would all be fascinated to know what the Bigger Fish are! Laughter Although of course you are not going to tell us! Big Laughter Big Laughter
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Post by studio-pots October 28th 2021, 3:12 pm

philpot wrote: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

The Sworders things you mentioned came from Trevor Coldrey and he didn't know that Sworders had taken them. In fact he thought I had taken them to the charity shop, so he was quite happy to get a little more to go to the "Adopt a Potter" charity.

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Post by studio-pots October 28th 2021, 3:20 pm

I think that the Phillips sale is a last minute thing but there are several items that I would love to own.

I have always been lukewarm to Coper's sculptural pieces and turned down a few in the past but the large dish (Lot 4) really appeals. At least I know that it's out of my price range.

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Post by croker October 28th 2021, 4:45 pm

Hi Studio-pots, I bought the Washington piece at Sworders which was said to have come from Coldrey but i wouldn't have thought this piece was charity shop fare .Nice to see someone at last talking about the Driscoll collection ,when this topic was raised i thought there would have been a flurry of replies with members of the forum eager to discuss the pieces in this amazing collection but no real interest materialised and it got me wondering just what does it take to interest the studio pottery collectors in this forum. The dish you mention is amazing and well documented , i have always liked Copers dishes but my favourite pieces are his spade forms or the later Cycladic forms. I have often been tempted to buy a small piece of Coper but a small single piece just wouldn't satisfy.
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Post by 22 Crawford St. October 28th 2021, 7:50 pm

Croker there are 6800+ registered member here but only a handful post frequently, most use it as a resource for information on things they have found. I was also shocked how squirrel-like ceramic collectors are, they covet pieces, buy them and then take them home put them on a shelf and they are never to be seen again. There are a few collectors clubs out there and there is an active facebook page for all sorts of studio but 99.99 % of the collectors out there are just mute lonely squirrels, hoarding nuts for the winter, very sad. Does not bother me any more but it did.
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Post by croker October 28th 2021, 8:19 pm

Hi Crawford, Thanks for your reply, i hadn't realised there were so many registered members , i realise not all the members are serious collectors of ceramics, and probably some are just pleased to find something nice in a charity shop or boot market and to get it identified but surely among the rest there must be a large group of collectors interested in the history etc of certain makers and the inspiration for their work, but why they won't post and discuss puzzles me .
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Post by 22 Crawford St. October 28th 2021, 8:39 pm

croker you seem like one of us, you just love talking about ceramics and seeing what other people have etc. Personally I learn new things all the time here and it's very much broadened my collecting horizons.

I will say that there is the Facebook community there are some serious studio collectors there (god knows why they want to advertise their full name) ...all I will say is I did not even get over the threshold.
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Post by philpot October 28th 2021, 8:43 pm

Interesting comments you make there Croker. Even more interesting was Studio's observation that it was a hastily put together affair. The first thought I had about it was it felt like A 'Greatest Hits' collection, with no consistent theme within it. It was purely therebecause it would make the greatest amount of money when sold together at Philips.A good part of this collection was the centre piece of the Yale sponsored THINGS OF BEAUTY GROWING. There it had its place and provoked a lot of Critical discussion, as well as a long interview with John Driscoll. It fascinated me, I spent a long time there.
Figure 80 of the catalogue of that Show had a 1976 start of the Driscoll collection The pots were by Annette Fuchs, Liz Fritsch,Deidre Burnett, Joanna Constantinidis, Geoffrey Swindell. John Ward and Lucie Rie. Which sounds more like a true collector!

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Post by croker October 28th 2021, 9:31 pm

Hi Philpot, It was interesting the way almost by chance that Driscoll started his collection in 1976 from the end that American exhibition ,although he was very happy with the pieces he bought and although good were not exceptional, he could have had no idea that the collection would develop into monster it now is. I wonder if he ever got the same enjoyment when buying all those Rie and Coper pieces as he did when buying his early pieces, Interesting when he said he made good friends with Ewen Henderson as i am not sure if he collected many of his pieces. In that interview he said that he would always try to collect 'iconic' pieces from his chosen potters and he seems to have mostly achieved this. I wonder how his collection was apportioned between MAAK and PHILLIPS ?.

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Post by philpot October 28th 2021, 9:55 pm

'Iconic pieces' Greatest Hits Indeed! The basest interpretation being that he had the Money to do just that
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Post by croker October 28th 2021, 10:12 pm

Yes plenty of spare money does help and in the world of studio ceramics there are always plenty 'iconic' pieces on the market ,unlike a number of other collecting fields in which keen collectors even with money might have to wait years to buy their holy grail.
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Post by croker October 28th 2021, 10:25 pm

Hi Crawford, I did join the British studio pottery Facebook AKA the mutual appreciation society but i never posted anything, it appears that you cant say anything even slightly controversial no matter how constructive, and it appears you have to put in plenty of wow's and great's when you reply to anyone.
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Post by 22 Crawford St. October 28th 2021, 10:39 pm

Yup that's the place
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Post by NaomiM October 28th 2021, 11:22 pm

I like people posting new work and finding new potters that way; even if they are old potters who have been forgotten about, left out of the Marks books, so that even their name and address has been forgotten and all we’re left with is their work and an anonymous stamp. I like the detective work of finding out who they were, when and where they were potting; the occasional post be new members who knew those potters personally and share anecdotes that bring them back to life.

I dislike being stuck in past decades of a so-called ‘golden age’ occupied by the old guard of dead potters who’s life’s work has been raked over by collectors and churned by auction houses and galleries, the same pieces turning up every decade or so as collectors cash in their investment or simply downsize in retirement. You can find tons of stuff written about them and their work online so there’s nothing left to discuss.

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Post by studio-pots October 29th 2021, 12:13 am

croker wrote:Hi Studio-pots, I bought the Washington piece at Sworders which was said to have come from  Coldrey but i wouldn't have thought this piece was charity shop fare .Nice to see someone  at last talking about the Driscoll collection ,when this topic was raised i thought there would have been a flurry of replies with members of the forum  eager to discuss the pieces in this amazing collection but no real interest  materialised and it got me wondering just what does it take to interest the studio pottery collectors in this forum. The dish you  mention is amazing and well documented , i have always liked Copers dishes but my favourite pieces  are his spade forms or the later Cycladic forms. I have often been tempted to buy a small piece of Coper but a small single piece just wouldn't satisfy.

Regarding the Sworders pieces from Trevor Coldrey in their last auction, the Bob Washington piece was the exception. There were two Washington vases in a previous Sworder's sale from Trevor's collection and they both sold on the day. However, the one that received the highest bid was never paid for and that was the one that you bought at the last sale. The other vase was similar and both had been bought from me originally and that's why I didn't really want them back. I had acquired them from Washington's widow in 2014 and so they haven't done the rounds.

I have been busy with other things lately and it was only today that I had the opportunity to see the pieces from John Driscoll's collection that had been selected for the Phillip's sale. I met John a few times and he did buy 2 or 3 things from me but for the life of me I can't remember what. I guess I will have to wait for future Maak auctions. There are some pretty special pieces in the sale, as I expected and, if anyone has the money to buy, then they are going to end up with a bargain whatever it takes.

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Post by studio-pots October 29th 2021, 12:22 am

croker wrote:Hi Philpot, It was interesting the way almost by chance that Driscoll started his collection in 1976 from the end that American exhibition ,although he was very happy with the pieces he bought and  although good were not exceptional, he could have had no idea that the collection would develop into monster it now is. I wonder if he ever got the same enjoyment when buying all those Rie and Coper pieces  as he did when buying his early pieces, Interesting when he said he made good friends with Ewen Henderson as i am not sure if he collected many of his pieces. In that interview he said that he would always try to collect 'iconic' pieces from his chosen potters and he seems to have mostly achieved this. I wonder how his collection was apportioned between MAAK and PHILLIPS ?.

   

Marijke of Maak had been Ben Williams's deputy at Bonhams after Ben took over from Cyril Frankel. Ben then went to Phillips where he has remained and so that's the connection.

I know that all the collection was shipped to Maak for sale and it appears as if it's all still there, hence no catalogue and comments here about the images.

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Post by croker October 29th 2021, 12:28 am

Hi  studio-pots, I had no idea that it been in Sworders before, i have been looking for a good example of his work for some time ,i find him an interesting artist , i would like one of his bowls but they never seem to come to auction. In regards to the Coper dish you liked there is an almost identical one lot104 in a Christies sale in June 1989.
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Post by studio-pots October 29th 2021, 12:37 am

philpot wrote:'Iconic pieces' Greatest Hits Indeed! The basest interpretation being that he had the Money to do just that

John Driscoll certainly had money, as he owned and ran the oldest gallery in the States based in New York, but he was an academic and a full time one when he started buying pots. The gallery business was completely separate and pot collecting was a hobby. He wasn't a flash buyer paying large sums at auctions to get noticed. In fact he was like many of us, looking for something at the right price. He would come over to London to buy from Bonhams auctions and dealers but never noticeably paid over the odds for anything. Most people attending Bonhams auctions wouldn't have noticed him and I had no idea who he was until you came down to my gallery one day and bought something.

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Post by studio-pots October 29th 2021, 12:48 am

croker wrote:Hi  studio-pots, I had no idea that it been in Sworders before, i have been looking for a good example of his work for some time ,i find him an interesting artist , i would like one of his bowls but they never seem to come to auction. In regards to the Coper dish you liked there is an almost identical one lot104 in a Christies sale in June 1989.

The vase that you own and most, if not all of the pieces, that have come on the market in recent years are things made after he retired from his day job.

I did spend a day over at his old studio and didn't see many bowls. What he seems to have done is spent months, possibly years, throwing large pots and then biscuit firing them. These he then decorated and then re-fired for the rest of his life, when he had the desire to. There were still a number of biscuit fired vases untouched in the studio that he hadn't got round to doing anything with. Towards the end of his life he experimented with some small bowl forms with bright colours that are completely different from the work he is known for.

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