Leach Pottery and musings on pottery dealing

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Post by philpot December 2nd 2022, 4:45 pm

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Post by NaomiM December 2nd 2022, 4:47 pm

By listing it as "St Ives Bernard Leach pottery vase" you are implying it's by Bernard Leach Laughter

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Post by Neil62 December 2nd 2022, 4:54 pm

NaomiM wrote:By listing it as "St Ives Bernard Leach pottery vase" you are implying it's by Bernard Leach Laughter


I think you should read the listing rather than just picking one line out:-

I am not going to imply that this vase was made by Bernard Leach, Michael Cardew or Harry Davis though it is likely.

If there had been any individual potter marks then it would make it a lot easier to value BUT I do not speculate - I’d rather lose a sale.

If you are going to police eBay listings I think there are far better ones than that and loads at auctions

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Post by Neil62 December 2nd 2022, 4:56 pm

philpot wrote:That is an optimistic price.

It’s an optimistic price Philpot because I don’t really want to sell it!
When I started selling I decided that apart from the Hamada pots which I bought from Hajeong Lee Rogers everything else had a saleable value dependant upon not just my own cost but how much I enjoyed looking at it!!
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Post by Neil62 December 2nd 2022, 5:04 pm

For the record Philpot I had written the listing before posting on here AND once you suggested Harry Davis I had a look at his pots - one in particular was slightly smaller than mine BUT it was very similar in shape and form though not in colour or decoration - Nevertheless I think your suggestion is probably correct but as you’d say impossible to prove conclusively.
Thanks for your input!
Kind regards
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Post by philpot December 2nd 2022, 5:22 pm

Its is a funny old market at the moment. I have sold some of the Leach earthenware pieces myself over the years, and they have never really got fantastic prices. The audience for them never seems that huge.
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Post by Neil62 December 2nd 2022, 5:39 pm

I just like collecting and selling - there are a few other pots I’ve kept 4 Bill Marshall Yunomis a jug and cylindrical vase by him.
I’ve sold some Michael Cardew pieces and BL. I think it’s all a strange market - I expected there to be a downturn in prices at auction and some of the lesser pots (not earthenware) probably have lost a little but the big hitters seem to go from strength to strength. I’ve said it before but I came into this far too late in life and wish I’d started decades ago like you and some of the others but my aim is to teach my as yet unborn grandchildren and get them interested early on in life! Unfortunately my son is only interested in NFT’s or something similar - he talks about digital creations worth small fortunes but are intangible zzzzzzz - I talk about Bernard and Janet Leach!!!
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Post by philpot December 2nd 2022, 6:19 pm

You might think carefully about your markets. Some of the very specialist stuff needs a very special market, where the serious collectors go. Although you will be charged a significant commission, you may well end up getting more than on Ebay. Did you keep up with the sale the Driscoll collection? He was a massive American collector, and his collection has been sold by Phillips and Maak over the past 18 months or so. Prices were interesting!
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Post by Neil62 December 2nd 2022, 6:38 pm

I did Philpot and I’ve bought a few pots from Maak though not from either of the auctions involving the Driscoll collection but there was some wonderful pieces.
I know what you are saying - it’s a bit early for me though I’m just evolving - I had an offer from a well known dealer to sell my JL pieces for me but … for me selling is half the fun.
Sounds a bit crass that but I mean it in the best way…..it allows me to learn!
I will consider it though in the future Philpot thanks as always the voice of reason!
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Post by studio-pots December 5th 2022, 3:30 pm

I have been dealing in studio pottery for around 30 years and back in the 1990s earthenware from the Leach Pottery and from Winchcombe was of more interest to the general potter collector than it is today and it would fetch more money and sell much quicker too. These days I haven't come across any newer collectors that are interested in this kind of thing. Therefore for it to fetch real money then it has to be pretty special from my experience, as the number of people interested in this pre War earthenware could perhaps be counted on one hand.

Looking at this vase I would suggest that the most likely maker would be Harry Davis and his work hasn't really ever fetched significant sums. Although I would argue, that out of Leach, Cardew and Davis he was the best thrower, it's perhaps that his view was that his pots should be top quality and affordable that has meant that prices have never been high. After leaving the Leach Pottery he made functional wares and had no interest in "exhibition pots".


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Post by studio-pots December 5th 2022, 3:42 pm

Neil62 wrote:I had an offer from a well known dealer to sell my JL pieces for me but … for me selling is half the fun.
Sounds a bit crass that but I mean it in the best way…..it allows me to learn!
I will consider it though in the future Philpot thanks as always the voice of reason!

I think you are correct in trying to sell things yourself and not accepting the offer of the "well known dealer" and my view is that you should never do so. The "well known dealer" is just offering to sell your items and taking commission rather than an auction house or eBay. If he really was a dealer then he would be dealing i.e. buying things from you outright at a negotiated price acceptable to you both and then trying to sell. A dealer that won't do that isn't worth the time of day.

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Post by Neil62 December 5th 2022, 4:03 pm

Hi Studio-pots,
I wouldn’t disagree with anything you say except I am a new collector/ seller of only 12 months and I am interested in the old Leach pots.
I can’t say that this one will sell and for the reasons I have given I’m not too bothered if it does or doesn’t - it won’t alter and it won’t get any younger. When I first read your comments I thought that I was confused about  It being made post war but of course you were meaning WW1.
Your comments about the dealer were similar to my views and I will just continue as I have been doing. I have made mistakes and made another one recently buying a BL bud vase.
I’m not going to ask for it’s ID as in my humble opinion it most definitely is by BL but someone challenged that assertion today - it is stamped England and St Ives but above the stamps there is BL written in the same colour as the albeit poor decoration.


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Post by philpot December 5th 2022, 4:49 pm

Its the ENGLAND mark that would would convince me that it was Not by Bernard Leach. It was a mark the pottery put on Standard ware in the 1960's as Purchase tax (the forerunner of VAT) was greater on foreign pottery. You would never get that mark on a Bernard or Janet Leach piece because their imprimatur identified it as made by an artist in resident in the UK. Hence the Purchase Tax rules did not apply.
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Post by studio-pots December 5th 2022, 5:39 pm

Neil62 wrote:Hi Studio-pots,
I wouldn’t disagree with anything you say except I am a new collector/ seller of only 12 months and I am interested in the old Leach pots.
I can’t say that this one will sell and for the reasons I have given I’m not too bothered if it does or doesn’t - it won’t alter and it won’t get any younger. When I first read your comments I thought that I was confused about  It being made post war but of course you were meaning WW1.
Your comments about the dealer were similar to my views and I will just continue as I have been doing. I have made mistakes and made another one recently buying a BL bud vase.
I’m not going to ask for it’s ID as in my humble opinion it most definitely is by BL but someone challenged that assertion today - it is stamped England and St Ives but above the stamps there is BL written in the same colour as the albeit poor decoration.


Firstly, it was my typing error and it now reads pre-War.

Secondly, you are a new collector but of a "certain age". Younger than me but unusual to be just starting at the age that you are. Most of the new collectors that contact me are in their 30s/40s.

I agree that the bud vase was decorated by Bernard Leach, so don't let anyone convince you otherwise. These and other items were made as part of the standard ware range, although these vases were decorated differently and not thrown always to be exactly the same. They were in stoneware and porcelain. In the 1975 Leach Pottery Standard Ware catalogue they were priced at £2 each. Your vase wouldn't have been thrown by Bernard (he wasn't able to throw that well) but decorated by him. I was told (by Bill Marshall) that Bernard decorated far more that he signed (including the Z bowls). If he was proud of his decoration then he would sign it. Of course, that is before firing and sometimes the firing process hid the brush decoration and affected the price.

One piece of advice - when I started collecting/dealing it was before the computer age. Then I could buy studio pottery from the major central London auction houses - only having to compete against 2 or 3 other dealers. It is about 8 years since I bought anything from an auction house or attended an auction. Almost all of the auctions in the UK are viewed around the world and most prices realised are far more than I could ever imagine getting for them, if I was selling those items.

Also throughout my dealing career, I have only rarely even been able to buy a piece of British studio pottery on eBay in order to re-sell. Today at least 95% of items on there are for sale at prices that exceed and often far exceed those that I am able to achieve.

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Post by philpot December 5th 2022, 5:53 pm

Fascinating comments there Studio. To me personally that just looks like an ordinary bud vase with fairly ordinary decoration. I must admit I have seen a lot better decoration on this type of Bud Vase. Laughter Although Bernard did have his off days.
A lot of sellers on Ebay seem to be wanting gallery prices. They are just not going to get them, unless a Potter is Really in demand.
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Post by Neil62 December 5th 2022, 6:10 pm

Hi Philpot - usually I agree with you but not on this occasion.
You are quoting hard and fast rules which just were not there. I have some standard ware which has no stamp - why because someone forgot to stamp it.
I read somewhere on the Forum that Janet only stamped ‘repeat’ on the standardware that she produced - I’ve not seen much of her standardware and the only pieces which would fit that vague description are the square dishes with trailed decoration which are usually stamped repeat.
BUT I have a piece by Janet, a sake bottle, with repeat on it. I have documents from John Bedding and Joanna Wason who cannot explain it - they just say she only did it on the square dishes but…..there it is.
I think to accept your explanation that this is a forgery which is what you are saying is to believe that someone c.1960’ish working at the pottery forged their employer / mentor’s signature on a pot prior to it being fired - then decorated it and stamped it with the two stamps.
The bud vases were not that expensive so whilst it may have increased its value it would also have gotten those that did it the sack if they had been caught.
No there are other alternative explanations which are more plausible including that BL picked up a pre stamped vase decorated it (don’t know - wax resist?) and signed it prior to it being fired.
The point about the England mark being used from 1960 by Leach pottery.
I understand that this feature was introduced by David Leach whilst BL was in Japan so pre 1955 when David Left.
1960 was the year I was born so the only reference point I have is the McKinley Act 1821.
I can’t say when the mark was used or when it stopped being used but I don’t think the fact it’s stamped England means it is not by BL and is therefore a forgery given the above.

Sorry to disagree but we are all entitled to our own opinions. I have sent photographs on to the craft centre for their opinion but my own is it’s an unimpressive piece - I don’t like it but it is by BL.

Regarding the later comment regarding prices on eBay and sellers wanting gallery prices - Frankly I’ll sell my pieces for what I think they are worth and that’s the end of that conversation -,if people buy them then that’s good. I know the prices paid at auction and then what the galleries sell them at so I don’t think there’s much room for debate there and whilst I am respectful I am old enough to have my own opinion and I know what I paid for it at auction!
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Post by studio-pots December 5th 2022, 6:10 pm

philpot wrote:Fascinating comments there Studio. To me personally that just looks like an ordinary bud vase with fairly ordinary decoration. I must admit I have seen a lot better decoration on this type of Bud Vase. Laughter Although Bernard did have his off days.
            A lot of sellers on Ebay seem to be wanting gallery prices. They are just not going to get them, unless a Potter is Really in demand.

Items that Bernard decorated and liked well enough to sign would naturally be signed before the item was fired. Sometimes the firing process could destroy some or all of the decoration that Bernard thought was good.

Regarding eBay sellers, my only change to what you have written would be to add "more than" before "gallery prices". Having said that, what specific people are going to pay from a top end gallery is going to be more far more than I could ever hope to achieve and I have realised that for many a long year. Those people are never going to lower themselves and buy from the likes of me but, likewise, are never going to trawl through lists of items on eBay.

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Post by Neil62 December 5th 2022, 6:28 pm

studio-pots wrote:
Neil62 wrote:Hi Studio-pots,
I wouldn’t disagree with anything you say except I am a new collector/ seller of only 12 months and I am interested in the old Leach pots.
I can’t say that this one will sell and for the reasons I have given I’m not too bothered if it does or doesn’t - it won’t alter and it won’t get any younger. When I first read your comments I thought that I was confused about  It being made post war but of course you were meaning WW1.
Your comments about the dealer were similar to my views and I will just continue as I have been doing. I have made mistakes and made another one recently buying a BL bud vase.
I’m not going to ask for it’s ID as in my humble opinion it most definitely is by BL but someone challenged that assertion today - it is stamped England and St Ives but above the stamps there is BL written in the same colour as the albeit poor decoration.


Firstly, it was my typing error and it now reads pre-War.

Secondly, you are a new collector but of a "certain age". Younger than me but unusual to be just starting at the age that you are. Most of the new collectors that contact me are in their 30s/40s.

I agree that the bud vase was decorated by Bernard Leach, so don't let anyone convince you otherwise. These and other items were made as part of the standard ware range, although these vases were decorated differently and not thrown always to be exactly the same. They were in stoneware and porcelain. In the 1975 Leach Pottery Standard Ware catalogue they were priced at £2 each. Your vase wouldn't have been thrown by Bernard (he wasn't able to throw that well) but decorated by him. I was told (by Bill Marshall) that Bernard decorated far more that he signed (including the Z bowls). If he was proud of his decoration then he would sign it. Of course, that is before firing and sometimes the firing process hid the brush decoration and affected the price.

One piece of advice - when I started collecting/dealing it was before the computer age. Then I could buy studio pottery from the major central London auction houses - only having to compete against 2 or 3 other dealers. It is about 8 years since I bought anything from an auction house or attended an auction. Almost all of the auctions in the UK are viewed around the world and most prices realised are far more than I could ever imagine getting for them, if I was selling those items.

Also throughout my dealing career, I have only rarely even been able to buy a piece of British studio pottery on eBay in order to re-sell. Today at least 95% of items on there are for sale at prices that exceed and often far exceed those that I am able to achieve.

Top man - I like the “of a certain age”. I’m glad you agree it was decorated by BL - I have only just seen your post so forgive my slight annoyance (particularly as you agree with me). I’ve loads to learn and not enough time to do it but I’m keen to learn. I don’t usually buy and then resell on eBay but I have done so twice recently, one a piece by DL the other a piece by BL I bought them both cheaply and sold them for more than I paid, one of them more than double what I paid.
I buy from auctions I don’t do car boots or charity shops but the mistakes I make are all down to not going to the auction but bidding online without seeing the piece and that’s what happened with the bud vase. I am an honest person - my listing basically says it’s impressive but by BL.
I do have original standard ware brochures from 1946, 1952 and 1976 but only for reference.
I do it because I enjoy it and I enjoy learning.
I was pretty sure you meant pre-war but I thought it diplomatic to phrase my response to you in the way I did largely because I have a lot to learn!!!

I note you say it’s 8 years since you attended an auction - do you concentrate on exhibitions now?


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Post by studio-pots December 5th 2022, 6:36 pm

Neil62 wrote:
I read somewhere on the Forum that Janet only stamped ‘repeat’ on the standardware that she produced - I’ve not seen much of her standardware and the only pieces which would fit that vague description are the square dishes with trailed decoration which are usually stamped repeat.
BUT I have a piece by Janet, a sake bottle, with repeat on it. I have documents from John Bedding and Joanna Wason who cannot explain it - they just say she only did it on the square dishes but…..there it is.

Janet Leach's "repeat" range was really to have a variety of work available for all visitors to the Leach Pottery to be able to afford something. When I first visited the Pottery, the footed dishes were the only "REPEAT" items available. That was before Joanna went to work there but a long time after John Bedding left. I have seen several of the sake bottles that you mention and so to me it seems likely that at some point, probably in the 1980s, she threw a number of these to serve the same purpose as the footed dishes did later on.

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Post by Neil62 December 5th 2022, 6:52 pm

studio-pots wrote:
philpot wrote:Fascinating comments there Studio. To me personally that just looks like an ordinary bud vase with fairly ordinary decoration. I must admit I have seen a lot better decoration on this type of Bud Vase. Laughter Although Bernard did have his off days.
            A lot of sellers on Ebay seem to be wanting gallery prices. They are just not going to get them, unless a Potter is Really in demand.

Items that Bernard decorated and liked well enough to sign would naturally be signed before the item was fired. Sometimes the firing process could destroy some or all of the decoration that Bernard thought was good.

Regarding eBay sellers, my only change to what you have written would be to add "more than" before "gallery prices". Having said that, what specific people are going to pay from a top end gallery is going to be more far more than I could ever hope to achieve and I have realised that for many a long year. Those people are never going to lower themselves and buy from the likes of me but, likewise, are never going to trawl through lists of items on eBay.

Hi Studio pots,
You sound very…I can’t think of a word which wouldn’t sound condescending so I’ll just say you sound sad at the studio pottery business.
I do understand what you are saying but I don’t know enough of your background / history so it’s difficult to agree or disagree with your situation.
I hope you are comfortably well off and your comments make total sense to me.

The people who can afford to pay gallery prices won’t be scouring eBay which I accept.

You always respond in a pleasant l, diplomatic and polite way and that should have stood you in good stead in your career.

I’m sure it must have been your advice I followed about going to auctions and exhibitions and picking up these pieces!!
Got to be you and you were so correct!
Kind regards
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Post by studio-pots December 5th 2022, 6:54 pm





I note you say it’s 8 years since you attended an auction - do you concentrate on exhibitions now?



All of the old British studio pottery that I have bought in the last 8 years has been from collectors, most of whom have been customers of mine, which is a great advantage. It does mean that some, but by no means all, of the old pots on my website in recent years have been sold by me before. On occasions I have sold pots three times but I don't make a habit of it!

The reality today is that generally speaking for every £100 of the hammer price that an item makes at auction the buyer is going to pay £130 and the seller is going to receive around £65. Much better to sell to someone like me that is going to offer a price or to accept what they require without all that trouble. If there's anything left over that isn't of interest to me then it does often go to auction.

However, recently I have become excited by a few youngish ceramicists that are currently working and decided to try and sell new work again. I began feeling as if I was picking over the "bones of the dead"

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Post by Neil62 December 5th 2022, 7:13 pm

I note you say it’s 8 years since you attended an auction - do you concentrate on exhibitions now?


[/quote]

All of the old British studio pottery that I have bought in the last 8 years has been from collectors, most of whom have been customers of mine, which is a great advantage. It does mean that some, but by no means all, of the old pots on my website in recent years have been sold by me before. On occasions I have sold pots three times but I don't make a habit of it!

The reality today is that generally speaking for every £100 of the hammer price that an item makes at auction the buyer is going to pay £130 and the seller is going to receive around £65. Much better to sell to someone like me that is going to offer a price or to accept what they require without all that trouble. If there's anything left over that isn't of interest to me then it does often go to auction.[/quote]

Too true.
I’ve spent a couple of minutes searching for you so I know now whom I am conversing with.
I’ve had a look on your site.
I’ll message you after Christmas there are a couple of items I like - I’d do it before but I have some commitments before Xmas.
All the best
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Post by philpot December 5th 2022, 7:54 pm

I am not saying that the specimen vase is a forgery my . But what I am saying that for me  purely personally it is not the best decoration I have seen. The adding of a script BL signature does make it of any greater value to me personally. But then I have never collected or fancied Bernard Leach's work, so  I am probably biased!  
              The Leach pottery of course was a busy working environment. With lots of things going on. Marks can be missed, things can be done differently from the norm. So odd things turn up. The demand for those interesting bits can only be determined bt the market.
                 The large collectors of Leach pottery were the Boomer Post-War generation who grew up in the 60's and 70's when Bernard Leach and his family were very famous potters. That generation is elderly or deceased now, so the market for Leach pottery is not what it once was.
                    To me the most interesting Leach standard ware is the Oak leaf decorated pieces  that were produced late 40's to early mid 50's. I have a complete tea set of that, and love it!


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Post by Neil62 December 5th 2022, 8:15 pm

I note you say it’s 8 years since you attended an auction - do you concentrate on exhibitions now?


[/quote]

All of the old British studio pottery that I have bought in the last 8 years has been from collectors, most of whom have been customers of mine, which is a great advantage. It does mean that some, but by no means all, of the old pots on my website in recent years have been sold by me before. On occasions I have sold pots three times but I don't make a habit of it!

The reality today is that generally speaking for every £100 of the hammer price that an item makes at auction the buyer is going to pay £130 and the seller is going to receive around £65. Much better to sell to someone like me that is going to offer a price or to accept what they require without all that trouble. If there's anything left over that isn't of interest to me then it does often go to auction.

However, recently I have become excited by a few youngish ceramicists that are currently working and decided to try and sell new work again. I began feeling as if I was picking over the "bones of the dead"[/quote]

I can get that - I have got a few pieces by Jack Doherty and just bought one from his recent firing. I like his work and my regret is I sold a piece of his he made when at Leach.
It was one of those that I put on eBay at a price I thought was reasonable but It sold within 15 minutes …..obviously it was underpriced!!!
I’m still interested in the history which you’ve been through and come out the other side I think.
The only other living potter I’ve got examples of is Jim Malone but both Jim and Jack are in their 70’s and well established.
Enjoyed engaging with you
Kind regards
Neil62
Neil62

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Leach Pottery and musings on pottery dealing Empty Re: Leach Pottery and musings on pottery dealing

Post by studio-pots December 5th 2022, 8:15 pm

Having to power to do such a thing, I think that it might be best to move this thread to "General Pottery Discussion" ? How does everyone feel about that?

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