Leach Pottery and musings on pottery dealing

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Post by Neil62 December 5th 2022, 8:23 pm

philpot wrote: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, si  I probably biased!  Leach Pottery and musings on pottery dealing - Page 2 1f606  but have collected David, Janet, and John Leach, plus Bill Marshall.
              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!

Hi Philpot,
Perhaps there was some misapprehension between us. From my perspective if something has the artists signature on it and your belief is that it isn’t by that artist then the logical explanation is that it is a forgery.
I think that we can forget that. One thing we can agree on is it isn’t either the most imposing or overwhelming decoration and I cannot hide my disappointment at that.
I collect David Leach, Janet Leach and Bill Marshall amongst others as well as standard ware.
I have seen the oak leaf pattern but I haven’t got any and yes they are nice …… better than my bud vase ….100%
Kind regards
Neil62
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Post by croker December 5th 2022, 9:40 pm

Hi,Niel62, I hope you realise that every collector of certain makers will have been alerted to the pieces at auction that you bid on, for instance every serious collector of Janet leach would be aware of the pieces you bought at Stroud auctions and more importantly how much you paid, this makes it near impossible, unless you are very lucky to buy at auction and sell at a profit on Ebay. As studio pots says the trade has changed dramatically not only in studio pottery but also in other areas of collecting. The business of someone offering to sell items for you on commission is common practice in the antiques trade and when you think about it it's not much different than selling through an auction, the dealer you spoke about probably had a fair in mind.
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Post by Neil62 December 5th 2022, 10:23 pm

croker wrote:Hi,Niel62, I hope you realise that every collector of certain makers will have been alerted to the pieces at auction that you bid on, for instance every serious collector of Janet leach would be aware of the pieces you bought at Stroud auctions and more importantly how much you paid, this makes it near impossible, unless you are very lucky to buy at auction and sell at a profit on Ebay. As studio pots says the trade has changed dramatically not only in studio pottery but also in other areas of collecting. The business of someone offering to sell items for you on commission is common practice in the antiques trade and when you think about it it's not much different than selling through an auction, the dealer you spoke about probably had a fair in mind.

Hi Croker,
I’m not really sure of the point you are making. Of course I am aware that other collectors will be aware of the pottery I purchased from Stroud auctions and probably the other 50 or so auctions throughout the country and abroad I’ve bought from in the last 12 months.
To be honest I’ve just had to check my invoices as to what I bought from Stroud - it was such a long time ago!!!
Obviously made an impression on you… but I don’t understand the point you are trying to make …..that I am asking for more than I paid for the items……shock horror do you buy anything and sell it for less than you paid for it?
I’ve sold a few pieces from that lot, one I remember amongst other pieces went to Canada others went back to Cornwall but there are some which I like and I am not looking to sell quickly except if the offer was right.
But what you point out works both ways it also means that I am aware of what others have paid for example for Janet Leach pieces and I am also aware of the prices the person offering to sell my pieces for me had paid for the pieces he was selling ……I don’t understand the point you are making unless you think I don’t understand the marketplace and I can assure you I do. Do I make mistakes of course I do but for a novice Im doing pretty well thank you very much and the customers I have seem to be happy so it’s all good.
I don’t know how much you know about eBay but all I will say is you are so wrong about your assertions and clearly do not know much about it.
Regards and thanks for the advice but I’ll just carry on as I have been doing. Studio pots is correct the business is changing - I don’t know whether that is for the better or worse because I didn’t know what took place years ago - I just know I try to be honest and fair and if, as it seems, it works well I’ll continue!
All the best Croker
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Post by philpot December 6th 2022, 8:10 am

This is a very interesting discussion but I agree with Studio that it probably needs moving.
We are now entering the worst economic period since the 2008/2009. Probably far worse. This is definitely reflected on Ebay, and it is only going to get worse. Very Generally the small ticket items, seem to be ticking over. But the large ticket items seem to be hanging around for a long time. Probably because the high priced items are only really bought by collectors who are looking for very specific items. Equally they have a good idea of the market price, and are looking for a bargain. I think this is reflected in your sales Neil. Your lower ticket items ate ticking over well, your higher ticket items are having lower sales.
Traditional auctions used to be mainly the preserve of the Antiques Trade. The auctioneers were the wholesalers selling at wholesale prices. The Internet changed that, and hence the whole of the Antiques Trade. A very significant proportion of the buyers in Traditional auctions are now Private Buyers. Which has been reflected over the years by the ever increasing Buyer's Premium.
If you are having fun buying from ordinary auctions and selling on Ebay, that is great. It can be a heady and exciting business. As a hobby it is fabulous. But I think we would probably all agree on here that in the long terms you are not going to make a huge amount of money out of it.


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Post by Neil62 December 6th 2022, 10:02 am

philpot wrote:This is a very interesting  discussion but I agree with Studio that it probably needs moving.
          We are now entering the worst economic period since the 2008/2009. Probably far worse.  This is definitely reflected on Ebay, and it is only going to get worse. Very Generally the small ticket items, seem to be ticking over. But the large ticket items seem to be hanging around for a long time. Probably because the high priced items are only really bought by collectors who are looking for very specific items. Equally they have a good idea of the market  price, and are looking for a bargain. I think this is reflected in your sales Neil. Your lower ticket items ate ticking over well, your higher ticket items are having lower sales.
                Traditional auctions used to be mainly the preserve of the Antiques Trade. The auctioneers were the wholesalers selling at wholesale prices. The Internet changed that, and hence the whole of the Antiques Trade.   A very significant proportion of the buyers in Traditional auctions are now Private Buyers. Which has been reflected over the years by the ever increasing Buyer's Premium.
          If you are having fun buying from ordinary auctions and selling on Ebay, that is great. It can be a heady and exciting business. As a hobby it is fabulous. But I think we would probably all agree on here that in the long terms you are not going to make a huge amount of money out of it.
         
               
               
Hi Philpot,

I’m glad you approve of what I do, though if I am to be frank I do not seek yours or anyone else’s approval. I have explained my business plan which is basically collect studio pottery by purchasing at auctions and then offering it for sale on eBay.
It allows me to see far more studio pottery than I would otherwise be able to see if If I were simply collecting.

The price I ask for is determined by many factors one of which is how much I DON’T want to sell it because ostensibly I am a collector.

I will put you straight on a couple of your comments relating to high ticket items I know what I could sell them for and when, and if, I tire of them I will lower their price and they will sell but for now I am happy doing what I am doing.
I never suggested that my aim was to become rich - your presumption being that I am not rich already, which I am not, though I am in life if not in monetary terms.

What is a high ticket item - what is the protocol for determining that?

I have over 100 items on my listings - I would probably say off the top of my head there are about 20 what you are probably referring to as ‘high ticket’ items (I could be wrong) but common sense and simple statistics say that if 80% of my listings are the lower end then I am going to be selling a significant proportion more of those in comparison with the high end tickets.
The most I have sold an item for on eBay £3200, the least 50p bought actually by a gallery!
I suspect that covers the entire gamut of high and low end tickets. I’ve sold to Japan, America (many occasions) Switzerland and Canada regarding what I think you would call high ticket items.

What I have done is what anyone can do - start a collection expand it with minimal investment by buying, selling and reinvesting (not rocket science) - developing it into a business which is doing very nicely but there is always room for improvement.
My aims are to ensure that I keep the people who buy from me happy, be open, honest and fair with them and eventually to have £100,000 worth of pottery (saleable value) in stock. If during the course of that I feel the need to move away from eBay I will but for the moment I am making a living from doing what I am doing. I am self-employed and put a lot of effort into what I do and I pay my taxes at the end of every year like I should.
Before anyone points out that I have only been selling this financial year which is true I have been self-employed for over 12 years.
I have simply changed direction.

The point you make about buying from ordinary auctions is something you will have to explain as well because I buy from wherever the pots I collect are sold. I wouldn’t buy from the London auction houses largely because of the additional costs involved though I have bought from Maak on a few occasions (pick up Oxford), also Drewaats, AP, David Lay, Barbara Kirk and too many others to go through.
But it is often the smaller auctions who have the ‘more interesting’ lots. I bought a lovely DL piece sold between two washing machines which to give you some idea of the auction sold for £5 each!

Given you are interested and comment on what I do can I know who you are and ergo what you do please?

It does help to formulate how much stock I give to opinions particularly those who say that something I have bought as by Bernard Leach is definitely not by BL but then appear to change their mind when someone else decides it is 100% correct.
I find the comments on this forum to be extremely useful, helpful and I value what is said. That comment yesterday was not one of those and it would be wrong for me to say it was.
I appreciate people hold opinions but if that opinion can change so quickly, perhaps it was not one held with conviction, and should not have been expressed.
You are clearly entitled to your opinion but what you have to realise is that I am a novice and someone with decades more experience than I have giving any opinion will have an effect on me - I am quickly learning that perhaps that’s not the way I should be and that those, even with decades of experience, can be wrong on the simplest of issues whereas prior to yesterday I wouldn’t have thought that.
Sorry to be blunt but I am reflecting and defending the comments made towards me.

Merry Christmas
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Post by philpot December 6th 2022, 10:42 am

Sorry if you take offence Neil. If you look at the general trend of this thread it is only that we are all offering similar sort of advice. In today's market it is going to be Very,Very difficult to make a living out of buying studio pottery at auction and selling it on Ebay. Good luck to you.
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Post by Neil62 December 6th 2022, 10:50 am

philpot wrote:Sorry if you take offence Neil. If you look at the general trend of this thread it is only that we are all offering similar sort of advice. In today's market it is going to be Very,Very difficult to make a living out of buying studio pottery at auction and selling it on Ebay. Good luck to you.

No problem Philpot- apology accepted and thank you for your good wishes.
Water under the bridge my friend!
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Post by Potty December 6th 2022, 1:13 pm

philpot wrote:In today's market it is going to be Very,Very difficult to make a living out of buying studio pottery at auction and selling it on Ebay.

It all depends on your point of view really, many people that turn hobbies into their work like this are doing it because they enjoy it, they "work"(fun) very long hours and do not value their time as one in a "normal job" would. They can still make a living this way, even if they are not even earning minimum wage based on their hours spent working.

If Neil is both making a living that he is happy with and building up the value of his stock, then he is certainly doing something right and good on him Most Excellent

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Post by Neil62 December 6th 2022, 1:17 pm

Potty wrote:
philpot wrote:In today's market it is going to be Very,Very difficult to make a living out of buying studio pottery at auction and selling it on Ebay.

It all depends on your point of view really, many people that turn hobbies into their work like this are doing it because they enjoy it, they "work"(fun) very long hours and do not value their time as one in a "normal job" would. They can still make a living this way, even if they are not even earning minimum wage based on their hours spent working.

If Neil is both making a living that he is happy with and building up the value of his stock, then he is certainly doing something right and good on him Most Excellent


👍 many thanks Potty - a fair view and about the way I see it!
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Post by Potty December 6th 2022, 1:29 pm

Sellers like this also help collectors greatly. I recently bought a Leach piece (I'm not a Leach collector, this one just caught my eye) that I know was bought in auction for £55 inc fees, I paid £90 to include p&p. It would have cost me more than the £35 difference to attend the auction and I also have protection in terms of item condition and delivery.

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Post by studio-pots December 7th 2022, 12:19 am

Neil62 wrote:

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.


If I sound sad then I don't feel it. What I am trying to do is be realistic and tell it like it is. I had no illusions about becoming "a millionaire" when I gave up a secure profession over 30 years ago. I just wanted to do things that I enjoyed and make enough to be comfortably off and pay the mortgage that I had. I didn't want to reach retirement age and realised I have spent the bulk of my life doing something I didn't enjoy. I dealt in other things back then and did other jobs as well during the first 10 years but nothing permanent.

I took over the Harlequin Gallery in early 1999 and before doing so did have discussions with the potter, Phil Rogers, who I knew well. I always remember him saying that all the ceramic gallery owners he knew at that time either had private wealth; other income or their partner was well off/could support them.

I had none of those things but because the rent of the original premises was not a market rent I was able to survive and do OK. For the first ten years I staged 10 exhibitions a year, generally of contemporary studio pottery, and did what I wanted to do, that was, to promote studio pottery and art that I liked and try and take it to a wider audience.

I feel happy that I did that and when the gallery space was no longer available I continued from home with a smaller exhibition space, although I did hold exhibitions of contemporary work in other parts of the country on occasions. However, the work of contemporary potters made way for older work over the years and I have continued that way to date. I am now of pension age and I am not as active with the ceramics, as I organise other things locally for the "love" or interest i.e. no monetary gain.

I suppose what I am saying is that if you have a dream to become a dealer then go for it but just don't over commit.

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Post by Neil62 December 7th 2022, 8:00 am

studio-pots wrote:
Neil62 wrote:

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.


If I sound sad then I don't feel it. What I am trying to do is be realistic and tell it like it is. I had no illusions about becoming "a millionaire" when I gave up a secure profession over 30 years ago. I just wanted to do things that I enjoyed and make enough to be comfortably off and pay the mortgage that I had. I didn't want to reach retirement age and realised I have spent the bulk of my life doing something I didn't enjoy. I dealt in other things back then and did other jobs as well during the first 10 years but nothing permanent.

I took over the Harlequin Gallery in early 1999 and before doing so did have discussions with the potter, Phil Rogers, who I knew well. I always remember him saying that all the ceramic gallery owners he knew at that time either had private wealth; other income or their partner was well off/could support them.

I had none of those things but because the rent of the original premises was not a market rent I was able to survive and do OK. For the first ten years I staged 10 exhibitions a year, generally of contemporary studio pottery, and did what I wanted to do, that was, to promote studio pottery and art that I liked and try and take it to a wider audience.

I feel happy that I did that and when the gallery space was no longer available I continued from home with a smaller exhibition space, although I did hold exhibitions of contemporary work in other parts of the country on occasions. However, the work of contemporary potters made way for older work over the years and I have continued that way to date. I am now of pension age and I am not as active with the ceramics, as I organise other things locally for the "love" or interest i.e. no monetary gain.

I suppose what I am saying is that if you have a dream to become a dealer then go for it but just don't over commit.

Hi Studio-pots,
Interesting and very honest and the advice will be taken on board!
I suppose I fall in between two stools because I started very late in life I’d worked doing something which I loved for 30 years and then retired with a pension I then became self-employed but didn’t have a mortgage and so my commitments are / were not what yours were. I had retainers which meant even though I didn’t actively seek work as self employed I had money coming in. That ended this year and the hobby of collecting which started at the end of 2021 became my choice of “work”. I have to do something or I would go crazy and this seemed an ideal vehicle so I can invest as much as I want (within reason), when I want and sell it as I want without much risk because I don’t have to depend on what the pots sell at (or not) to survive. My legacy with my children will be determined by what pots are left when I kipper it!
I can see an issue which one of the comments raised regarding the age of “Leach” collectors and whether those collectors are getting fewer and fewer. I agree that is a generational problem but I also think BL, JL, DL, BM, RF, PR and many others will be collected beyond that generation.
I would love to collect a ‘new potters’ work and support them but the ones I see don’t float my boat in the same way that the aforementioned do. I don’t like sculptured pots and though I very much like the Japanese work (within parameters) I can’t read Japanese and it’s very much a risky proposition to take on without knowledge.
The person whose work I will collect as I have said previously is Jack Doherty’s - connected to the Leach and creating work I like. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the Leach potters work who are working there now and I must start buying from them for the future.
Anyway Studio-pots thank you for sharing your story and keep potting on!
Regards
Neil62

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Post by philpot December 7th 2022, 9:50 am

Its interesting looking back on Auction price records for the major potters over the years. Christies Past Results go back near 30 years, Bonhams near 20 years. Before the 2008 crash they were substantial players in the Studio Pottery auction field. Even the Maak search now goes back near a decade!
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Post by Neil62 December 7th 2022, 10:06 am

philpot wrote:Its interesting looking back on Auction price records for the major potters over the years. Christies Past Results go back near 30 years, Bonhams near 20 years. Before the 2008 crash they were substantial players in the Studio Pottery auction field. Even the Maak  search now goes back near a decade!


Very much in agreement Philpot - I would venture to add that they have been good investments over the years accruing value and protecting against inflation….no different to stocks and shares probably up to this point.
I don’t see any depreciation in the current market at auction. I think the price I paid for my, and we both agree on this, BL piece, unimpressed by it as I am (and you) bears testament to that.
I can’t give an opinion about gallery business or anywhere else other than eBay but certainly it seems OK.
Maak is a good barometer, I think, as to the state of the market. I thought the only pieces which didn’t attract the correct figures were by DL. The timed sale means that bids can be placed and they are not dependent upon being able to bid at a set time.
I bid on some of the items but they went for more than I was prepared to go ….so I thought that was a good sign of the buoyancy of the market but as you said previously these are early days!
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Post by studio-pots December 7th 2022, 2:51 pm

David Leach's work is slow to sell and has been for probably 10 years. He worked over a long period and made loads of pots and so collectors can afford to be picky and wait. It's also my view that with people passing away and down-sizing in old age that there will continue to be plenty of David's work coming onto the market. With David Leach, and any other potters for that matter, my advise is buy what you like and not on name only. In my early days I would buy something if it was the right price to sell on, if it had the "right" mark, but not for many a year. The reality is that you are not going to make a profit on everything you buy and sometimes you take a loss to move on things you dislike. However, if you buy what you like then you don't mind them hanging around.


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Post by Neil62 December 7th 2022, 3:35 pm

studio-pots wrote:David Leach's work is slow to sell and has been for probably 10 years. He worked over a long period and made loads of pots and so collectors can afford to be picky and wait. It's also my view that with people passing away and down-sizing in old age that there will continue to be plenty of David's work coming onto the market. With David Leach, and any other potters for that matter, my advise is buy what you like and not on name only. In my early days I would buy something if it was the right price to sell on, if it had the "right" mark, but not for many a year. The reality is that you are not going to make a profit on everything you buy and sometimes you take a loss to move on things you dislike. However, if you buy what you like then you don't mind them hanging around.


I agree with what you say and I think I have been guilty of buying a name and mark rather than on occasions what I like. Janet Leach is possibly the exception as I bought her work because I like it and as I said before I’m not bothered about it selling. I’ve a couple of Hamada pieces which I won’t sell. The DL pieces I’ve got I like though after a while I sort of get fed up with them (awful thing to say) but I think it’s because they are almost too well made - I hope you get what Inam trying to say. JL pieces hold my attention because they aren’t perfect and weren’t meant to be I suppose! I bought another BL piece last week but it is one of them I don’t mind hanging onto!
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Post by Neil62 December 7th 2022, 6:40 pm

Hi Gentlemen,
I was thinking about our conversation about studio pottery, auctions eBay and other matters which we are all interested in. I was reviewing some of my invoices and realised I had actually purchased an item at Maak by BL which was part of the Dr J P Driscoll collection - I’d forgotten!!
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Post by philpot December 8th 2022, 10:57 am

A very interesting conversation. One gets the feeling that there is a book to be written about the whole Leach school and its influence on modern British studio pottery. Yet no one has touched on the third generation of Leach style Potters. The three we all tend to talk about and the late Phil Rogers, Jim Malone and Mike Dodd, although there are many more! What are the opinions on these potters?
Equally of course the potter of the Leach school who has had the most attention recently is Richard Batterham. A full scale retrospective exhibition at the V&A which went on for over a year. Matched with a fine book published by the V&A. He was an apprentice at the Leach pottery for a couple of years in the 50's. Yet would one describe his work as Leach school? It is almost entirely unique to itself.
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Post by 22 Crawford St. December 8th 2022, 10:03 pm

I think there is a place on EB for Neil's type of dealing. I've been selling my collection of Automatic Sports/Diver watches in a similar fashion. Bought them - enjoyed them - kept them a few years, now time to sell on EB. Price range £200 - £600

Put the price up high then drop slowly and every now and then a I get a bite. No great hurry to sell is the advantage (as with Neil). I just do BIN as it's hardball and the offers thing can piss people off, so it's take it or leave it price.

Strangely I've had some success with putting the price up  Shrugs . Also things sell late at night ...methinks people come home from the pub  after watching an item for ages and ages and just say ...f**k it and buy it
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Post by Neil62 December 8th 2022, 10:32 pm

Very much my way 22, Crawford St.
If I can do the price offered I will - if I can’t I don’t.
I did think the prices at Mallam today were less than I expected but still paid higher than expected for PR - then others for less than I expected - perhaps that’s the time of year but all in all I thought it was good.
I don’t think anything I’m doing is special - but I do enjoy it and like 22 Crawford Street intimated - he’s selling for something at a price others are prepared to pay ……..all good to me and Happy Christmas to one and all!!
Been in pub!!
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Post by studio-pots December 8th 2022, 11:02 pm

Neil62 wrote:Very much my way 22, Crawford St.
If I can do the price offered I will - if I can’t I don’t.
I did think the prices at Mallam today were less than I expected but still paid higher than expected for PR - then others for less than I expected - perhaps that’s the time of year but all in all I thought it was good.
I don’t think anything I’m doing is special - but I do enjoy it and like 22 Crawford Street intimated - he’s selling for something at a price others are prepared to pay ……..all good to me and Happy Christmas to one and all!!
Been in pub!!

My experience of Mallams auctions was that a significant amount of the studio pottery that they sold had damage or restoration that wasn't mentioned and so low prices could just reflect that the lots were not as described. However, several of my overseas customers have been buying from there recently, without any problems, and so they may have cleaned up their act.

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Now you should know by now that Potty and I need to see your bottom - we're funny that way!
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