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For the love of pottery: Single owner Moorcroft Collection to be sold at Bonhams
The iconic Moorcroft brand was given the Royal stamp of approval by Queen Mary, a keen collector of the work, who granted a Royal warrant. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- A special single-owner collection of early 20th century British ceramics worth £300,000-400,000 will go under the hammer on 21st May at Bonhams , the world’s third largest international fine art auction house. The sale will take place at the Knightsbridge salerooms.

The Ken Manley Collection of Moorcroft Pottery, lovingly built over 40 years, consists of over 200 pieces, from vases to platters, mugs to jardinières.

The stars of the sale are three pairs of vases: the pair named ‘Cornflower’, circa 1912, are estimated to sell for £7,000-9,000. ‘Eventide’, circa 1925 and ‘Tulip’, circa 1900, are both estimated at £6,000-8,000.

Another highlight is a cup in the traditional shape of a ‘tyg’, or mug with three or more handles dividing the rim into sections for several drinkers. Though production of these types of cups generally declined after the 17th century, Moorcroft revels in reviving a traditionally British form and updating it for modern times. This classically decorated and gilt Moorcroft example, produced in 1908 but titled ‘Eighteenth Century’, is estimated at £5,000-6,000.

Also offered is ‘Pomegranate’, a rare Advertising Plate circa 1916. Estimated at £4,000-5,000, the plate features ‘Moorcroft Pottery’ across the front with painted pomegranates above and below.

Mark Oliver Director of Design for Bonhams commented: “I had the pleasure of knowing Ken Manley for 20 years as a client. His enthusiasm and knowledge of Moorcroft pottery was unsurpassed. Ken took great delight in the hunt for that special piece to add to his ever growing collection. Woe betide anyone who was trying to outbid him in the saleroom as he was very determined in his pursuit of a piece that had taken his eye! As an auctioneer I knew that we were likely to have a successful sale if I saw Ken take up his favourite position in the front row. There is a tinge of sadness in selling the collection of a man who was lost before his time, but I envy the new generation of enthusiast who will now take home a piece of the prestigious Ken Manley Collection.”

William Moorcroft
Hired as a designer in 1897 by Staffordshire pottery manufacturers James Macintyre & Co. Ltd, within a year William Moorcroft rose to manager of their art pottery studio. Moorcroft’s first innovative range of pottery, called Florian Ware, was a great success and won him a gold medal at the St. Louis International Exhibition in 1904. Unusually at that time, he adopted the practice of signing his name, or his initials, on nearly all the pottery he designed, the production of which he personally oversaw.

In 1913 he left to found his own company, moving to factory premises nearby. The Moorcroft factory produced an extensive array of moderately-priced domestic tableware items in addition to its famous hand-painted art pottery. Moorcroft’s reputation was enhanced when Queen Mary, a keen collector of his works, granted him a royal warrant in 1928. Today, Moorcroft continues to lead the world of art pottery with its distinctive design style.

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