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Preview: 20th Century Design Sale 15th June

1st May 2024.

An extensive collection of over 350 pieces of 20th century British Studio Pottery is to come under the hammer in Tennants Auctioneers’ 20th Century Design Sale on 15th June. The Michael Claxon Collection was put together between 1974 and 2024, and the majority of the pots were purchased directly from the potters. Potters represented in the 93-lot collection include such greats as David Leach, Richard Batterham, David Roberts, Mike Dodd, Phil Rogers, and Jim Malone. Highlights of the collection include a Stoneware Ovoid Jar by David Leach (estimate: £600-900 all figures exclude buyer’s premium), a large Raku Ceramic Vessel by David Roberts (estimate: £400-600), and a Stoneware Bowl by Richard Batterham (estimate: £200-300).

Leading the Arts and Crafts section of the sale is a fine Pair of Cymric Silver and Enamel Vases designed by Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co. (estimate: £12,000-15,000). Knox was born on the Isle of Man to Scottish parents, and his Celtic heritage exerted a powerful influence on the young designer, who would go onto introduce Celtic motifs into his designs. He moved to London in c.1896 to study under and work for leading designer Christopher Dresser. Following a period teaching and designing in London, Knox moved back to the Isle of Man at the turn of the century, where he produced hundreds of designs for Liberty. Knox’s designs for the Liberty & Co. bridged the major art movements of the early 20th century. The Arts & Crafts pieces brought in motifs from the Art Nouveau, Celtic Revival and Modernist movements. He combined a strong sense of form and proportion with re-interpreted historic motifs to create stylish pieces that encapsulate the spirit of the era. Also of interest to collectors will be an Arts and Crafts Silver Mounted Ruskin Pottery Pedestal Bowl, which is a copy of a early 16th century celadon and silver example once owned by William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury (c.1450-1532) (estimate: £1,000-1,500).

A strong section of Mouseman and Yorkshire Critter furniture and furnishings is lead by a circa 1930s English Oak Reading Chair by Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson (estimate: £4,000-6,000); the chair has an adjustable back and adjustable book rest and is carved with two trademark mice. A fine Burr Oak Octagonal Coffee Table made by the Mouseman of Kilburn in the 1930s is also offered with an estimate of £2,000-3,000. Amongst the work of the Yorkshire Critter carvers is a well-carved English Oak Pigeon by Stan ‘Woodpeckerman’ Dodds (estimate: £2,000-3,000).

A collection of Stanley Webb Davies furniture, commissioned by Mrs A.W. Philipson of Canon Winder Hall, Flookburgh, Westmoreland will also be on offer. Stanley Webb Davies (1894-1978) was the epitome of an Arts and Crafts furniture maker. Working from his studio in Windermere, he strove to uphold the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement with his fine handmade furniture whilst constantly working to better society for all. Mrs Philipson was one of Davies’ most important local clients, and he borrowed some of the pieces of furniture he had made for her back to exhibit at the Exhibition at Ambleside and in Manchester at the Red Rose Guild of Craftsmen’. The collection will be sold with original copies of receipts and letters from Davies relating to the commissions, their design and arrangements for exhibition.  Highlights from the collection include a Chestnut Bookshelf made in 1954 (estimate: £700-1,000), and an Oak Gate Legged Dining Table (estimate: £600-900).

Further highlights of the sale include a large Lancastrian Lustre Vase by Gordon Forsythe for Pilkington’s Tile and Pottery Co., decorated with maidens and trees (estimate: £2,000-3,000), and a striking wheel-engraved amber glass by Ronald Pennell (estimate: £600-800). Titled “In Between”, it features Pennells interpretation of man vs. nature in the form of an ‘everyman’ figure fighting the power of nature in the guise of a crocodile, watched over by his Jack Russell. 


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