Right, this is the sale we went to view yesterday. Although we looked at everything, our interest is mainly Lowestoft and so those pieces, from 118 to 151, were the ones we handled.
One of the great things about an auction view is that you can ask to see and handle anything. I don’t know if it’s so free and easy when delicate objects are worth hundreds of thousands, but at the less rarefied range of prices, you’ll either be handed the pieces individually or a cabinet will be unlocked and, though porters are keeping an eye open, you’ll be left to get on with it. At our sales, the people viewing sit down at tables, but here there were upright cabinets and you stand and hold the piece, which is a bit nerve-wracking.
Anyway, if this doesn’t interest you, just skip the whole post as I’m afraid it means opening the link in another window and looking at the pieces concerned and you may have neither time nor inclination – on the other hand, you may so I’ll go ahead.
The piece that I really couldn’t put down was no. 139, which is wonderful. Beautifully painted by someone who knew his subject – he’d spent a lot of time in a shipyard or at sea, because you can see that the rigging is right. If I thought it would go for its estimate, I’d buy it (20% premium plus VAT on the premium is a bit of a pill) but it’ll go for more. We discussed the possible price – our friend thought 13, the Sage thinks 15, but I think it could go for a bid or two more. But at £16 thousand bid, it’s nearly 20 out of the saleroom, which … well, it makes my hip look jolly cheap. On the other hand, when you consider the vast sums paid for some items, old and new – well, who’s to say? I’d not pay £20,000 for a car, but plenty would. And a million pounds seems to go nowhere in some circles.
Anyway, my second favourite is 124, which is beautifully painted. For something so small, there’s an awful lot on it. It’s also incredibly rare – there is supposed to be another one, in polychrome, but no one knows where it is (except its owner, of course) and no other blue and white one is recorded.
Then there was a fabulous pair of tea canisters at 132. I love to think that they have been treasured together for 250 years, because they are certainly a matching pair.
We’re not thinking of bidding for either of those lots either, by the way.
I love the early pieces – 1757 to the early 1760s. There’s a quality to the glaze and a care, but also a freedom, in the painting before the patterns became more standardised, that I really enjoy. And there were many pieces in that category. With such treasures to enjoy, one look wasn’t enough and nor was the second. So the Sage and I didn’t go to the V&A after all. We left after a first look, for lunch, then went back, left again for tea and then went back to the invited view, finally scuttling off to catch our train home soon after 7 o’clock.