Royal Worcester pheasant themed porcelain collection in Derbyshire causes flutter of excitement at auction house
Regal russet-red pheasants in every size imaginable have flown into the saleroom thanks to one ofthe most extraordinary porcelain collections we’ve ever seen, writes Charles Hanson.
More than 100 examples of these striking game birds, their magnificent plumage painted with great skill on Royal Worcester porcelain and plaques dating from 1898 onwards, are set to fly to new homes.
And it’s all down to one woman, a Derbyshire collector with an eye for artistic beauty and an appreciation of the cock pheasant. Thanks to their magnificent tails, gleaming blue-green necks, bright-red faces and dazzling white collars, they are a bird you simply can’t ignore, especially when strutting their stuff in a Derbyshire country lane in spring or summer.
Our keen collector started buying pheasant porcelain in the early 1960s. And, as is so often the case, it all started with one piece - an early 20th century Royal Worcester oval game dish awash with beautifully painted pheasants.
She spotted it in a shop round the corner from her home. Her pheasant pottery collection was born. That single piece has an auction estimate of £150-£200. Such is the quality of the ornaments on offer, the entire collection could sell for £10,000.
Her love for pheasant-decorated pottery never faded. It blossomed with each passing decade. She travelled the length and breadth of the country from London’s Alexandra Palace in the south to Harrogate in the north scouring antique fairs for her favoured porcelain.
She got to know antique dealers who, recognising her passion, started to look out for pheasant-related ornaments for her. Consequently, over the course of the next 60 years she added to her collection on a regular basis. And each newly-acquired piece found a spot in her display cabinets or, if a plate or plaque, on walls in her Derby home.
Sadly, this avid collector is no longer with us but her legacy lives on. Her pheasant porcelain is now destined to inspire Royal Worcester collectors the world over when it goes under the hammer on July 16. And I’m confident they will treasure her patiently-sourced pieces as much as she did.
Right now, her lifetime’s collection is in Hansons’ care and Victoria Sheppard, the antiques consultant cataloguing the pheasant porcelain, describes it as ‘quite extraordinary’.
She has been casting her expert eye over everything from vases, bowls and miniature tea services to ornamental figures of pheasants, jugs, cups, saucers and much more. Some items are more than 120 years old, others fairly recent. All show a rich array of Worcester artistic flair and design through the decades and some feature the work of one of Royal Worcester’s most famous artists, James Stinton.
The entire collection, catalogued into more than 100 lots, is due to be sold on July 16, ceramics day in the July 15-20 Derbyshire Antiques and Collectors Auction. To view the catalogue online, go to www.hansonslive.co.uk
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