While I was in New York last week, I wandered down Second Avenue to the Manhattan Antiques Center, just in case a piece of Staffordshire might be lurking. As this center is better known for its jewelry and rather glitzy decorative objects, this was a long shot....and it was a yucky, soggy morning. But I couldn't help myself. I just had to go and look. For once, luck was with me, and I found this little pair of dandies marked SALT. As I had not hitherto recorded a pair of Salt dandies of any size, I was thrilled with my find, and I bought them.
Hoffman Gampetro, the gallery where I bought my dandies, had a number of pearlware figures in stock, and I enjoyed talking with the gallery owner, Ron, who took a very real interest in these lovely objects. Among the items of interest was a pearlware bust of a cherub's head, a very fine Ralph Wood satyr cup, and this uncommon Ralph Wood figure of St. John. Look at the size of St. John's hand. No wonder, old time collectors frequently note that Ralph Wood figures tend to have large hands.
Also in stock was this little chariot decorated in under glaze colors that suggest manufacture in northeast England or Yorkshire.
And Ron had a figure of Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy. Very dramatic, is she not?
Of course, I had not expected to find anything in the Manhattan Antiques Center, so I did not have my magnifying glasses required to help me detect overpainting...and I thought the Salt dandies just might have some. Absolutely not, said Ron. I murmured that you really only know if you try to strip off the paint. Undaunted, Ron picked up the phone and asked the building janitor to bring up some Q-tips and acetone! It doesn't end here....I am SUCH a pain that I HAD to say that paint stripper was really needed, whereupon long-suffering Ron again picked up the phone again and asked the janitor for heavy duty stripper. Within minutes it all arrived, and the figure passed the test. How many dealers are prepared to stand behind their stock to that degree? If you are in Manhattan, pop in and see if Ron has anything you might like. And its good to know that you can buy with confidence!
I spent the past few days at the International Fine Art and Antiques Show at New York's Park Avenue Armory. The stand-out at the show, from my perspective, was John Howard's dazzling display of figures. It also had the crowd buzzing--so much so that lady at the fair's exit point came back to see what it was all about because she had heard so many raves and had handed out so very many pass-out passes to happy pottery purchasers. The figure display was dazzling, but the star of the show was the beast in this photograph.
No, no...defintely not me! Rather, it was the splendid sheep in my arms that attracted so very much attention. This pearlware figure is the largest pearlware sheep on record, and she measures a full 15 inches across.
As you see from this picture from John's site, she has an opening in her back.
We think this large figure was intended for a shop window display, and the opening held a sign. Could it have been "Lamb Chops Sold Here" in a butcher window? I like to think so, and I have named her Lamb Chop.
Lamb Chop has a very gentle yet riveting expression, and countless visitors to the show--even hardened exhibitors who have by now 'seen it all'--were drawn to her. I must admit I was smitten, and I wish I could have brought her home with me. I also loved the dog painting that you can see on the wall behind me, but at $280,000, alas it couldn't come home in my luggage either!!
I have seen one or two cows with similar openings in the back that were also intended for shop window purposes. In fact, a splendid cow and bull pair with just this feature sold a few years ago.
As large as they are, these bovines are both a little smaller than Lamb Chop. They measure a mere 13.5 inches each way at most, whereas Lamb Chop is a good 15 inches-plus across. And of course they appear to have emanated from a quite different pot bank.
It goes without saying that Lamb Chop was not the only wonder that John displayed, and you can see just one of the cases of figures in this image.
The show is on through Thursday, and if you give Lamb Chop a new home, please allow me to come and visit!
Some of you find my blog postings too wordy. This one will, I promise, be brief! Have you ever seen a pearlware dragon? I hadn't until recently, when a collector kindly shared this little gem. The body and head are painted with scales, as you see if you look closely.
The body quite definitely appears to be early pearlware, so I have little doubt that this is yet another rare find for our trove of knowledge.
I carefully collect pictures of figures. They are invaluable in helping me piece together information. This week, I dutifully added this figure to folder number 199, titled "Miscellaneous".
As I did so, I glanced through the folder contents, and spied this 9 inch figure, which came to auction about 10 years ago.
I have never seen other examples of these two figures, so perhaps they are unique. But clearly they are intended to be a pair. Is the subject classical? Is it theatrical? That beats me. For now, both figures stay in the Miscellaneous folder--but if you have any thoughts, please share.
Haughton International Fair will be crossing the Atlantic to bring the International Fine Arts and Antiques Show to the Park Avenue Armory for a week from Friday October 17. The Haughton Shows are the premier antiques and fine arts venues in the US and UK. Of course early pottery of all sorts will be dazzlingly presented on John Howard's stand, and I can't wait to see it. In particular, John has a mind-blowing selection of figures. I will be at the show for the first few days, so if you come please ask John where you can find me. If you want an eticket, you can find one on John's site.
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