Clarice Cliff is renowned for her skill in designing both the painted pattern and the shape of her pieces. She favoured bold colours and strong designs and unusual, sometimes bizarre shapes. Cliff was different from most young women in the pottery industry. She wanted to learn everything and she quite soon became skilled in modelling, gilding, hand painting, enamelling and banding. Cliff’s work was popular and much in demand during the 1920s but then interest declined. However, the Brighton exhibition started a revival in interest. The interest peaked in the 1980s and 1990s. Although the prices have fallen since then, rare combinations of paint and shape can still command high prices at auction.
El Greco, or The Greek, was the nickname adopted by Spanish Renaissance artist Domenikos Theotokopoulos. In 1563, at the age of twenty-two, El Greco had been described as maestro (master) Domenigo and probably ran his own workplace. He would have trained as a painter of icons at the Cretan Renaissance which thrived from the 15th to the 17th century. El Greco is viewed as the most successful graduate to create an art career in Western Europe in the Cretan style. His style is viewed as unique in the art world, with his elongated figures and combination of Byzantine and Western conventions. His work is sometimes described as pre-dating both Expressionism and Cubism.
The first use of pipes for smoking was by the Native Americans. Tobacco was valuable to them. It was considered to have medicinal properties, and smoking was believed to help alleviate pains and cure illnesses. Tobacco and smoking pipes reached Europe when explorers returned to their country in the 1500s. Some early European pipes were made out of a type of clay used to make fine china. Some pipes were made of wood such as walnut and cherry. Aside from their wooden pipes, Germany was also known for its excellent porcelain pipes. Pipe shapes changed as time passed until it evolved into the pipes we recognise today.
Barsony lamps are Barsony Ceramics’s most popular collector’s items. What separates these from other lamps are their black colour scheme and carefully crafted figurine bases in graceful poses. Some have a hidden light bulb, while other pieces don’t even have one. Despite the latter, Barsony lamps are beautiful enough to be displayed as works of art. They were quite in demand. But as the times changed, so did tastes. Fortunately, these exquisite lamps have seen a resurgence in popularity, especially for collectors. Though this cannot be completely explained, and whatever the reason, Barsony lamps are quite unique decorative pieces that captivated a generation and may continue to do so for years to come.
Movie posters have always served as an effective tool in promoting films. The first movie poster was believed to be produced by Jules Cheret. He developed a printing method that also gave birth to many visual advertising materials. As cinema style evolved, so did movie posters. Technology has, of course, brought about this evolution. Movie posters became collectable pieces for their art or because of the movie they promote. However, they are not just advertising materials nor are they just art collectables. They can be seen as a reflection of the sentiments of the era they come from, just as much as the films they promote.
Artisans began crafting beautiful containers for which to store snuff. Snuff boxes were made to keep the precious powder dry in between uses. Snuff boxes are considered very personal items. Like jewellery, they can be passed down as heirlooms. Artisans used a variety of materials in creating these boxes. Fine metals such as silver and gold were often used, as well as horns, tortoiseshell, porcelain and ivory. The materials used to craft these particular collectables make them valuable pieces. Add in the level of craftsmanship, a well-known place of origin or craftsman, the type and quality of ornamentation, and you’ve got yourself a highly coveted antique with a price that might cost an arm or a leg.
For some, collecting corkscrews may seem quite peculiar. Some would even note that these items look pretty much the same, while some would even say that corkscrews do not even possess aesthetical appeal. Anyone can be an avid corkscrew collector. As with any other collectable, one collector’s preference might differ from another. One could decide to collect corkscrews with a particular mechanism, while others might look at the place of origin or age of a particular corkscrew. Peculiar or not, collecting these curiosities may be a means of preserving a small part of the history of humankind and its tools.
Postcards, as we know them today, could have been inspired by the picture envelopes in which cards were sent. These envelopes would have comics, pictures of the season or holidays, patriotic pictures and even musical notes. John P. Charlton was the first person to copyright a postcard in the United States in 1861. Hymen L. Lipman bought Charlton’s copyright and began reissuing these postcards in 1870. Postcard collecting or deltiology came about shortly after the first picture postcards appeared. People bought postcards not only to send messages but also to add to their collection. One could also visit museums that feature postcards or find them in auction houses and antique stores.
Toys have always been integral to the development of children. This is true today as it was in the countless generations before us. For as long as there are children, there would be playing and, by extension, toys. Toys, however, are not the exclusive province of children. Even as adults, people still find them fascinating, perhaps no longer as playthings but as tokens from childhood, nostalgia pieces, memorabilia, and even collectables. In fact, toys from bygone days can command very hefty prices. While people did collect toys before, the toy market now actively markets to adult buyers. Plus, this century saw an increasing demand for antique and vintage toys.
You probably own a snow dome or globe or two, most of us have one somewhere about. They can be varying sizes and may have outer decorations which can be elaborate. Snow globes and snow domes may also have a built-in musical box to further enchant you. They are not too difficult to find for collectors, although there are some very rare and precious ones for the serious addict. Snow globes and snow domes are for everyone. Indeed, they do have a magic of their own – and you are never too old to turn the globe and watch the snow falling, falling, falling…
Moorcroft has designed a unique style of tube lined works with brilliant colours and great artistic appeal. The earlier pieces featuring flowers and fruits have been extended to modern abstract designs, yet still using the traditional methods of manufacture. If you are a collector of Moorcroft, then you are in good company. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, adds them to her royal collection, former US presidents, British prime ministers, together with many well-known actors and singers, collect Moorcroft. You can always find something interesting and stylish for your collection, prices ranging from the highly valued limited editions to the more affordable, yet still valuable ceramics.
Before there were portable music players and apps, there was the music box. This carefully crafted contraption made of wood or other material plays a certain melody whenever one winds the key or opens the box. Music boxes in the 21st century have become novelty items. They often make lovely presents, especially for young girls and ladies. They also come in many forms: from the usual box to clocks, snow globes, figurines, and the most common variety as jewellery boxes. They evoke a feeling of nostalgia, and as the box is opened or the key turned, memories seem to rise with the melody. Despite all the modern musical inventions, there’s nothing quite like a music box.
Cigarette cards were originally blank card inserts that were used to stiffen soft and flimsy cigarette packets and protect its contents. It wasn’t long until someone decided that these stiffeners could serve another purpose: advertisement material. Eventually, these cards began to come with pictures of a particular theme, compelling customers to buy more of the product to complete the set of a certain theme. No matter the reason one has for indulging in cartophily, it cannot be denied that cigarette cards not only served as a hobby. The information printed on them helped people to see places they would never see, learn things they wouldn’t have known, and reflected the sentiments of the people of their era.
Paul Storr is revered as one of the finest and legendary English silversmiths. He built a reputation for perfecting the works, styles and designs of the grandiose Neo-Classical style developed in the Regency period in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Most of his works can be easily found in European royal palaces, museums and throughout the world. But contrary to the notion in people that his works were commissioned only by the royalties, the truth is that he embraced a higher level of craftsmanship and superior quality into his products. Up to date, his legacy lives on, and his works command very high prices in many global auctions.
Fra’ Filippo Lippi was sent with one of his brothers to the Carmelite convent at Santa Maria del Carmine. It was here that he was inspired to create art, by watching the artist Masaccio creating frescoes in the convent. Lippo went on to paint his own frescoes in the church and the cloister. Instead of studying, he spent all his time scrawling pictures on his own books and those of others. The priory recognised his talent and allowed him to pursue his artistic interest. He was a rogue, being featured regularly on court rolls for charges including embezzlement and forgery, which he attempted in order to rescue himself from regular financial predicaments.
Archibald Knox was a Manx silver designer of Scottish descent. He became best known as being Liberty’s primary designer. One of his notable works is the epitaph or gravestone for Liberty’s founder Arthur Lasenby Liberty. Knox’s premier and prolific work acted as a bridge of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Celtic Revival, Art Nouveau and Modernism. Knox’s family engineering background somehow influenced Archibald’s design process for he used metalwork designs that were produced in the style of ready-to-engineer blueprints. Archibald’s design talent consisted of a wide range of objects, ornamental and utilitarian, and also included silver and pewter tea sets, jewellery, inkwells, boxes, gravestones, watercolours, graphic designs, calligraphy, house design, fonts and bank cheques.
Pietro Perugino was born Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci. He came to be known as Il Perugino, the man from Perugia. In 1500, he was known as ‘the best master in Italy’. He was one of the first Italian artists to make use of oils, used in frescoes he created for the convent of the Ingessati. Perugino was also noteworthy for his portraits. His star pupil was Raphael. Their work was very similar, but the student eventually outshone the master. Later in life, Perugino had been laughed out of Florence as his style had become stale and repetitive. He returned to Perugia, where he continued to work. Despite a lifetime of painting religious images, he was a non-believer.
Hester Bateman happened to be the most famous English female silversmith of the 18th century. However, she had no education, which explains her ‘X’ signature and why many of Bateman pieces had been outsourced elsewhere from talented craftsmen. There is no single known Hester workpiece after 1760. Most of Hester’s pieces are over-stamped with their marks, meaning they were from other artists. Despite this, Hester was an adept businesswoman who learnt the smithing trade from her husband. The Bateman family had a catalogue of various silverwares that included flatware, serving dishes, inkwells and horse-racing trophies. Due to their quality, any antique silver made by Hester Bateman and her family is still very collectable today.