Wedgwood Liberty Ware archive emerges in third Rubin collection sale at Freeman’s Jan. 25

Wedgwood Liberty Ware teawares plus two albums assembled by Lillian Gary Taylor documenting the project, estimated at $8,000-$12,000 at Freeman’s.

PHILADELPHIA — An archive related to the Wedgwood Liberty Ware project designed to raise money for victims of the First World War will be offered at Freeman’s on Thursday, January 25. It carries an estimate of $8,000-$12,000 as part of the third tranche of the remarkable Ellis and Suzanne Rubin collection of Wedgwood ceramics. The catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

The driving force behind Liberty Ware was the Baltimore society figure Lillian Gary Taylor (1885-1961). She created the design – a center shield with the American stars and stripes, surrounded by the flags of the 11 Allied countries – and used her wealth and connections to sell more than 9,000 pieces.

Alongside two Liberty Ware tea services, one in bone china and another in Queensware, this archive includes two albums she assembled that together document the entire project, from the original Wedgwood factory proof designs to arrangements with the wholesalers William H. Plummer & Co. Included alongside letters, original drawings, receipts, invoices, and canceled checks are personal notes of thanks for tea services sent to important dignitaries, among them President Woodrow Wilson, former President Theodore Roosevelt, and then-British Prime Minister Lord Arthur Balfour.

Freeman’s is currently selling the far-reaching Rubin collection across a number of sales. The content, displayed together in the couple’s Bucks County, Pennsylvania home, represents 60 years of collecting. It spans the entire history of Wedgwood factory production from the 18th century to the 20th century.

Following two exclusively Wedgwood auctions in 2023, this 305-lot offering begins with the neoclassical forms made in the 1770s under the Wedgwood & Bentley partnership and closes with some of the factory’s more adventurous 21st-century models. In between are multiple examples of black basalt, caneware, jasperware, creamware, majolica, pate-sur-pate and the 1930s designs of Alfred Powell and Keith Murray.

Various iterations of Daisy Makeig-Jones’ Fairyland lustre ware number close to 40 lots. Particularly scarce are pieces in the so-called Nizami range, inspired by Persian literature and named after the 12th-century dramatic poet Nizami (1140-1203). Made in the 1920s, these survive in small numbers. A cup and saucer and a rectangular box and cover are estimated at $4,000-$6,000 and $3,000-$5,000 respectively. Both had been bought by the Rubins at James D. Julia sales in 2015 and 2005.

Rubin pieces by other British factories in this sale include those by William de Morgan, Royal Doulton, Royal Worcester, and George Jones, plus some Continental wares by KPM and Wilhelm Schiller.

Wedgwood vases and Royal Doulton jugs add character to Lion and Unicorn Dec. 17 and 19

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — In the world of Royal Doulton character jug collecting, the prototypes or trial pieces are ‘holy grail’ items. These are the jugs that were made in the factory in Burslem, Staffordshire, England as experiments and — for reasons of cost, design or an unhappy subject — never entered general production. Most survive in small numbers of half a dozen or less.

Several good examples are included in the Sunday, December 17 and Tuesday, December 19 European Ceramics and Glass Auction at Lion and Unicorn.

The most desirable of these, estimated at $5,000-$6,000, is a large jug of John Gilpin, whose exploits on a runaway horse provided the basis for a popular 18th-century comic ballad. The poem tells how Gilpin and his wife and children became separated during a journey to the Bell Inn, Edmonton — the name inscribed to the signpost that forms the jug’s handle. Only a handful of these are known — this one with a standard Royal Doulton backstamp.

Two jugs depicting the 42nd President Bill Clinton carry backstamps reading Royal Doulton Prototype Only. One of several Clinton designs by Noble Ray (another has a handle modeled as the Stars ad Stripes and an eagle), this one has Clinton’s saxophone as the handle. The large-size jug has an estimate of $3,000-$6,000, and the smaller version has an estimate of $2,000-$3,000.

The second day of the sale includes additional Doulton wares. There is much to admire about a Titanian glazed vase decorated with a standing heron on a branch of wisteria by Harry Allen. Popular in the 1920s, the Titanian glaze relied on titanium oxide to create this distinctive blue color. This vase has an estimate of $5,000-$8,000.

The Moorcroft factory also experimented with high-fired glazes in the inter-war period, and its flambe pieces are some of the most coveted. Here a circa-1930 fish-pattern vase standing more than 12in high is estimated at $8,000-$10,000.

Prices for Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre have softened in recent years, but there are two fine pieces in the sale. A baluster form vase and cover in the Rainbow pattern and a 5in Malfrey pot and cover printed with the Elves IV pattern to the exterior and Pebble and Grass to the interior both have attractive estimates of $5,000-$8,000.
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Royal Doulton prototype character jug depicting John Gilpin, estimated at $5,000-$6,000 at Lion and Unicorn.
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Royal Doulton prototype character jug depicting Bill Clinton, estimated at $3,000-$6,000 at Lion and Unicorn.
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Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre vase and cover in the Rainbow pattern, estimated at $5,000-$8,000 at Lion and Unicorn.
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Wedgwood Flame Fairyland Lustre Malfrey pot with Elves IV pattern, estimated at $5,000-$8,000 at Lion and Unicorn.
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William Moorcroft flambe Fish vase, estimated at $8,000-$10,000 at Lion and Unicorn.
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Royal Doulton Titanian vase decorated by Harry Allen, estimated at $5,000-$8,000 at Lion and Unicorn.
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Freeman’s European Week sales slated for July 12-13 and 18

Large Daisy Makeig-Jones Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre Documentary bowl, estimated at $4,000-$6,000. Image courtesy of Freeman’s

 

Large Daisy Makeig-Jones Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre Documentary bowl, estimated at $4,000-$6,000. Image courtesy of Freeman’s
Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre Documentary bowl, estimated at $4,000-$6,000. Image courtesy of Freeman’s

 

PHILADELPHIA — In back-to-back sales of fine art, ceramics, furniture and design this July, Freeman’s presents European Week, bringing important art and objects from across the continent to market. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

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