December 20, 2011

Meissen, the earliest porcelain from Europe.

For our 2012 Exhibition, we have some exciting rarities, but none come close to this piece- one of the earliest pieces of porcelain from Europe it is possible to own.

It is Meissen, of a unique early body type developed by Böttger in the early 1710's. While not the absolute earliest body type, we can confidently date it to circa 1720.

The decoration, however, is not of Meissen type. This tooled gold (ie details are burnished in) Chinoiserie figural scene includes fountains, a drummer, a man with a teapot, and another holding out his teacup for him to fill. Beneath the scenes is a large scroll device, known as a Laub un Bandenwerk console. The border has thick gilt lines with scalloped edge supporting a series of dotted arcs and double chevron & dot motif. This border is a great clue to the origins of the decoration: the workshop of Bartholomäus Seuter, a Hausmalerei workshop in Augsburg. The bowl was sold in the white, and decorated just a few years later- let's say circa 1725.

Inside, there is a bird on a branch, another common motif of the Seuter workshop.

Underneath, there is no crossed swords mark, the piece is simply too early. The earliest marked Meissen dates to around 1730.
I was excited to see that there was a faint mark, very hard to make out, but definitely a capital letter in lustre, now faded away. Such letters are often seen on these early Meissen pieces.

There is a saucer also. Unfortunately, it has suffered some wear. It has a wonderful fluted band moulded in relief, which is also richly gilt. The decoration is very close to the teabowl, and definitely from the Seuter workshop, but slight variations suggest that the two have not always been together. What a rare chance, to put these two rare survivors together!
These came from the fabulous Byrnes Family Trust collection, sold in London a few years ago for well over a million pounds.
They will be released for sale as part of our 2012 Exhibition, to be held in our Geelong premises late February 2012.

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December 11, 2011

Eureka moments

Sometimes, research can be a frustrating exercise. You spend hours- or days- trying to track down a piece, following no end of hunches, each leading to a dead end. This was the case with the following piece, an octagonal blue & white plate in the Chinese manner.

It should be Chinese- the dealer I bought it from called it that- but it made me uneasy. While it is a hard-paste type body, the way it has been made- the profile of the side and the base- is unusual compared to the usual Chinese porcelain of the mid 18th century. There is a brown line rim and foot, which does appear on Chinese.

The decoration is very Chinese in style, although perhaps a little too stiff & formal compared to the fluid Chinese originals. It reminded me of the copies you see made in English & Dutch Delft bodies, circa 1750's.
So where does it fit in?
Hard paste porcelain, blue & white decoration... early unmarked Meissen? ( might as well aim high!) No, the hard paste is not crisp enough. It has a faint creamyness to it. After a whole string of Continental & English 'red herrings' , I laid it to one side. All I could say was definitely NOT Chinese.

Then one day as I sat having a coffee with a customer, I was flipping through 'Godden's New Guide to English Porcelain' - and there it was. "EUREKA" I shouted as I ran off to find the plate, and returned with it to explain to the startled customer. Fortunately, they are fascinated by the same detective work regarding early ceramics as me!

So what was the solution to the mysterious plate?

A rare, short- lived factory in Liverpool, the Islington China Manufactory.
This was a pottery factory run by Thomas Wolfe from around 1790, but in 1796, Wolfe took on two partners- John Lucock and Miles Mason.
Mason was of course a 'Chinaman' - an importer of Chinese porcelain based in London. The date of his partnership coincides with the decline of Chinese porcelain imports. Miles could still sense a demand for the type of porcelain, and so seems to have looked around for an alternate source. The Islington Works fitted the bill. The porcelain they produced was of a hybrid hard-paste, of a type also made by Wolfe & Mason at the old Pennington works in Liverpool prior to the opening of Islington.
However, the factory did not last, and in 1800 the partnership was dissolved. They are rarities, and Godden remarks "....much further research needs to be carried out on this interesting class."

This exciting discovery will be offered in our upcoming exhibition & catalogue, in early 2012. Join our newsletter email list to stay informed.

November 05, 2011

Fair Views 2

Some more views @ The Great Sydney Antiques Fair.

This wonderful plate in the background is Sévres, from a grand service made for Prince Napoleon in 1856, and most probably used in his Pompeian House in Paris. An identical example can be seen in the British Museum.
Either side are a rare pair of Neiderviller figures of children in unglazed biscuit porcelain, circa 1780. Forefront is a Berlin miniature biscuit figure of a gent, dated 1846, looking nervously at the 19th century Meissen chickens and quail at the very front.

This is a Royal Worcester Parian figure - once again unglazed porcelain- known as Against the Wind, and dating to 1865.
The red glass includes Moser of Karlsbad and some Victorian 'Mary Gregory' of the 1880's.
In the background you will see a large pair of French pink vases with trailing overlay foliage designs from the same period.

Here's a couple of regency bronze cherubs, earlier 19th century, and an amazing Minton plate with pate-sur-pate borders and a central Cupid painted by Boullemeier......

The plate in the background is Sèvres, made 1900 and decorated with a superb historical interior scene in 1901.
The white teapot is a miniature Vienna example, c.1785, while the pink is Spode c. 1820!
The building is an unusual Staffordshire miniature c. 1830, while the figures are late 19th century German.

Remember, these items are all for sale, and can be seen on our website-

October 29, 2011

Some Service, please!

At the Great Sydney Antiques Fair, we have a number of usable services.

This magnificent example is in remarkable condition. Made by Minton in around 1845, the pale green ground has reserves of beautifully painted flower specimens- roses, tulips, poppies, and fuscia...

There are a lot of pieces!
10 plates, 2 oval footed dishes, 2 rectangular, 4 round, and 2 lovely sauce tureens and stands.

An interesting feature is the occasional printed mark for Daniell, London. This is sometimes mistaken for the firm of Daniel, but was in fact a retailer in London. The pieces made for him by Minton were intentionally left unmarked in order to ensure the clients came to him, not to the Minton factory, for their purchases !

A Fairly unusual case of deja-vue

This large European majolica figure is by the factory of Hugo Lonitz of Neuhaldensleben, dating to circa 1870.

What makes this a case of deja-vue for John, ( the founder of Moorabool) is that it was on his stand at the very first Antique Fair he exhibited in back in 1959!
That was the Antique Dealers Association of Victoria's fair in the Malvern Town Hall, High Street Armadale.
He remembers the piece as being his, as it has a broken foot.
He saw it again a few years ago, at auction but it was too expensive. This time, he was happy to buy it back again, and here it is at the Great Sydney Antiques Fair 2011 - 52 years later!

October 28, 2011

Fair Views....

Fair scenes.....
Here are some views in our cabinets at the 2011 Great Sydney Antiques Fair.
A tribe of Chinese porcelain Foo dogs, Kanxi, circa 1690

A beautiful blanc-de-chine Guanyin, Kanxi period c. 1680.
Framed by a Swato dish, Ming porcelain, recovered from the Bin Thuan shipwreck off Vietnam, which sank around 1608.

Below, a rare Red Anchor Chelsea figure of a boy, c.1755, seems to be feeding a Derby deer, c.1770.

Our scent bottles include this stunning Chelsea example below, circa 1760, modeled as two boys building a house of cards. It is particularly special as it came from the Blohm collection, and would have been one of Mrs Blohm's 'Toys' she carried through war-time Germany when she fled via Sweden.

In the background is a St James / Girl in the Swing - scent modeled as Harlequin & Columbine, circa 1755.

October 26, 2011

Moorabool @ the Great Sydney Antique Fair 2012

Moorabool is back in Sydney once more, with a wide range of lovely articles on display. Over 1,000, in fact!

The fair runs from the 26th - 30th October - see the organizers website here.

We have an emphasis on usable antiques- meaning items that are still perfect for the table, and in fact add a sense of elegance to modern dining.

Our Antiquities include the amazing Tang polo player, (no hooves touch the ground!) and the just as amazing wooden 'fat Lady' , also Tang Dynasty (8th century AD). She is commoner in pottery, and very rare in wood.

Come along & enjoy!

September 25, 2011

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September 10, 2011

Figure fun at the Fair

We have an entire cabinet dedicated to 18th century porcelain figures at the AAADA fair in Sydney.

There are a startling number of different manufacturers represented.
Above (left to right) is a small Orleans white figure of a boy; an Italian Doccia figural snuff with an embracing couple; a small white Mennecy (French) box in the form of a Chinaman, with silver mount hallmarked for 1750-6; a larger Mennecy box with a reclining shepherd and his dog, Paris marks for 1762; and a fantastic Saint Cloud snuff box in the form of a reclining buffalo, with a comical colorful Chinoiserie scene to both sides of the lid, bearing Paris hallmarks for 1738-44 to the silver mounts.
In the background are two examples of "Water" by Derby.

This group includes a very rare Chelsea-Derby miniature figure of a gent, marked with a double-anchor mark unique to a handful of these figures; A scent bottle is from the extraordinary rare firm of St James, previously known as 'Girl in the Swing'. This piece is a Commedia d'arte piece, with Columbine and Harlequin, and has a swan stopper. The seal to the right is a lady with an anchor, representing 'Hope' . She was part of the famous Blohm collection.

Animals feature in this scene, with seals- a pair of kissing doves and a hen & chicks from Chelsea, and a comical dog from St James. In the background is a herd of Derby Deer.

More seals include another comical St James piece - a dwarf in a tricorn hat, looking for all the world like a later period Toby Jug, but dating to circa 1750.
The other seal is a boy with a flaming torch, probably representing Winter, and also St James, mid 18th century.
In the background is a remarkable Vienna figure of a couple, a rare perfect piece from the 1760's.

All these items are available on the Moorabool Antiques website.

The Moorabool Stand

Here's our stand at the current AAADA fair.

Our French corner is particularly satisfying, dominated by a bust of Marie Antoinette.

The Oriental ceramics were very well received. Here is a cabinet full of blanc-de-chine, most of it Kanxi circa 1700.

A good number of people have attended, thank you to all who could make it.

September 09, 2011

AAADA Fair, Sydney

Moorabool is currently exhibiting at the AAADA fair at the Randwick racecourse, Sydney.

It's held in the Pavilion building, a neo-chinoiserie building which was built in 2000. Unfortunately, the word is out that it's days are numbered.... It is due to be demolished and replaced, so come and see it for one last time.....

It had been a superbly busy time, a well attended event with a smorgasbord of delights for antique & art lovers.

Cataloguing for 2012

We are currently beginning the rather daunting task of preparing for the 2012 catalogue and exhibition.

From early Meissen to some very interesting English porcelains, I will be highlighting these items over the next few months. Drop back to share our discoveries - and eventual catalogue.

April 24, 2011

Italian Invasion.....

In our 2011 Catalogue, we have a number of eighteenth century Italian pieces of porcelain from the Doccia factory.   
    Established by the Marchese Ginori in 1737 with help from German workmen with experience in porcelain making (ie originating in Meissen, the first true porcelain maker in Europe), this factory near Florence made unique forms in a distinct grey paste, often disguised under a thick white glazed achieved by using tin oxide. Their wares are rare and keenly sought after.

    The coffee pot is a particularly interesting piece, having the flamboyant birds-head spout.
Circa 1765, more photos and description here.
The plate has a version of the 'Tulip' pattern, based loosely on  a Chinese Export pattern of the early 18th century. Circa 1790, more info & pictures here.

There are a couple of interesting cup s & saucers also - this Imari style one with a fenced garden, Circa 1760 - more photos & info -
...and another with a very unusual pattern which is loosely Neo-Classical - Circa 1760 - more photos & info here -
And finally, a snuff box, left undecorated, with a whimsical depiction of an embracing old (?) couple - Circa 1780 - more photos & info here.

Remember, these items are all available on our website, and are part of our 2011 Exhibition.