The Flog It! team take a look at the work of some of the 20th century's leading female ceramicists and Paul Martin visits an art collection in Wales.
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Flog It has been on your screens for over ten years now
and during that time we've helped you sell your unwanted antiques and collectables.
And hopefully, you've taken home a lot of information, too.
This series is all about giving you more.
Welcome to Flog It! Trade Secrets.
On today's show, we'll be meeting a few famous names in British antique history.
And we'll be finding out that even though they're popular,
there's always more to learn about these Flog It! favourites.
And who better to learn from than Flog It's dedicated team of experts
whose passion is the world of antiques and collectables?
In today's show, we look at some of the items that turn up all the time
at our Flog It valuation tables.
Stunning Clarice Cliff!
-Do you like it?
-Not a lot, no.
And see what alternatives you should be looking for.
Charlotte Rhead, I think, is undervalued.
What insider tips can our experts offer the budding collector or dealer?
Everybody always equates best to the most valuable,
and that isn't necessarily the case.
You pick an object up
and the hairs on the back of your neck go up
and you get excited.
I think that's when you know you've got something good.
I've learned over the years that British ceramics
play a very important part of our antique history.
Many of those creations were ground-breaking in their day,
as were the people who created them.
And I'm always saying Flog It! wouldn't be Flog It! without Clarice Cliff on the show.
But who were the other women making a splash in the Potteries?
On Flog It, we're very familiar with the Potteries' most famous daughter.
But her work is not to everyone's taste.
Bleurgh! I hated it when I saw it, I hated it when I sold it,
and in truth, I still don't like it too much now. But it was Clarice Cliff.
I can't stand Clarice Cliff.
-Do you like it?
-Not a lot, no.
-Dreadful, isn't it?
Why do people buy this?
My husband bought it because he thought it was a good investment.
-He bought it for his pension fund.
-How much did he pay for it? £8.
A lot of people tend to collect what they think they should collect,
what the newspapers, what the magazines,
dare I say it, what the television programmes tell them they should collect.
I'm of the school that I think you should go and buy and collect
what you have a real passion for, what really turns you on, what does it for you.
Clarice Cliff worked at the Newport Pottery, a factory set up in 1928.
And I would think this dates to around about 1930.
-There are some inherent problems with it.
Apart from the fact that it's horrible, you've got a chip there.
-This coffee pot is really quite badly crazed.
When I saw it at the valuation day, it was the condition,
it was really in poor order, but I was mindful of the fact that if it was a rare thing,
it could've made its money.
Now, you'd normally see this in reds and greens.
And I wonder whether this is perhaps an early blue design that they failed with.
It's a rich era, really, I think, the '30s, for ladies
in that the First World War had come and gone,
we were building up to the Second World War.
I also think that ladies, in a way, might be a little bit more creative than chaps.
But I guess the one real reason might be
that they probably charge less, or their pay rate was less than a man's.
-I think we've got to put £200 to £300 as an estimate on it.
We'll put a fixed reserve on it of £150.
The one thing I would say to you is I've never seen this in this blue colour before.
-Yeah. If that is that rare
and the Clarice collectors really leap into it,
you know, they could... the damage might become an irrelevance
-simply because of its rarity.
-I see, yeah.
We've got the Clarice Cliff blue firs pattern coffee set.
The minute you hear the auctioneer go, "I've got commission bids and three phone lines,"
you sort of know you're on a winner.
1,300, my bid. 1,350.
On the phone, 1,350.
'But the opening bid took us all by surprise.'
-Gosh, this is rare!
They know something we don't know, Philip.
2,600. Are we all done at £2,700, then?
Hammer's gone down. What a wonderful moment.
How do I explain Clarice Cliff's appeal?
Well, I'm not sure I can. You're talking to the wrong bloke.
'So far, so Clarice Cliff.
'But who were the other women whose designs have stood the test of time?'
The Charlotte Rhead bowl in Edinburgh,
a real good piece of Art Deco pottery
with those stylised trees, very typical of the 1930s style of decoration.
It dates from the 1930s
and it's a piece by one of the most well-known ceramic designers of the 20th century called Charlotte Rhead,
who worked in the Potteries in Stoke-on-Trent
at a similar time to Clarice Cliff, who everybody's heard of.
Poor Charlotte Rhead has lived in Clarice Cliff's shadow
probably ever since the 1930s.
Clarice Cliff with her bold and jazzy, colourful designs.
Charlotte Rhead was rather more muted, I suppose, in style.
And most of her things were vases and bowls
and big trays and chargers with various designs.
But this is quite an unusual design for her, cos they're mainly stylised flowers and foliage
-and here you've got more trees really, haven't you?
Charlotte Rhead is an unsung hero of the Potteries.
Her technique was rather than hand-painting, she was a tube-liner,
so she piped out these tube-line designs,
similar to the Moorcroft pottery of the period.
The most desirable are the ones that are signed on the bottom.
-And luckily, yours is one of those that's signed on the bottom.
-Oh, I see.
I suppose it's all about fashion and name.
Everyone's heard of Clarice Cliff, most people have heard of Susie Cooper.
Charlotte Rhead, perhaps not so much.
When you see sometimes huge prices paid for Clarice Cliff and the likes,
-and this is probably going to make £40, something like that.
-That's fine. That's fine.
-We could put an estimate of £30 to £50.
Charlotte Rhead, I think, is undervalued.
She was a great exponent of pottery of the period.
Start at £30. 30 bid. 30 bid.
'Did Adam's valuation reflect Charlotte Rhead's limited appeal?'
-5. 70. £70 on commission.
-What did we say?
Any advance on 70?
'Not a bad price. But what did Isla plan to do with the money?'
When I did a search on Charlotte Rhead,
I discovered that she had breast cancer
and subsequently died from it,
and because I'm in remission from breast cancer,
if there's any money, that's where it's going, to cancer care.
-What more appropriate way of spending the proceeds?
'And now to another Potteries contemporary of Charlotte Rhead and Clarice Cliff.'
-It's by Susie Cooper, as I'm sure you know.
-How long have you owned it?
-Er, 54 years. It was a wedding present.
Susie Cooper was born in 1902, the youngest of seven daughters,
and she started working for Gray's, a very influential potter in the Potteries,
at the age of 20, so she got going very early.
Susie Cooper was an important designer
and quite rare, because there weren't many lady designers working in industry.
And she became governor of her own firm. The company became known as Susie Cooper.
She specialised in tablewares.
You don't get so much decorative pottery by her.
This shape is known as the falcon shape, for obvious reasons.
If you look at the spout, it in profile look rather like a falcon
-with its bill taking the form of the spout.
I think women came to the forefront, in terms of design
and in terms of decorating for a number of reasons, really.
It was a relatively liberated time.
Society was more responsive, I think, to young women than it had been before.
There were fewer men about. Let's not forget that.
There were a great number of men in their teens and early 20s
who were killed in the First World War. They might have gone on to be decorators.
It's in perfect condition. A slight crackle.
A sort of crazing, which you do get.
I suspect it's just age which has caused the glaze to shrink, really.
Susie Cooper is definitely, and in my view quite rightly,
overshadowed by Clarice Cliff.
Clarice Cliff was avant garde.
She introduced bold shapes, bold designs. But she had a sort of freedom.
She was given her own studio and allowed to get on with it.
-It was bought in 1955...
..which I think tells us that the pattern, the decoration, is actually a bit later.
So we have a 1930s shape decorated in the mid-1950s.
I think things should speak of their period.
Something that was made in the 1930s
should look as if it was made in the 1930s.
'That's why Clarice Cliff is so collectable.
'She absolutely reflects that time.'
-I think this is going to make somewhere between £40 and £60.
-How about a reserve of £30?
-That sounds reasonable.
It's a nice little set, this.
At £55. At 55. Is there 60? At 55. I'm not going to dwell on it.
-He's going to sell.
Susie Cooper is not as highly regarded
and I think the owner was indeed disappointed in my valuation.
But that's just the way the market is, really.
'Very true. The market is a fickle beast,
'and you never know, Susie Cooper may yet rise in value.
'So if you've got some of her work, keep hold of it.
'Around the time that Brenda's mother acquired her Susie Cooper tea service,
'another woman was making a splash in the world of ceramics.'
I was delighted to see this Midwinter service, or part of it,
they only brought part to the valuation day
with a promise that they had a service for six at home.
It's made by the Midwinter factory and they were in operation between 1910,
when it was established by William Midwinter,
and it operated right through to about 1987.
The amazing thing was, it came out looking as fresh
and as wonderful
as probably the first day they were presented as a wedding present.
During the mid part of the 20th century, Jessie Tait was commissioned by William Midwinter
to create this rounded square shape.
Jessie Tait was an amazing lady. She's actually, since the programme was filmed,
she has actually died. She died in the early part of 2010.
She was a very influential lady throughout the 20th century,
and from the 1940s to the 1980s,
carried forward the female role, as it were,
in terms of cutting-edge design within the Potteries.
I think you and I agree that it's very much of the period
-but actually it looks very much now, as well.
She was very clever in terms of fusing
the modern taste and modern capabilities of production
with obviously what she's learnt from tradition
and taking the two things forward together.
I mean, to see one or two pieces now and then is something we might expect,
but to see so much is really quite exciting.
I think realistically anywhere between £350 and £550
-would be a fair bracket of value.
She's probably one of the leading lights, or is the leading light,
in terms of her chosen career, definitely.
Lot 56, the Midwinter dinner, tea and coffee service.
Selling at £380. Bid's at the back of the room.
-All done at £380?
-We're going to take that, aren't we?
tea services are not selling particularly well
because people have too busy a life,
they perhaps don't sit down to a full laden table
with all the matching crockery.
If they do, it then needs to be really dishwasher proof
if they're going to enjoy it to its full and relax about using it.
So such a service is really bucking current trends
for lots of reasons. And it was just wonderful, yes.
'Often you can snap up a set for less than the individual pieces.
'And Jessie Tait's work may prove a canny investment in the future.
'There's one more established Flog It favourite
'which is the magical work of another of Stoke's visionary women.'
Doncaster valuation day, I remember it well.
It was a dream valuation day
and I remember this lady pulling out this Fairyland Lustre bowl.
I saw her from the other side of the room. I was straight there.
-What a wonderful piece you've got here.
-It is beautiful.
-As soon as I saw it, I ran over, didn't I?
It's beautiful. It's by Wedgwood
and we've got the Wedgwood mark on the bottom there.
And it's Fairyland Lustre. That's what it's known as.
And it was designed by a very interesting lady called Daisy Makeig-Jones,
who was at Wedgwood for many years.
Daisy Makeig-Jones was a genius designer, really.
I believe she had a dispute with Wedgwood and left under a cloud
and smashed loads of pots, which all helps add to the mystique and the rarity of Fairyland Lustre.
And the castle often features
and the fairies always feature.
And you can see the exquisite decoration all round.
If you have a look at that, the decoration is absolutely magnificent.
No offence to Charlotte Rhead and Clarice Cliff
with their simple painted and tube-lined designs,
but this is an absolute masterpiece of pottery.
It's smothered in decoration, in gilding, there's a huge amount of effort and man hours
that goes into the creation of Fairyland Lustre.
-I think we could put a reserve of 800.
-Do you really?
So it doesn't go for any less.
-No leeway at all. I shall tell him myself.
The Daisy Makeig-Jones Fairyland Lustre bowl,
discovered by Adam Partridge, and I remember her saying,
"Ooh, I don't really want to sell it, but if it makes 800 or 900, I'm prepared to let it go."
We have five telephones.
-I'll start it on the commission bid of £800.
But whenever you get something good, you have that feeling
and you know something's going to happen.
And 50. 1,550.
You know, if Adam had put 2,000 to 2,500 on that bowl,
I don't think we'd have sold it.
I don't think there would've been very much interest at all,
because the majority of people would've gone, "Oh, it's too much."
But put a low estimate and it builds and it builds.
2,200. 2,300. All sure at 2,300?
-Yes! That's a sell. £2,300.
The name Daisy Makeig-Jones to some people was like,
"Who's that, then?" until you say Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre
and she's the person that has made that famous.
'Another name to add to the list of innovative women in ceramics.
'Her work is highly sought-after and commands high prices.
'So look for smaller pieces of Fairyland Lustre
'or the less ornate examples.
'Since her death, Jessie Tait is definitely one to watch.
'And remember, there may be more value for money in buying a service
'than in individual pieces.
'Many feel that Charlotte Rhead and Susie Cooper are underrated,
'but as such, they could represent a sensible investment.
'When it comes to Clarice Cliff, the market is very complex
'with different ranges and colourways attracting vastly different prices.
'Pieces from the long-running crocus range can be picked up for £30 to £50,
'but rare combinations of shape and pattern
'command exceptionally high prices.
'The world record, set at the height of the market in 2004,
'for an 18-inch charger in the May Avenue pattern.
'Clarice Cliff's work has gone from being thought avant garde
'to being regarded as iconic of its time.
'The same is true of many great names in the world of antiques and collectables
'and a clever collector will look ahead and buy when things are new or unfashionable.
'That was certainly true of two Welsh women
'whose eye for a bargain resulted in a collection
'that's now considered priceless.
'In the early 20th century, two spinster sisters,
'Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, began collecting art.
'Today their collection is seen as one of the largest and most important
'of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works in the world.'
The 260 works of art were bequeathed to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff
and I've come here to talk to Dr Ann Sumner, head of fine art,
to take a look at this incredible collection
but also find out a little bit more about these remarkable women
and the role they played in Welsh history.
'And the star of their collection is undoubtedly La Parisienne by Renoir,
'one of the most famous Impressionist paintings in the UK.'
This is absolutely stunning. Look at this French ultramarine blue.
That sort of shouts out at you and it's quite bold, the brushstroke. Tell me about it.
Well, this painting was one of the most famous pictures
at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874
and it really made Renoir's name.
And Gwendoline Davies purchased this in 1913
and they didn't start collecting Impressionist paintings until 1912,
so this is only the second year of collecting Impressionist paintings.
-Tell me about the ladies. They must've been so remarkable.
The Davies sisters were the granddaughters of David Davies of Llandinam,
-who was a self-made industrialist.
-In coal, in railways,
and actually developing Barry docks, as well.
So they were to inherit an enormous amount of money
when they both became 25.
They both drew.
Margaret painted throughout her life.
And, in fact, they had this extraordinary exposure
to the Salon in Paris, to the Royal Academy in London,
because that's what really interested Jane Blaker, their governess.
And when they went to London, she would turn up
and take them off to the Royal Academy to see the latest British paintings.
And then when they went to France, which was primarily for shopping
and to see the theatre and to go to the opera,
she also made sure they went to the Salon and they saw the best exhibitions.
Why were the sisters exceptional as collectors?
Well, first of all, they were women,
but also, they were really, really unusual in that they were buying Impressionist paintings
and that was exceptional at that time.
-Cos it was considered avant garde. It wasn't the thing to invest in.
I mean, let's be honest, they were buying these paintings cheaply.
Relatively cheaply. They weren't fashionable.
That's the idea with antiques and collectables, isn't it? Get in before they're fashionable.
They were certainly getting bargains, to a certain extent, with some of the pictures they were buying.
Did they collect mainly impressionistic works?
Well, as you can see from the gallery that we have here,
they started off collecting in a slightly different vein.
They bought works by Corot, works by Millet, by Daumier.
So they bought French paintings, but not initially French Impressionist paintings.
-And then, of course, Turner. Turner is the artist who they were really interested in.
-I've spotted some.
And they started off buying some of these wonderful works here.
And you can see, in a way, they were drawn to this impressionistic style of painting by Turner.
And it's not such a huge leap
-to then be appreciating Impressionist painting.
-I was going to say that,
-because there's a correlation. You can see how it's evolved. It's not random, is it?
-No, not at all.
Every single wall vies for your attention at once, doesn't it?
-Every work of art...
-There's just so much.
This is a lovely Manet, painted during the Franco-Prussian war, actually,
when Manet was serving in the guard.
He was actually a soldier at this time.
-And this was a wasteland.
-It is a barren landscape.
It's covered in snow, you get that heavy feeling...
-Of not wanting to be there.
-Yes, absolutely. And it was painted in about an hour and a half,
so we know it's one of Manet's first Impressionist paintings.
So it's a remarkable work.
Now, this was purchased for just over £200 in 1912,
so it's a real bargain.
'But I think the sisters' most favourite artist had to be Monet.
'They purchased nine of his works,
'three of which are paintings of his beloved Venice.'
Here we are, look. So typically Monet. Lovely pastel colours.
These are wonderful Monets. The San Giorgio Maggiore By Twilight
is probably one of the most famous paintings in our collections.
Monet himself came late to Venice
and he wished that he'd gone earlier.
He was incredibly inspired by the buildings and by the light.
-He actually painted in a gondola.
-You sound very passionate about Monet.
I love Monet. He's my favourite artist in this collection by far.
And the Davies sisters bought so well.
Oh, wow. Look at that.
One of his best-known works, actually, L'Estaque.
There must be so many interesting stories
with every single piece of art in here.
Well, I think what was interesting for the sisters was,
this wonderful lifestyle they had before the First World War
where they were holidaying all over Europe and also went to Egypt, this completely changed.
They volunteered for the Red Cross canteens,
and despite being in France and being so much involved in the war effort, they were still buying paintings.
Talk about confidence of brushstroke. Just take a look at this.
-Wonderful Provence landscape.
-Actually painted on Cezanne's own family estate.
But it is an interesting situation, because they were very concerned about these paintings.
Paris was under considerable bombardment from the Germans
and so as quickly as possible, they got these pictures out of France, over to Britain.
And this was cutting-edge collecting, because these pictures were not appreciated in Britain at the time.
When they tried to lend them to the Tate Gallery a few years later, they were initially turned down.
And then, after a rumpus in the paper, lots of letters to The Times, they were put on loan.
-You see, the girls had an incredible foresight.
-They absolutely did.
'This is truly an incredible exhibition.
'Thanks to two remarkable women, works by Turner, Monet and Cezanne
'have found a home here in Wales.
'This is collecting at its best. And what a legacy to leave
'for us all to enjoy.'
I've often wondered what some of our successful owners
have done with the money in the past. You probably have, as well.
So we've caught up with a few of them.
'At one valuation day in Wiltshire in 2009,
'Thomas Plant's knowledge of those all-important hallmarks
'stood him in good stead with one visitor.'
It was given to me as a gift
from somebody who knows that I like small silver.
-But for me, it's a bit too big.
-It's not really small silver, is it?
-No, it's not as small as I usually collect.
-What do you usually collect?
Well, I like spoons, all sorts of different spoons.
-And I like little salts...
-..and little mustard pots.
'Linda is an avid collector of spoons
'and wanted to make room for the smaller items she collects.'
I just love collecting.
I love objects, I love the history of objects,
I love the form of them, the function of them.
I really can't help myself. So it's a curse or a passion.
'With such a diverse collection,
'Linda has to make some tough decisions on what to keep and what to sell.'
You've got these quite good marks on the base here.
-Yes, they're quite big, aren't they?
-Quite big and quite fine,
and as you know from collecting silver, they look quite fresh, so that's brilliant.
Because it's by Emick Romer and it's 1771,
you've got to think, the value is going to be higher
than a usual chalice from this date.
-So I would put this in at auction between £300 and £500.
-I'd fix the reserve at 300.
-How does that grab you?
-That was a nice friend, wasn't it?
-It was a nice friend.
Lot number 285 we're onto now,
which is the George III silver goblet by Emick Romer.
420. 440 anywhere?
Yes! Good man, Philip!
'Linda made the money she wanted at auction,
'and was able to spend it on adding to her collection of Georgian spoons.'
I've been building up a collection of Georgian silver
for about five or six years.
I hadn't collected silver to that extent before.
But it just started with one spoon
and it was a very old spoon.
And I just realised what a very personal object that was.
I'm very pleased to have found this one,
which is a trefid spoon,
the top is a trefid shape.
And this one is dated
circa 1680 to 1685.
So it's in the reign of Charles II.
It's an absolutely beautiful spoon.
'Linda also has some more unusual items in her collection.'
As well as the spoons,
I've got a small collection of larger silver.
Again, personal items. I have pap boats. A couple of these.
Little things that cradle in your hand.
And they were used for feeding infants.
So simple and so beautiful to hold.
'It's clear that Linda has a passion for these beautifully-designed and crafted objects.
'But what tips has she got for anyone thinking of starting their own collection?'
One of my tips for people who wanted to start collecting anything, really,
is to focus on something you really like that you can afford.
You may not be able to afford it at the end,
because the thing about colleting is that
when you get the ordinary, you then want the extraordinary.
And that always costs a lot of money.
Hopefully today's show has given you some food for thought
and helped you rediscover some of those lost and overlooked items in your house.
I hope you've enjoyed the show. See you next time for more trade secrets.
The Flog It! team take a look at the work of some of the 20th century's leading female ceramicists and Paul Martin visits a fascinating art collection in Wales.