Published: September 19, 2006
John Sandon, Bonhams’ director of British and European ceramics, was a happy man on September 13 having sold an important circa 1752 Worcester Wigornia creamboat at Bonhams’ sale of Fine British Pottery and Porcelain. The smile was because his clients had acquired the jug on eBay for $200, and he had just sold it for $87,817, after a bidding clash between two private collectors.
Thinking they might have bought something special on eBay, Sandon’s clients emailed him a picture of the jug to ask his opinion. He was able to confirm that they had just bought something very special indeed — in fact, the only one of its kind known to be in existence. This view was more than borne out at the Bond Street auction that saw the pretty creamboat turn into something of a dreamboat for its savvy former owners.
Known as Wigornia creamboats after the Roman name for the city of Worcester, they were among the very first pieces made by the famous Worcester porcelain factory. Sandon commented, “They are truly the Holy Grail for Worcester collecting, so when I heard it had been bought on eBay for a song — wrongly described online as Italian — I was astonished. Few serious collectors look for early Worcester on eBay and this one slipped through.”
The 4 ½ inches long by 2 ½ inches high creamboat is crisply molded and brightly enameled, inspired by early English silver. It is embossed on both sides with varied Chinese scenes. On one side is a standing figure pointing toward a distant pavilion while an attendant holds an umbrella, the scene flanked by another pavilion with a pagoda roof and a hut on top of towering rocks. The reverse image shows a trellis fence heightened with painted scrollwork issuing from further towering rocks with a pavilion behind and descending toward a tree, the reliefs picked out in brilliant enamels, the interior painted with a border of flowering plants, a single sprig inside the center and a fancy insect in the lip.
Only one similar creamboat was previously offered and sold at auction by Sandon, that example crossing the block in 1987, but that was not colored. The price includes the buyer’s premium.
For more information, www.Bonhams.com.
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