Published: March 30, 2021
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy William & Teresa Kurau
LAMPETER, PENN., & ONLINE – It has been more than 20 years since William R. & Teresa F. Kurau Historical Staffordshire launched their website www.historicalchina.com but the firm, which specializes in Staffordshire transferware and creamware, and decorative English ceramics, has launched its first dedicated online show. Opening on March 5, the catalog of nearly 300 works will remain online as items available for viewing and sale on an indefinite basis, even after works sell.
“The idea came from our father, William R. Kurau,” Jonathan Kurau said, referring to the late dealer who started the company with his wife, Teresa. “He used to publish print catalogs and we wanted to use the website like a print catalog.”
The initial offering was made up of approximately 100 pieces from the Kuraus’ extensive inventory, supplemented by an additional 170 pieces from the estate collection of Calman J. “Buddy” Zamoiski Jr, who passed away on February 10, 2021. According to Teresa, David and Jonathan Kurau, Zamoiski had been collecting since the mid-1970s, when he acquired the McCauly collection of Historical Staffordshire; American views were a particular specialty. Zamoiski conferred with the Kuraus and other dealers on acquisitions, buying his last piece in 2014.
“He had about 650 individual pieces. After going down our clients’ want list, we decided to do a website show,” Jonathan Kurau said. The Kuraus split what was still available into two groups of about 170 lots each and will make available for purchase the remaining items from Zamoiski’s collection, which will go live to the website at 10 am on July 2.
Kurau said the reception to the show has been great, “it’s almost like doing an in-person show. We had a lot of calls on the first day, particularly in the first few hours, which were very strong.”
Teresa “Terry” Kurau had nothing but good things to say. “We had a number of people who bought more than one thing and we were very pleased by the way it went. We did not have any shows to go to this year; the website was the outlet to help sell it.”
As an outlet, the website show worked. “We wanted to have a really broad price range,” said Terry Kurau, saying that prices ranged from as low as $150 to nearly $24,000. “We have sold over 35 pieces since the March 5 launch,” Jonathan Kurau said, noting that the average order was between $600 and $1,000.
Some of the transactions the Kuraus closed included that of a rare bowl depicting Dr Benjamin Franklin in the center, circa 1790s, that Zamoiski had acquired from the Kuraus within the last 20 years. It sold to a Pennsylvania collector.
There were several pieces in the show – some selling, others still available for purchase – that featured portrait medallions of George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Governor DeWitt Clinton and Thomas Jefferson. One of the medallion pieces that sold was a large pitcher that featured a view of the entrance to the Erie Canal under the spout and two medallions on each side. Another piece with Erie Canal interest also sold, that being a circa 1825 historical blue Staffordshire plate made by Ralph Stevenson & Williams; it had two medallions depicting Jefferson and Clinton as well as a scene of the United States City Hotel and, along the bottom border, the entrance of the Erie Canal and the Hudson River at Albany, N.Y.
Staffordshire with Southern American views were not made in as great quantity as those in New York or New England so, as a consequence, appear on the market with more rarity. A blue transferware kidney-form bidet with central views of Washington, DC, and views of the Charleston Exchange and the Bank of Savannah sold to a collector who specializes in Southern American views.
Zamoiski was a collector who pursued every piece in a given series and his collection provided the opportunity for others to fill out gaps in their collection. Of particular note was the “Arms of the States” series, of which the website featured a few examples, with a plate depicting the Arms of Rhode Island and a footed compote with the Arms of Maryland. Both had been made by Thomas Mayer, the Maryland compote circa 1825, the Rhode Island plate circa 1830. Pieces bearing the arms of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts were still unsold when we talked to the Kuraus, as well as one depicting the arms of the United States.
David Kurau said that most of the buyers were based in the United States, but not all. The firm wrote up a receipt for a Historical Blue Staffordshire beaded rim bowl depicting Table Rock and Niagara Falls, with a seashell border, which they sold to a new Canadian collector.
William R. & Teresa F. Kurau Historical Staffordshire will be showing at the Philadelphia Show, which will run April 23-30.
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