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21st Jul 2019
Lowestoft porcelain inkwell circa 1775 pre sale estimate 5000 7000

Collectors from all over the world will turn their attention to Norfolk this week when an extremely rare ‘Tulip’ style Lowestoft porcelain inkwell goes under the hammer at Keys Auctioneers in Aylsham.

Dating from around 1775, the 7cm hand-painted inkwell, which comes from a private collection, is expected to sell for between £5,000 and £7,000 when it comes up for sale on Wednesday 24th July, the first day of Keys’ three day Summer Fine Sale.

Decorated in the Tulip painter style, the inkwell features floral designs and a divergent tulip.  This is one of the most sought-after designs in Lowestoft porcelain, with similar pieces featuring in the collection at Norwich Castle Museum.

The inkwell is one of a number of pieces of Lowestoft porcelain in the sale, with other rarities including a porcelain sheep and ram dating from around 1780, and a blue and white porcelain bottle vase dating from around 1770.

“Lowestoft porcelain has become hugely popular in the saleroom, especially those pieces which were made in very small numbers, or which feature particular patterns, such as the Tulip painter style,“ said David Broom, ceramics expert at Keys.

“This is something which originated in East Anglia which has a huge base of collectors all over the world, and we are already seeing considerable interest in the Lowestoft pieces in our summer Fine Sale.”

The Lowestoft factory produced soft-paste porcelain ware from 1756 until its closure in 1799, the longest duration of any English soft-paste porcelain producer other than Worcester and Crown Derby.  Built on the site of an existing pottery or brick kiln, the building was later used as a brewery and malt kiln, before finally being demolished in 1955.

Early trials and production were alleged to have been sabotaged by workmen from the Bow factory, but by 1760 advertisements for Lowestoft porcelain were appearing.

The factory started out producing blue and white ware, and this is possibly the best known of its output.  But from 1770 onwards, an increasing amount of what it produced was the more colourful polychrome ware, with patterns following the fashions of the age: initially mandarin type chinoiserie, and then, from 1780, French neo-classical designs.

As well as several Lowestoft porcelain pieces, the sale includes ceramics from Meissen, Clarice Cliff, Moorcroft, Doulton, Wedgwood and Royal Worcester, and many oriental pieces.  The ceramics form part of a three day sale with over 1,150 lots, which runs from Wednesday 24th July to Friday 26th July at Keys’ Aylsham salerooms.  Full details are available at www.keysauctions.co.uk.