I went to an auction today. I do not often go to them as I find them very stressful and am petrified that I will inadvertently buy something hideously expensive because I scratched my nose.
This one had hundreds of items including stuffed animals,valuable works of art, utter kitsch and assorted antiques.
The prices were ridiculously cheap for most of the items and had I more space and few spare thousand, I could have filled my home with beautiful furniture for less than Ikea. However I did manage to snaffle a few choice items which are pictured in this post. I was not able to afford the 500 dollars paid for a stuffed skunk!
What I love about buying antiques is the fact that you are buying something that is genuinely “hand” made. The cups and saucers I bought today were all painstakingly hand painted and then another person had to add the gilding which then was hand polished using a dogs tooth or special burnishing stone. The glass had to be hand blown and then cut and polished. The German goblet had to be hand engraved by a skilled artist.
The teapot is all hand turned, painted in cobalt blue and then sent to England to have the gold added once it arrived. A description of the journey that the teapot took just to get to the port of departure from China is a story in itself.
The other thing I love is that in the space of a few hours I have travelled through space and time. The teapot dates from 1790 or so and was made especially to appeal to the tea mad English upper classes. The taste for Chinese Porcelain changed the history of commerce. The cups all date from around 1800-1820 with Regency England in full swing and Jane Austen writing her beautiful masterpieces. The goblet dates from the late 19th Century when the industrious British middle classes journeyed to Europe and brought home expensive souvenirs of their stay.
As these items were scattered about the sale in dark corners and listed as “some cups and saucers”, “a glass decanter and a spare glass” and “some cups and a blue and white teapot” I managed to get them for a song.
What are they really?
Cups 1 and 2 are coffee cans and matching saucers of Derby Porcelain and date between 1800 and 1814 (this is when the red mark shown was used)
Cup 3 may be Pinxton Porcelain if an old label on it is to be believed but it is likely to date to around 1790
Goblet – Biedermeier period souvenier goblet engraved with a miniature of Schloss Bieberich 1870s
Teapot – Chinese export porcelain made around 1790 Qing dynasty porcelain painted in a style known as “Nanking”.
The peculiarly shaped decanter is of English make.
How do I know?
Don’t tell anyone! Very well made English decanters will have a tiny number engraved on the base of the stopper and a matching number somewhere on the decanter (the base in this case). Many English decanters do not have this number but if it is there, it must be English. This is known by practically no-one so it is a great way to find quality English glass but also to check if the decanter matches the stopper.
So, a few more quick tips and then you can check out your own hoards for treasures.
Dating pottery – Most pottery before 1850 is unmarked. Some companies marked their wares from very early times but a lack of a mark is normal in older items.
Cups and saucers – The oldest cups had no handles and were based on the Chinese models. Handles came in late in the 18th Century. Up until the 1820-30s saucers were separate bowls that had a tea cup and a coffee can that rested in them (coffee cans are cylindrical) and the saucer had no ring to sit the cup in. You were actually supposed to drink from the saucer originally.
Teapots – original teapots tend to be small as tea was expensive and teacups were also small.
If you reached this point well done. If you would like more information about collecting antiques then let me know and I will do a post now and then.