Up to 250 pieces of Blue John, with estimates ranging from £30-£30,000, have started a tour of the country ahead of Fellows’ sale next month. Antique Collecting asked Fellows’ expert Mark Huddleston to reveal the collection’s secrets
AC. Is this the largest collection of Blue John to come on to the market?
MH. To the best of our knowledge, this is the most extensive collection of Blue John offered in one sale at auction.
AC. Where do the collections originate?
MH. The main body of the sale has been amassed over a number of years by a Midlands collector; some pieces have been acquired from private houses, and some from auction sales, to put together a broad collection.
AC. Is there a particular story as to why Fellows is handling the sale?
MH. The vendor has previously successfully sold pieces with Fellows. We sold a Blue
AC. Are there any smaller items within this Blue John collection? Do they span the decades or are they all of a period?
MH. The sale embraces values from £30 to £30,000 and from the 18th century onwards, in most available forms – so there is a wide variety to suit all tastes and pockets.
AC. Who do you expect to be bidding for these items?
MH. We expect interest from a number of museums including Derbyshire-based, up to national level, as well as specialist antique dealers, jewellers, UK-based private collectors and those overseas – particularly in the US and China.
AC. Can you give a rough estimate as to what the total value of the sale might be?
MH. A tentative pre-sale estimate would be £300,000 but judging by the last Blue John pieces we sold we would be unsurprised to be looking at close to half a million pounds once bids are in. When we sold a Blue John urn, a bowl and a goblet last year all went for three times their estimate. We are based in Birmingham, which is close to Derbyshire and relatively convenient for private collectors and museums, as well as being close London and its major antique dealers. We also host our sales live online to the US and China, and employ two Chinese staff to assist with bidding.
AC. What do you do you personally like about Blue John?
MH. For me it’s the astounding variations in colour from creamy yellow, almost like Sienna marble, to deep rust reds. The different depths and exposure to water affect the rock in different ways. In terms of what certain pieces will achieve it is difficult to say, because of their rarity the big one-off pieces will not be affected by the traditional market. We’ll have to wait and see.
This is an excerpt from a full article taken from the July issue of Antique Collecting. To read the full article take a look at our subscription options in both print and digital.