Moorcroft family collection

A unique family collection from the grandson of William Moorcroft, founder of the legendary Staffordshire Potteries at the start of the 20th century, is to be auctioned at Hansons auctioneers in Derbyshire next month.

A William Moorcroft and Bernard Moore (attributed) red glazed vase. Estimate £150-250
A William Moorcroft and Bernard Moore (attributed) red glazed vase. Estimate £150-250

The collection includes everything from personal items and prototypes to photographic plate slides recording the design ranges and output of the Moorcroft factory and William Moorcroft’s previous factory of James MacIntyre. The entire collection is a snapshot of a family whose influence on design has spread across the globe and spanned generations.

Francis Arthur Edwardes for the Duchess of Sutherland Cripples Guild, an Arts and Crafts enamelled copper plaque of Eve picking an apple from a serpent entwined tree, framed in silvered copper, Estimate £400-600

Recognised as one of the most iconic and widely collected of antiques, Moorcroft ceramics are instantly recognised for their tube-lined decoration. While still in existence and producing new and innovative designed from its Stoke based factory, the original and classic designs of its founder William Moorcroft are as popular as ever.

Collaboration with the London department store Liberty and Co in the early 20th century secured Moorcroft Pottery as one of the most iconic and influential potteries in the world. A combination of exclusivity and availability has fuelled the market for Moorcroft, with items falling into every category (from more affordable classic patterns to exhibition pieces), making it accessible, yet valuable.

The unique collection which will be sold in Hansons Decorative Arts & Design auction on 21st February features personal items such as William Moorcroft’s top hat, alongside experimental pieces by both William and his son, Walter. Being an established Staffordshire name, Moorcroft was involved with many other local businesses such as Bernard Moore and the Duchess of Sutherland Cripples Guild. The latter factory produced metalware and decorative items in aid of injured workmen from the potteries at the beginning of the 20th century. Famed for their silver plated copper work, typically Arts and Crafts in both manufacture and style, examples of their work also feature in the Moorcroft collection.

William Moorcroft’s silk top hat, Christy’s of London, approx size 7 1/8. Worn by William Moorcroft at his factory. Estimate £200-400

More unusual domestic items include a biscuit barrel with a transfer printed Pomegranate design, perhaps the inspiration for the famous Moorcroft Pomegranate pattern or vice versa. Domestic objects such as bell pulls and buttons highlight the diversity of Moorcroft production and a nod towards the Arts and Crafts principles of utility and function in design.

Modern pieces by Sally Tuffin who worked for Dennis China Works in the 1980s and 1990s, were collected by later generations of the family, and will feature alongside contemporary Moorcroft pieces. John Keightley, Head of Decorative Arts at Hansons comments, “It has been a privilege to handle this unique collection of the personal possessions of one of the greatest designer potters of the 20th century. The stories behind the objects and social significance of some of the items shed a new light on the man and his role.”

The Moorcroft collection will be on public view at Hansons Auctioneers on Wednesday 15th February with the auction taking place on Tuesday 21st February.

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