Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre jar offered in Surrey

Surrey auction house Ewbank’s is selling a rare and valuable jar produced by Wedgwood in the early 20th century with a price tag of £6,000-8,000 in its December 8 antiques auction.

It features colourful layered scenes of white robed, hooded figures carrying burning torches as they make their way through trees populated by fantastical creatures resembling bats and dragons, alongside pixies and goblins, amusingly offset by a fleeing white rabbit dressed in a scarlet jacket.

The extraordinary decoration on the Fairyland Lustre jar is known as the Ghostly Wood pattern, and it sprung from the vivid imagination of artist Susannah Margaretta ‘Daisy’ Makeig-Jones (British, 1881-1945).

The Rotherham-born designer joined the company in 1909 as an apprentice painter, and it was in 1915, during the dark days of the First World War, that she thought of combining patterns inspired by the Oriental wares that the factory produced with fantasy images of pixies, goblins and fairies to create her curious but captivating pieces.

Daisy caught the spirit of the times with her escapist, dreamlike patterns, produced with their lustre glazes, and its popularity spread to the United States by the 1920s, boosting Wedgewood’s fortunes.

As with so many things that burn brightly, its international success was relatively shortlived, and by the end of the decade the rise of Art Deco made it look out of date. Together with belt tightening during the Depression, which made Wedgewood review the costly manufacture of the pottery’s outstanding multi-coloured glazes, that put an end to production.

Surviving pieces in fine condition – the wares can be delicate – are much sought after by collectors, with the best making four or even five-figure-sums.

“Prices for Fairlyland Lustre wares generally range from the low hundreds to the very low thousands,” said Senior Partner Andrew Ewbank. “The £6,000-8000 estimate reflects the exceptional nature of the jar we are offering, and it would make an even bigger price if it had retained its original cover. An outstanding piece, we anticipate a flurry of bidding.”