Saleroom Life

by Sheffield Auction Gallery

Month: June 2016

Tennis Memorabilia

Wimbledon has arrived! Tennis despite being a relatively young game, invented in 1874 by Major Walter Wingfield has many avid memorabilia collectors and early rackets are very sought after. From the mid 1870s and the 1930s the shape of the tennis racket changed enormously, so early examples with their asymmetrical heads can be very valuable regardless of any association with a known player. Those however associated with legendary players like Fred Perry are a true collectors dream and can attract thousands of pounds at auction.

Presentation trophies too are collectable though novelty items which reflect the popularity of the early game are also of interest. Teapots, clocks and particularly jewellery were produced, a wide range of which featured racket and ball motifs.

A 'Tilt Head' Racquet

A ‘Tilt Head’ Racquet

Like Wisden’s Almanack for cricket, tennis has Ayres’ Lawn Tennis Almanack, edited by Wallis Myers. Unlike Wisden’s, which is still going, it was only published from 1908 to 1938, the year that Myers died. Despite this, to realise good prices in the auction room today the Almanack must be in mint condition and a full set is desirable.

Wimbledon specific memorabilia is always collectable. Programmes from the 1930s and earlier are now very rare and a must for collectors. A particularly popular programme would be from the first Championship held at the present site in Church Road in 1922. Programmes before this when the club was located in Worple Road, also in Wimbledon, are extremely sought after, especially from the First Championship held in 1877, when would you believe, only 160 people attended.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website


The Lladró factory was established in Almacera, near Valencia in Spain in 1953 by three brothers Juan, José and Vicente Lladró who started to make vases and jugs from hard-paste porcelain. It was not until 1956 that the first figures were made, for which the company became so famous.

Lladró figures are easily identified by many common features used by almost all their different designers. Colouring is important with most pieces favouring the pale pink, white and blue glaze combination, this soft colour palette helping to add to the delicate, angelic nature of the figures. Lladró is also celebrated for its elegant smooth lines and elongation of form which again contributes to the character of their work. Lladró figures are often said to have faces full of character and more importantly to help identify genuine pieces is the fact that the colour black is never used on the eyes, eyelids or eyebrows of a Lladró figure.


The majority of Lladró figures were glazed in high-gloss so matt pieces or the preproduction pieces with a more creamy finish are both therefore rarer and generally more valuable. Figures that are larger or those with more complex mouldings are also considered more desirable.

Although Lladró figures have been made since the 1950s, it is actually quite rare to find these older pieces. The earliest examples are easy to spot as they have incised marks, by 1960 an impressed mark was the standardised format. In 1971, the blue mark was introduced and included the logo as well as name and it wasn’t actually until 1974 that the accent ever appeared over the ‘o’.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Clarice Cliff

Clarice Cliff ceramics are some of the most recognizable and collectable from the 20th century, with different shapes, patterns and designs attracting different collectors. Clarice Cliff (1899-1972) learnt her trade at Linguard Webster & Co. where she worked as an apprentice decorator before moving to A J Wilkinson Ltd of Burslem in 1916. It was here than her talents were finally acknowledged when factory owner Colley Shorter gave her her own studio in the Newport Pottery in the mid-1920s.

Clarice Cliff designs were brightly coloured, geometric patterns that had never been seen before with her first range; ‘Bizarre Ware’ launching in 1928. She painted many of the wares herself but her popularity and success saw the necessity for a team of painters to be trained up by her. This team of women is often referred to as the ‘Bizarre Girls’. As time went on, and their skills in
depicting Cliff’s designs increased, they were given a certain amount of free reign and this can be seen in wares where the designs are slightly altered from the original. Examples like this are keenly collected.

Clarice Cliff 'Cowslip'

Clarice Cliff ‘Cowslip’

Popular patterns include ‘Poplar’, ‘Crocus’ and ‘Coral Firs’, although collectability is defined also by shape, rarity and colour. The colour orange is common while purple is generally rarer. Sugar sifters or honey pots, for example, may be the focus of a collection with the conical sugar sifter launched in 1931 being one of the most iconic designs of Cliff’s career. Alternatively plates, which are relatively cheaper to acquire and show off Cliff’s designs particularly well, may act as a basis for a beginner collector.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Beswick Animals

The Beswick Pottery was founded in 1894 in Staffordshire by John Beswick and his father James Wright Beswick. It began life manufacturing the usual array of earthenware and bone china vases and tableware but by the turn of the century had ventured into animal models. These models were a huge success, and undoubtedly what Beswick is best known for today, and by 1930 had moved from a sideline to a major part of Beswick pottery productions.

A Beswick Pheasant

A Beswick Pheasant

Arthur Gredington is probably the modeller who had the most influence over the animal ranges produced by Beswick as he was chief modeller designing most of them from 1939 to 1957. There is a huge selection of animals available including birds, dogs, cats and a whole host of farmyard beasts with some being more popular and valuable to collectors. Horses are a particular favourite as are the cows and bulls; especially the larger, more impressive variations. Due to the huge variety of models available, collectors do tend to concentrate their collections on a particular animal.

Some models were only made for a short time and therefore more desirable today, for example the Galloway Bull which was made from 1963 to 1969. He is available in all black, black with a central white belt and fawn and brown, with the all black version considered the most valuable by collectors. This happens with many of the models; they are produced in very similar forms and one particular variation will be the most desirable.

The animals were produced with both matt and gloss glazes and as a general, but not exclusive, rule the matt is more highly valued. Beswick was eventually sold to Royal Doulton in 1969 but animals marked ‘Beswick’ continued to be made until 1989.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Baxter Prints

George Baxter (1804-1867) is regarded by some as the ‘inventor’ of colour printing; he achieved a way to bring colour printing to the masses in a cheaper and more time effective way. Before Baxter, colour printing meant hand painting which was labour intensive and thus expensive, Baxter’s process, patented in 1835, put an end to this. The process involved a steel key plate and a number of wooden and metal colour blocks.

The image was first engraved onto the key plate which was laid onto the paper to leave a monochrome image; blocks were then produced with the same image each representing a different colour. Each individual block was inked and added to the paper in a prescribed order. Baxter was a perfectionist taking time to ensure each colour was dry between pressings, resulting in only two colours being applied each day.

Baxter’s most detailed and complex scenes are the most sought after and valuable today. The scene of ‘Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria receiving the Sacrament at her Coronation’ showing the Queen kneeling at the altar before the Archbishop of Canterbury, which he was invited to capture by Prince Albert himself, is one of Baxter’s most famous and contained over two hundred recognisable faces. The full coloured version took him years to complete and wasn’t published until 1841, three years after the coronation.

Originally Baxter’s prints were used for frontispieces in books but quickly a market for his prints in their own right developed. Between 1835 and 1860 he produced approximately 400 different prints but his attention to detail made him slow, he regularly missed deadlines including those of International Exhibitions and this combined with his lack of business expertise lead to bankruptcy by 1865.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

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