Saleroom Life

by Sheffield Auction Gallery

Month: November 2016

The Canterbury

In the most basic terms, the Canterbury is a low, opened top piece of furniture with partitions or slats for storing sheet music, often made with additional storage in the bottom in the form of a drawer; in modern terms, a magazine rack. The Canterbury was made with short legs that stood on castors, making it easy to move around.

It is largely acknowledged that the name originated from the Archbishop of Canterbury who first commissioned one in the 1780s. The Archbishop in question, Frederick Cornwallis serving from 1768 to 1783, had aristocratic associations and thus likely connections with prominent cabinet-makers of the time before his appointment to Archbishop adding weight to the theory that the name came from him.

Thomas Sheraton (1751-1806), an English cabinet-maker who is credited as having a significant influence over furniture design of the late 18th century, appears to be the first to use the name Canterbury in his 1803 book ‘The Cabinet Dictionary’. Other key examples of Canterbury designs are included in George Smith’s ‘A collection of designs for household furniture and interior decoration’ from 1808 and John Claudius Loudon’s ‘The Encyclopaedia of Cottage, Farm, Villa Architecture’ in 1834. The Canterbury began life as a simple, functional piece of furniture but grew more elaborate with time and remained popular throughout the Victorian and Edwardian periods.


It is also important to note that during this period, sheet music was made more widely available due to the new printing processes making it more affordable and so the design of such a piece of furniture seems inevitable, to sit by the piano in the more wealthy of homes.

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


Although Moorcroft is a successful tale of father and son, it is the father, William who is most highly acclaimed. Born in 1873, William Moorcroft first showed his abilities as a truly innovative designer and artist while working for James Macintyre & Co from 1897. During his time with the company, he produced the famous Art Nouveau-inspired Florian Ware. While Moorcroft was producing designs for Macintyre they were actually all credited and signed personally by him helping him establish a name and reputation before eventually splitting from Macintyre
and setting up on his own in 1913.

William continued to produce ceramics of great quality and design using new techniques such as tube-lining and difficult ones like the flambé glaze to mark his pieces out as exceptional, until his death in 1945. He produced many patterns and designs some of the most desirable being Hazledene with its combination of green, yellow or blue tones, Spanish with its dramatic scrolling flowers and deep red and green pallet and Moonlit Blue with its striking cobalt blue ground. The early designs are very popular with collectors especially the toadstools of the Claremont pattern as well as the early Poppy and Iris designs.

A collection of Moorcroft

A collection of Moorcroft

Walter Moorcroft, William’s son, took over after his death and continued to produce work of high standard, particularly new floral designs including Hibiscus, Magnolia and Lily. However, the most sought after Moorcroft pieces remain those produced pre-1945 by William himself. It is important to note that William Moorcroft signed or monogrammed all his pieces, while his son, Walter, only did so with those over 13cm (5in) in height.

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

Newcomb Pottery

Newcomb Pottery was essentially the products that came from the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College founded in 1895 with the primary aim of training women as potters, with the emphasis on ceramic decoration. It was under the artistic direction of Professor Ellsworth Woodward from the Cincinnati Art Academy and his assistant Miss Mary G. Sheerer.

What began as a type of educational experiment blossomed into a hugely successful commercial venture that gave Southern women, after the Civil War, the opportunity to both train as artists and support themselves financially. Once the women had completed the course of instruction, typically four years, they were free to continue producing and selling through the college without paying tuition fees. Student designers of note include Henrietta Bailey, Harriet Joor and Sadie Irvine.

Newcomb pottery was produced in the Arts and Crafts style with many shapes inspired by oriental and rustic pottery. Pieces were typically decorated with flora and fauna particularly representative of the American South such as tobacco and cotton plants or lizard and waterfowl. The early wares had a very distinctive palette of colour including yellow, green and blue with shiny luminous glazes. The most recognisable Newcomb pieces tended to be produced in a bluish green glaze.


It is largely understood that the golden age for Newcomb was the early days from 1897 to 1917 during which time the school experimented with many new glazes and won numerous awards across America and Europe. The quality of the work declined in the 1930s with the pottery eventually closing in 1940.

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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