Saleroom Life

by Sheffield Auction Gallery

Month: August 2017

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau describes a style used in architecture and the arts from the last decade of the 19th century and into the early years of the 20th century and it had essentially two main aims. One was a rejection of the historical retrospective styles so prominent in the latter half of the 19th century. Art Nouveau was of the here and now and the future, not an imitation of past styles.

However the style did at times use ideas and motifs of medieval origin. The other aim was a rejection of another trend, that of naturalism, which was basically an imitation or copy of the natural world and everyday life. Art Nouveau did embrace nature but not in the form of imitation. Some of the most characteristic and recognisable images of Art Nouveau are the undulating or waving lines and the stylised foliage motifs.

A De Morgan Fireplace Tile

A De Morgan Fireplace Tile

The style, as with all styles, does have many variations and these depend on several factors, including country of production, techniques and materials. Also many items produced did not live up to the aspirations of the style. Many, for example, included too many New-Classical influences or relied too heavily on Japanese or Eastern themes.

Art Nouveau can provide a wealth of collecting themes. There are many well known names to be found including Galle, an important artist in the French Art Nouveau who is known for his polychrome glass vases; Tiffany from New York who also did wonderful things with glass and Lalique who truly raised the level of applied arts with his ability to turn even a piece of jewellery into an intricate work of art.

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 Great Exhibition

Last week, in connection with a pot cupboard, The Great Exhibition came into a conversation I was having with a client. This exhibition was one of the most successful things to happen in Victorian England and has influenced many styles and manufacturing processes since. It was housed in a 19 acre glass structure which occupied part of the 26 acre site in Hyde Park. It took just four months to build and because of all the glass, was christened “Crystal Palace” by Punch Magazine. The doors opened on May 1st 1851 and closed on October 11th. There were almost 14,000 exhibitions and more than six million people visited in the 141 days the exhibition was open (no Sunday trading in Victorian England).

It was an attempt (and a very successful one) to give a living picture of the point at which the world had reached in design and manufacturing. More than 6,500 of the 14,000 exhibitors were foreign so everyone who visited could see what life was like everywhere in the world. The exhibition also acted as a platform for the further development of 19th century style and design. After the exhibition many debates took place about the future of the Crystal Palace. Eventually it was decided to dismantle it and rebuild it at Sydenham, where it was opened in 1854, eventually burning down in November 1936.

The pot cupboard was a mid Victorian piece, so it was produced around the time of the Great Exhibition. A similar example would almost certainly have been seen at the Crystal Palace, along with everything from babies’ bonnets to four poster beds and agricultural machinery.

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

Reuge Sainte Croix

The time is 7.30pm, the day is Friday and it is late November. Outside it is dark and cold and a lady waits in the softly lit hallway of her late Art Deco home. Her husband will bring the car to the door. He always brings the car to the door on special nights and tonight is very special, the companies biggest ever Christmas ball.

She carefully takes her Reuge Sainte Croix musical compact/cigarette case from her handbag and checks her lipstick one last time. Oh how she loves her Reuge Sainte Croix. There is a possibility that it is that very same compact which we have for sale in our Antiques and Fine Art auction at the end of September. There is also, I have to say, a possibility that it is not. Either way, I bet it could tell us a wonderful tale.

Sainte Croix is situated in the Jura mountains in Switzerland near the border with France. It was in that beautiful location in the 1860’s that Charles Reuge established his first shop, selling musical pocket watches. He developed a tiny musical cylinder which could be incorporated into a watch movement.

Charles’ son, Albert, further developed the business by opening a small musical box workshop. It was however Charles’ grandson Guido Reuge who successfully guided the company through the middle years of the twentieth century, putting musical movements into all sorts of wonderful things. He was at the helm when our lovely little compact rolled out of Sainte Croix and into the arms of a lucky lady.

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

Wade Whimsies

Wade Whimsies are endearing animal subjects, modelled for maximum cuteness. At only 5.4cm their size added to their charm.

There were a total of one hundred and nine Whimsies released by Wade in two separate series.The first ones came out in 1953. They were made in two factories in Ireland and Staffordshire and were sold in boxed sets of five. The two factories took turns at producing new sets creating a healthy competition between themselves which is believed to be responsible for the high quality of these early models.The models were all hand painted with soft pastel colours.

There were ten sets, the first five sets had a general selection of animals and the last five had themes; Polar animals, pedigree dogs, a Zoo, North American animals and farm animals. The tenth set was released in 1959.
Wade continued to make Whimsies after this but rather than being sold to the public they were packaged as giveaways and some even found their way into Christmas crackers.

Overwhelmed by the continuing popularity Wade eventually issued a new series in 1971 which continued to be sold until 1984. The second series of Whimsies is recognised by Collectors to be less well moulded. There is lack of definition in the legs, feet and base which was so clear and distinct in the first series. Not all the models are hand painted as they were in the first series. The second series realised much lower prices than the more collectable first series.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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

Susie Cooper

Born into a middle class family in the Potteries in 1902, Susie Cooper was hardly a typical factory worker. She joined local pottery A E Gray & Co. Ltd. to gain the experience of working in the decorative arts that she required to attend London’s Royal College of Art. Initially Cooper was a production line painter, but her talent was quickly spotted and instead of going to London, she became a designer at Gray’s.

Cooper was influenced by other artists, but her contribution to the company’s style, – hand painted and abstract patterns with thick bands of colour – was highly personal. Gray’s used a factory mark with the words ‘Designed by Susie Cooper’ to identify her work. This early work of flowers and Chintzware is still very popular with collectors.

By 1929, Cooper had left Gray’s and set up on her own in premises at the Chelsea Works, Burslem. Products made after her departure from Gray’s are marked ‘A Susie Cooper Production’.  However, in 1931, after interest from Wood & Sons, she moved to a larger studio at their Crown Works and products were then marked with the familiar leaping deer that is most associated with her work. The 1930s were the most dazzling years for Cooper and the high demand for her work led to her use of lithography at a time when most firms were still using mechanical decoration.

By the late 1930s, Cooper was producing up to two hundred new designs a year, featuring banding, polka dots and stylised flowers. Patterns that were both modern and timeless such as ‘Patricia Rose’ and ‘Endon’ were key to her success, appealing to a far wider audience than the work of many of her contemporaries.

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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