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Porcelain collection sold for £75,000

PUBLISHED: 13:45 28 April 2008 | UPDATED: 20:15 05 July 2010

It was hidden away for more than a century. But now a unique collection of rare Lowestoft porcelain has finally emerged from the shadows to be sold for £75,000 at auction in London.

It was hidden away for more than a century. But now a unique collection of rare Lowestoft porcelain has finally emerged from the shadows to be sold for £75,000 at auction in London.

The 61-lot group of mainly blue and white ware was put together by Cecil Taylor, a solicitor in Lowestoft and an inveterate collector, who died aged 69 in 1944. Although his porcelain holding was unknown outside the family, it was the highlight of a £381,638 sale of fine china at Bonhams.

“This was a collection effectively rediscovered with a lovely romantic touch,” said Fergus Gambon, a porcelain specialist at the saleroom who dealt with the collection and catalogued it for sale.

“Specialists have been busy for years listing and cataloguing all the existing examples of Lowestoft ware. But none of the examples we sold appeared in those lists because the collection has been hidden away for more than 100 years.

“So many rare and dated pieces all turned up on one occasion - something unusual in itself - and many were unrecorded. All those elements came together and that's what appealed to buyers.”

Mr Taylor owned collections of Lalique glass, photographic equipment, and Japanese plants and ferns. His interest in porcelain was probably awakened by the discovery of the remains of the old china factory in the cellars of Morse's Brewery at Lowestoft in 1902. The original factory was active between 1757 and about 1800. Many of his pieces were bought from a local clergyman and were at some time on loan to Norwich Museum. Mr Taylor retired to Colwyn Bay, North Wales and the collection passed to his nephew. It remained with the family who now live in the Channel Islands.

Mr Gambon: “It was on display in their home and looked splendid in its cabinets but there was no one who took a particular interest in it and so I think that was one of the reasons for selling. It was lovely.”

Lowestoft porcelain is enthusiastically collected particularly in East Anglia. The most expensive piece and one of the top five items of the day was a tiny blue and white inkwell inscribed “A Trifle from Lowestoft” from 1790. It is thought to have been painted by Robert Allen, manager of the factory and a painter. It made £8,400 (estimate £8,000-£10,000).

An unrecorded small mug decorated in enamel colours with sprays of flowers and inscribed “Rebecca Lamb” from 1790 took £7,200 (£7,000-£10,000). A similar mug, also previously unknown, went to £6,000 (£2,000-£3,000).

It carried the painter's number, 5, attributed to Allen. After the business closed he carried on selling decorated ware from a shop in Lowestoft High Street.

Mr Gambon said: “Although this piece was damaged - it had a crack - the quality of its botanical painting shows that the painters were capable of really great work.”

Another mug in enamel colours also thought to be by Allen also marked “A Trifle from Lowestoft” from 1790 was bid to £5,760 (£3,000-£4,000) and a colourful armorial tea bowl and saucer from 1789 went to £2,640 (£1,500-£2,500).

This was painted with the arms of the Rev Robert Potter, vicar of Lowestoft and Prebendary of Norwich Cathedral. They were part of a tea and coffee service presented to him either by the factory or by friends and admirers. Mr Potter died aged 88 in 1804 and is buried in an alter-tomb in St Margaret's Church, Lowestoft. The two items were sold with a cutting from The Lowestoft Journal for August 18, 1928 recording the purchase of three other items from the same service by Norwich Castle Museum.

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