Rare Lowestoft porcelain set to break auction record

A RARE piece of Lowestoft Porcelain is expected to fetch more than �20,000 and set a world record when it is auctioned today.

The bottle and basin, made at the company's Lowestoft factory in about 1764, is attracting interest from collectors around the world, with auctioneer Russell Sprake putting an estimate of between �24,000-�27,000 on the lot – and saying the sum could go even higher.

Painted by Robert Allen, who was just 20 at the time, the bottle and basin are decorated in the familiar blue paint with iconic views of Lowestoft in the 18th century – the High Light, two windmills, St Margaret's Church, the Low Light, the Battery and ships in the Roadstead.

The �24,000 to �27,000 estimate would smash the previous record for a piece of Lowestoft Porcelain and Mr Sprake, of Earsham, near Bungay, is expecting a full house at the Beaconsfield Club in Surrey Street, Lowestoft, for today's eagerly awaited sale.

He said there had already been inquiries from Australia, Canada, the United States and Belgium with local hotels and guest houses benefiting from bookings by those expecting to attend.

The bottle and basin are part of a collection of a Lowestoft Porcelain connoisseur and will be the last lot in the catalogue to be put under the hammer at the sale. The bottle is nine inches tall and the basin nine and three-quarter inches in diameter. Both carry the painter's mark '5'.

The sale also marks Mr Sprake's 50th anniversary as an auctioneer. He said: 'There is huge interest – they are iconic pieces. A similar pair, decorated by Richard Phillips, is in Norwich Castle Museum.'

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When the last lot of Lowestoft Porcelain was sold at Sotheby's on April 20, 1948, it was bought by Green and Hatfield for �80 but in the 63 years since then the interest and value of Lowestoft Porcelain has rocketed.

Another impressive item in the auction is a seven-inch blue and white jug, inscribed 'Thos Davy, Fressingfield 1782'. It is estimated to fetch �4,000-�6,000.