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The Welsh Sale

5 December 2020 10:00 AM
Cardiff Saleroom, South Wales

The Welsh Sale is a hugely popular auction of Welsh Art and Welsh porcelain, pottery and selected Welsh items.

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The sale has been operating for over 10 years in its current format and has in that time generated some record prices. We have in depth knowledge and expertise in the foremost Welsh artists, Swansea & Nantgarw porcelain and Llanelly pottery. We were the valuers of Sir Kyffin Williams’s estate in 2006 and his art work is a prominent feature of every Welsh Sale as is Donald McIntyre, Josef Herman, Graham Sutherland, Gwilym Prichard, C F Tunnicliffe, John Piper and most of the well-known 20th Century Welsh painters.

We are enormously pleased with the variety for this forthcoming Welsh Sale particularly as it has been a quick turn-around since the last auction.

Welsh Antiques

(Lot 1-14)

As usual The Welsh Sale commences at 10am with a small section of characteristically Welsh antiques to accompany your tea and toast. Those of us who follow our Welsh Sales will know that we sell the iconic Prince of Wales Investiture chairs regularly, some of you will also be aware of how their value has risen sharply over the last few years. This increased value is not down to a resurgent interest in the monarchy, instead it is down to their striking aesthetic value. The chair is now regarded as an important example of mid-Century design.

There are four examples in this Welsh Sale. The 1968 Investiture set at Caernarfon Castle, including the seating, was designed by the Charles’ former uncle Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon with help from the stage designer Carl Toms (1927-99) and John Pound, the principal design officer with the Supplies Division of the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works. Made in vermillion-stained beech and plywood, embossed with the Prince of Wales motif in gold leaf and upholstered in Welsh tweed, some 4000 chairs were made by the Remploy factory in Bridgend. They were sold flat-packed after the ceremony for £12 each with invited guests given first refusal.

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Lot 5 in this section is one of the most eye-catching Welsh longcase clocks I have seen at our salerooms. The vivid colours of the Aberystwyth clock dial have enormous wow factor. I am also very taken with Lot 8, the simply made pair of story-telling paddles featuring the Ladies of Llangollen, which have a fascinating social history relating to Trefnant, in Denbighshire. It is probably the ladies’ first outing to the market since they were handmade around a century ago.

Welsh Ceramics

(Lot 15 – 133)

The second part of the auction is dominated by Welsh ceramics, this is thanks mainly to the instructions on behalf of a west Wales estate, but also from other sources over the border. There are fifty-five lots of porcelain from the kilns of Nantgarw and Swansea, while there are fifty-seven lots of antique Swansea pottery.

I have in previous Welsh Sale catalogues focussed my introductions on the wonderful porcelain that was produced in Wales at the beginning of the 19th Century. Again, there are some superb examples of Nantgarw and Swansea porcelain in this Welsh Sale, which have been a joy to handle. The pick of the bunch being the first in line, Lot 15 which is of museum quality and rarity.

LOT 15

A fine and very rare Nantgarw porcelain plate in the Meissen style

Estimate £3000 – 5000

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LOT 19

A Nantgarw porcelain plate in the Sevres style

Estimate £600-1000

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The porcelain production only lasted from 1813 – 1826, but earthenware was made on a large scale in Swansea and the surrounds, for over 100 years. It was a successful story of Welsh ambition and endeavour that should not be forgotten.

The family-names which are often painted on to Welsh pottery is fascinating. Many such surnames as ‘Lukey’ and ‘Blee’ are of Cornish extraction, while Lot 88 is a wonderfully modest blue and white jug, emblazoned with the words ‘Unity’. One may be excused for thinking the word related to politics, but in fact it relates to pilchards not politics! And again, with a Cornish connection as they are Cornish-based pilchards to be precise. The reason for the common links to Cornwall is the high number of Cornish industrialists who settled in South Wales at the beginning of the industrial revolution.

LOT 88

An early Swansea earthenware unity milk jug

Estimate £200-400

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LOT 95

A George III Swansea Pottery pearlware documentary plate

Estimate £400-700

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There are also several documentary and political satire pottery items which provide an insight into how the Welsh public viewed local, national, and international affairs, including the temperance movement, the Crimea War and political reform. My personal choice from these would be the fascinating Lot 100, described as a ‘visual illusion mug’ with hidden images of George III, Caroline, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.

LOT 89

A rare Swansea Cambrian earthenware political satire jug of Napoleon

Estimate £200-400

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The cataloguing process for this section of The Welsh Sale has been a voyage of discovery and I have included ‘Auctioneer’s Notes’ with regards to many of items of pottery. We hope you find these notes as interesting as I did when researching them. And in case you are new to the history of Swansea Pottery, I have included before the catalogue section, a chronological background to the century of production.

LOT 125

A Swansea Cambrian pearlware ship transfer plate

Estimate £100-150

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Prints & Multiples

(Lot 140 – 180)

There is a good selection of Welsh prints in the auction and Paul Peter Piech (1920-1996) makes a return visit with seven examples. One can rely on Piech’s artwork to convey positive messages of love, global cooperation, world peace, equality, and fairness. As well as a serving of Welsh patriotism and love for the Welsh language. Although Piech was born in Brooklyn, New York to Ukrainian immigrants he came to Wales during the second world war, stayed here and fully embraced Wales and Welsh to the full.

LOT 165

Paul Peter Piech

Estimate £300-500

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Works on Paper

(Lot 188 – 259)

Around lunchtime on Super Saturday we will be starting the watercolours. The offering is eclectic with good examples from many of our favourite artists. It will be interesting to see how Lot 254 performs as David Jones (1895-1974) is one of the twentieth century’s most influential artists in poetry and in paint. He was born and raised in London, the son of James Jones of Flintshire, and at an early age knew that he would devote his life to art. At the outbreak of World War I, Jones enlisted with the Royal Welch Fusiliers and served for three years on the Western Front and was involved in the battle of Mametz Wood.

His experiences in the trenches took its toll and he suffered two severe nervous breakdowns later in life. His painting of watercolours was as much a therapy as it was a vocation. Lot 254 was discovered in an estate sale in the English-Welsh borders, but its prior history and the location of the scene is a mystery. We have no doubts that it is by David Jones’ hand, clearly seen in his distinct technique with trees, shrubs, and sky. The back of the picture offers more intrigue with a partial label which does not seem to match up with the picture. The painting has a lot of mystery which may act as a challenge to solve for prospective buyers, or perhaps only the ghosts of time can explain the picture fully.

LOT 254

David Jones (1895-1974)

Estimate £7000-10000

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Oils & Other Medium

(Lot 264 – 387)

The afternoon session offers plenty of excitement with a host of quality oil paintings. John Elwyn (1916 – 1997) features again with a range of examples which show his versatility in capturing multiple subject matters. There are some stunning paintings by Wilf Roberts, one of Ynys Mon’s favourite artists, as well as terrific examples from the Welsh-Scottish colourist Donald McIntyre. My personal favourite in the oil section is Lot 348 which is an exquisite Gwilym Prichard; the colours in this painting of northern France are beautifully balanced. Also in Europe, there is Lot 371, an oil by Sir Kyffin Williams, the subject being a street in Belgium, it is accompanied by a poignant letter about his visit to Saint-Valerie-sur-Somme. The Continental street is juxtaposed with a young boy and a Welsh sheepdog, the artist himself as a lad we can assume.

LOT 254

Wilf Roberts

£1000-1500

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LOT 345

Donald McIntyre

Estimate £3000-4000

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LOT 348

Gwilym Prichard

Estimate £2500-3500

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