In the 1800's the middle class had arrived and they wanted to share some of the elegant trappings of the wealthy. A second level of society had leisure time and funds to decorate their homes with upholstered furniture, draperies and china. That leisure time also inspired a growing interest in nature. Bird watching, entomology and botany were all the rage.
At the Great Exhibition of 1851, Mintons Ltd. introduced a line of clear, lead glazed pottery that was a riot of colour and nature inspired designs. Fish and coral danced across fish serving pieces. Strawberries hung from vine handles on fruit serving spoons. Cauliflowers poured tea and vases were shaped like bird nests, complete with modelled birds clinging to the side. It was whimsical and eye catching and every sample piece had sold out by the end of the exhibition.
It's worth familiarising yourself with this style of pottery, so you can spot it at garage sales and thrift shops. It's highly collectible and the pieces I have bought and resold have earned easily 10 times or more what I paid for it.
When you are starting out with majolica, it's handy to have a guidebook to get an idea of styles and values. I began with The Collectors Encyclopedia of Majolica, by Mariann Katz-Marks. ~
Every time money gets tight around here, I sell off my collection. Majolica has saved my butt more than once!
Without a doubt, the ladies who lived in my house in the 1800's had majolica pieces on their dinner tables and in the parlour. This little grape and vine pitcher holds buttercups on my bedroom dresser. ~
A miniature vase has relief blossoms and leaves applied to a cobalt blue background. ~
A favourite of mine is a piece styled as a woven basket with a raised ribbon twined around the handle. It was a gift from my dad and safe from the auction block! ~
The little pansy shaped butter pat is safe as well as it belonged to my grandmother. ~
The star of the show in my house is a large bowl. It is doubly collectible to me because it has a staple repair to one handle. That kind of repair hasn't been done since the early 1900's.
The colours are vibrant. The outside has a design with Persian influence and a beautiful gladiola graces the inside of the bowl. To me it screams Victorian sentiment and fascination with travel and the natural world! ~
The value of antiques fluctuates wildly with economic trends and fashion, so I always hesitate to call any of them a sure thing. I do know that majolica has been a consistent money maker for me for over 20 years. It has been collectible enough for fakes to show up on the market and I'll give you some tips on recognising the real thing on the next post.
Who knows? You just may stumble across a Minton, figural centrepiece at a yard sale and pocket yourself a few hundred dollars!
I'm sharing this with: Cottage Style Party