Rare Potter pottery goes under hammer

Sometimes beautiful isn’t best, and current popularity is no guarantee of future success.

Take, for instance, the Beatrix Potter miniatures range by Stoke-on-Trent pottery Beswick. Everyone wanted a Peter Rabbit, or a Benjamin Bunny, so they spawned like, well, rabbits.

But The Duchess? Pig Wig? Susan the cat, Pickles the terrier, or Babbitty Bumblebee? These were only of interest to the most avid collectors, and as a result are rare as hens’ teeth today.

Beswick first started producing miniatures from the Beatrix Potter books in 1948, just five years after the author’s death, but nearly half a century since The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first told.

Hundreds of thousands were produced between their launch – the first miniature was of Jemima Puddle-Duck – and 1989.

The range was relaunched in 1998 for the collectors’ market, and continued until 2002 when Beswick owners Royal Doulton closed the Gold Street works and the Beswick name was discontinued.

By coincidence, antiques auctioneers Moore Allen & Innocent will be offering for sale three separate collections of Beswick Beatrix Potter miniatures in Cirencester on Friday, March 15.

And the best of the bunch – containing ‘brown stamp’ miniatures produced in the 1970s – includes some real gems.

Alongside the aforementioned Pig Wig (estimate £60 to £80), Babbitty Bumblebee (£80 to £120), Pickles (£100 to £150) and the rarest of the bunch – The Duchess holding a pie, at £200 to £300 – are some interestingly anomalies.

There are a pair of almost identical Pigling Blands: the one in the light colours, so attractive to young girls, with an estimate of £30 to £50, the rarer version in the maroon coat and with darker features with an estimate of £100 to £150.

Similarly, a version of the adult, pipe-smoking Benjamin Bunny in maroon coat should command bids of £70 to £90: three or four times what could be expected of the same miniature painted in lighter colours.

Also by Beswick is a collection of porcelain huntsmen, hounds and foxes. Brown horse and rider, along with rearing horse and rider, are expected to attract bids of £100 to £150 each, while grey horse and rider should make £150 to £250.

Meanwhile, a pack of 20 hounds in various poses, along with two foxes, carry an estimate of £200 to £300.

Staying with Staffordshire pottery, a large collection of future classics by Moorcroft will be going under the hammer. The vases, pots and jars were all produced during the 1990s and 2000s, and many come in their original blue presentation boxes.

Among the best are four large vases, a small vase and a jar and cover from the circa 2003 Knypersley range by Emma Bossons, now discontinued, which should each achieve £100 to £150, a large ginger jar at £250 to £350, and a Penstemon vase at £250 to £350.

For a full auction catalogue, log on to www.mooreallen.co.uk

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