Danielle Arnet

The Wedgwood Butterfly Lustre bowl sold for $889 recently at Skinner in Massachusetts
Wedgwood Butterfly Lustre Bowl

The Wedgwood Butterfly Lustre bowl sold for $889 recently at Skinner in Massachusetts

Q: I inherited this Wedgwood bowl from my grandparents, who bought it in England. I believe it's a Daisy Makeig-Jones. I found a duplicate online, listed for about $300. Any info on value for insurance purposes?

A: There's a lesson here for smart collectors. See if you can figure out where I'm going with the moral.

One smart collector, our reader has already ID'ed her large bowl as Wedgwood, signed by one of the company's premier designers.

Susannah Margaretta "Daisy" Makeig-Jones worked for Wedgwood from 1909-1931. She was the artist behind their immensely popular luster (lustre in England) wares. Based on the use of metal and metal oxides in the glaze, lusters produced a metallic or iridescent surface.

One variant, introduced in 1915, was Fairyland Lustre. Her design of fantasy landscapes featuring fairies and imps is breathtaking. And expensive today. Fairyland, signed by the artist, is top-of-the-line Wedgwood for collectors. A footed punch bowl realized $2,700 in a Treadway Gallery auction last year.

But Makeig-Jones also produced other lusters.

Daniel J. Keefe III, author of "Wedgwood Ceramics", looked over images sent and told us, "The bowl is Butterfly Lustre, a subgroup of Fairyland."

The piece, with mottled red glaze on the outside and mother-of-pearl on the inside, decorated with gilded butterflies, is done in a variant of colors used. Subgroups, Keefe added, don't command the prices realized by Fairyland.

Keefe dates the bowl circa 1920s. See this column's art for a similar but not identical bowl that sold at Skinner, Inc. in Massachusetts last fall for $889. Checking the for-pay database www.worthpoint.com, we found other recent sales for $558 and $705. Which is not shabby.

At a high-end retail shop, you can expect to see a price double that of auction, Keefe added.

The lesson for smart collectors: The very best always sells best. But even at that top, there is stratification. Today's query offers a perfect example, where bowls from the same maker (Wedgwood) and of the same type (luster) do not share value. Top dollar always depends on specifics and having exactly the right thing.

Household insurance should cover the bowl.

Q: Does my inherited Wedgwood plate have any value? It's marked Wedgwood, Etruria, England, and Rouen.

A: The plate is tableware. Though made by Wedgwood, tableware is a very different animal, price and demand wise, from studio pieces such as Fairyland and Butterfly Lustre.

The pattern is Vieux Rouen, and table sets were manufactured in huge numbers. Etruria is the factory in Staffordshire, England where it was made.

When checking tableware values, start with www.replacements.com for an overview and a ballpark figure. Keying the free site www.liveauctioneers.com, we found that a set of 11 plates sold for $60 fairly recently. When we looked, eight pieces were listed on eBay, but only a pair of cups and saucers sold, for $16.24.

Q: Does our etagere have any value? It's been in the family for generations. It is solid brass but has been painted.

A: Seen in a photo, the reader has a lovely multi-level Victorian whatnot stand. Or, if you want to be fancy, call it an etagere.

Openwork design and the overall delicacy of the piece make it appealing. Done in Rococo Revival style, it exhibits all the over-the-top design elements loved by the Victorians. There are arches, loops and curlicues, with a few spindle finials, mirrors, and marble shelves thrown in for effect.

We're not told size, but the stands were typically small scale. Checking auction databases, we found that similar pieces in the original brass sold for $600-$800.

Paint would ordinarily detract from value. But in this case, the stand has such great lines that a buyer would probably overlook that flaw. Paint can always be removed.

AUCTION ACTION: A Wedgwood Butterfly Lustre bowl similar to the reader's recently brought $889 in a European Furniture and Decorative Arts auction at Skinner in Marlborough, Mass.


Today we have a 4-part quiz:

1. What is the name given to Wedgwood's line of bas-relief wares?

2. Why that name?

3. Can you name the colors?

4. What era wares do collectors prefer?

A: It is Jasper Ware. Josiah Wedgwood, the inventor, thought his new stoneware introduced in 1775 resembled the quartz stone. Early color dips were dark blue, pale blue, sage, olive green, and black. Purists believe the best was made during Wedgwood's lifetime. Others accept pieces made before WW II. Source: "Wedgwood Jasper Ware" by Michael Herman (Schiffer, $39.95).

Wedgwood Ceramics available at Amazon.com.






Collecting - Wedgwood Values All Over the Map