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Ask A Worthologist Question: Dresser-Designed Minton Porcelain Vase

by Mike Wilcox (12/07/10).

Anne J.’s grandfather brought this vase back from England after the Second World War. She knows that it’s marked as made by Minton’s, but she wanted to learn its value. After turning to “Ask a Worthologist,” Mike Wilcox was able to give her a little history and a nice valuation.

Anne J. has a piece of porcelain that her grandfather had picked up in England during the Second World War. Looking for a value before deciding whether to sell it, she engaged WorthPoint’s “Ask a Worthologist” service. The question was forwarded to me. Here is her question:

“I inherited this vase a couple of years ago from my Grandfather; we were told he purchased it in England from an antique shop when he was stationed there during World War Two. It’s an unusual vase, it looked like cloisonné when I first looked at it, but it’s not metal, it’s porcelain. The stamp on the bottom is a crown over a globe with the name “Mintons” in the center of it. There is also as symbol that looks like a shield with a number in it, but it’s hard to read. It’s a beautiful piece, but doesn’t go with anything in my house and I would like to find out what it’s worth before I try and sell it.”

After investigating the mark, I was able to determine the source of Anne’s grandwather’s piece:

The Minton mark.

Based on the images and the company marking, your grandfather had very good taste. The markings indicate this vase was made by the well-known English porcelain maker Minton in 1891. The Mintons mark shown was used from 1873-1891, and the shield mark you mention is a date code used by Minton: the shield mark with a number in it was used from 1891-1894; numeral 1 for 1891; numeral 2 for 1892; numeral 3 for 1893; and numeral 4 for 1894.

The reason the vase resembles cloisonné is because that was the original intention of the designer of these Minton pieces, the renowned Christopher Dresser (1834-1904). Dresser was a Renaissance man of many talents and now considered Britain’s first independent industrial designer and a driving force of the Anglo-Japanese and Aesthetic movements in Britain. He wrote several books on design, including “The Development of Ornamental Art in the International Exhibition” (1862), “The Art of Decorative Design” (1862) and “Principles of Design” (1871–72).

Dresser produced designs for more than 50 firms, some well-known companies such as Royal Worcester, Wedgwood and Minton for ceramics, Elkington and James Dixon for silver-plate, and Coalbrookdale for cast iron. Dresser’s connection with Minton lasted from about 1860 until the 1880s.

Now, about your piece in particular: vases in Minton’s cloisonné style are highly sought after and valuable pieces, in even the depressed markets of today. Vases similar to yours still sell in the $1,800- $2,500 range.

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.

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