Ask A Worthologist Question: Staffordshire Pearl Figural Group

Ten years ago, Jessie H. got into a bidding war for a ceramic figurine at an auction. He paid $500 for it—more than he wanted to pay—but he was happy he won the piece. Now, considering selling it, he engaged WorthPoint’s “Ask A Worthologist” service to discover its value.

Jessie H. got into a bidding war 10 years ago for a ceramic figurine at an auction. While he ended up paying more than he wanted, he was happy he won the piece. Now, a decade later, he feels it’s time for it to go, if he can get the right price. He engaged WorthPoint’s Ask a Worthologist service to check its value before selling it. The question was forwarded to me. Here’s his question:

“I was at an farm auction about 10 years ago and this piece caught my attention, as several dealer types were flocked around it pretending not to be very interested in it. I liked the look of it and figured if the dealers were that interested it must be worth having. There didn’t appear to be many people at the sale who weren’t dealers, the weather being nasty, so I stayed. I got bid up pretty good, I got angry and ended up paying more than $500 for it. Now I want to sell it. If you could look at the images and tell me if I can get more than I paid for it I’ll let it go. It measures about 13.5 inches long and about 9 inches high, the markings you can see in the images.”

Here’s my response:

I don’t think you have to worry much about getting your money back. Even 10 years ago you got a very good deal. Chances are the dealers at that auction had a good idea the piece was unusual, but were not sure enough to take a chance and bid higher than their comfort levels. Pieces like this do not often appear at country auctions, and unless a dealer is familiar with early 19th century Staffordshire figures, they are not likely to bid beyond their “best guess” as to the wholesale value to get it.

Based on your images, this appears to be a rare example of the Staffordshire Pearl ware figural group titled “Bull Beating,” circa 1835. Pieces like this are pottery with hand-painted polychrome enamel decoration, this one depicting a bull being attacked by two trained dogs, and a man holding up a stick. The raised base titled “Bull Beating” and “Now Captin Lad.”

The piece is generally accepted to be what’s called a “Sherratt Type,” after one Obadiah Sherratt, who credited with producing pieces in this form. Very little is known of Sherratt himself, other than he potted during the early years of the 19th century, and his name is actually attached to only two other pieces I know of. You’ll be happy to know your investment was well worth it. If you were to put it into auction today, I’d recommend a presale value on it in the $4,000-$6,000 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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