Strawser Auction Holds Ed and Marilyn Flower Majolica Collection Aug 23
Two majolica creations by the French artist Charles-Jean Avisseau sold for a combined $71,340 and a pair of majolica pieces by George Jones together brought $57,455 at the Part 1 sale of the outstanding majolica collection of Ed Flower (1929-2022) and his wife Marilyn (1930-2017), held August 23rd in Kulpsville. Pa., by Strawser Auction Group.
It was the first of three auctions dedicated to the Flower collection. Two more will follow, with dates and times to be determined. The collection in its entirety comprises over 600 pieces in all, by many of the finest names in all of majolica: Minton, George Jones, Holdcroft, Wedgwood, Hugo Lonitz, Palissy, Massier, T.C. Brown Westhead Moore & Co., Copelands and others.
“The August 23rd auction was well attended both in-person and online,” said Michael Strawser of Strawser Auction Group, based in Wolcottville, adding, “Many new buyers and collectors bid, and others participated who we hadn’t heard from in a long time.” The Flowers purchased many of their fine majolica pieces at Strawser sales. Strawser will conduct the Parts 2 and 3 auctions.
The surprise lot of the auction was most certainly the “Art of the Earth” Palissy rustic basin by Charles-Jean Avisseau, dated 1856. The piece blasted through its $2,000-$3,000 estimate to finish at $49,200. Avisseau created a microcosm teeming with life on the surface of the ceramic basin, with shells interspersed alongside a snake, a salamander, and a lizard, each colored with a different ceramic glaze. Avisseau exhibited at the Great Exhibition 1851.
The other piece by Avisseau was also an “Art of the Earth” example, this one a Palissy grotto, circa 1856, polychrome, modeled as a naturalistic forest floor scene depicting a snake, lizard and frog climbing on rocks around a watery hole with lilies, ferns and grasses, a gnarled branch and oak leaves to the rear and a tablet to the front inscribed “Avisseau a tours 1856”. The grotto represented the finest quality of 19th century Palissyware. It gaveled for $22,140.
The rare George Jones majolica “Drum” cabaret set from around 1875, one of only two known complete sets, gaveled for $31,625 to take runner-up top lot honors. The set was all designed as cobalt blue drums, with yellow skin tightening string, the teapot with drumsticks forming the spout, and a military drummer boys’ hat. The circular tray was bound by a leather strap.
Also from George Jones was the only known pair of Tulip & Butterfly candlesticks, circa 1875, each modeled as an upright tulip and large green leaves forming the body, with a blossom forming the candle holders, a butterfly below on a circular earthy ground. These formed part of a dressing table set, all designed around blossoms and butterflies ($25,830).
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include a 23 percent buyer’s premium. Internet bidding was facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com.
A rare and monumental Hugo Lonitz majolica model of a hawk, created around 1875, with glass eyes, perched on a rocky ground with ferns and branches on an entwined branch base, 24 inches in height, changed hands for $49,200. Also, a Minton majolica cobalt teapot, modeled as a flat iron with a frieze of mice to the sides and a large white cat wrapped around the handle looking down at a mouse holding a carrot, 7 ½ inches in height, brought $46,125.
A Minton majolica trinket box, circa 1875, modeled as a bird’s nest, with a single leafage posy holder and a large mother goldfinch looking down on hungry hatchlings, made $13,530. Also, a T.C. Brown – Westhead & Moore majolica Aesthetic Movement vase, circa 1875, designed by Mark V. Marshall, the cobalt blue body designed as swirling clouds with a large dragon wrapped around, the flared neck with orange flame motif, 25 inches tall, hit $12,300.
A Hugo Lonitz majolica “Hoopoe” planter, circa 1875, modeled as an open tree trunk, with turquoise interior, applied leaves, a large Hoopoe to the front all atop a rocky ground with scattered grasses, one of only two known, realized $12,300. Also, a Hippolyte Hautin Boulanger & Cie majolica tea set, circa1880, each piece modeled as an upturned shell applied with vine, comprising a teapot, sugar-bowl, cream-jug, waste bowl and tray, fetched $11,685.
A George Jones majolica oval butterfly’ dressing table tray, circa 1875, an oval shaped tray with a mottled green and brown bark ground profusely decorated with green orchid leaves, white blossoms and a butterfly at each end, rose to $7,380. Also, a Joseph Holdcroft majolica oyster plate, circa 1875, designed as six wells separated by small shell twists radiating from a central well, 10 inches in diameter, easily bested its $400/$600 estimate by selling for $5,227.
A Minton majolica menu holder, circa 1865, modeled as a heron beside a bottle peering down at a fox, a fish between them, based on the classic Aesop’s Fable The Fox and The Heron and the only known majolica example, rang up $5,843. Also, a Minton majolica Aesthetic Movement peacock posy vase, circa 1875, the brightly glazed peacock with openings for posy around the top of the fanned tail, all on a rectangular pedestal base, changed hands for 7,995.
A George Jones majolica butterfly ring stand, circa 1875, modeled as an oval dish of green leaves with a large white blossom to the center and with a butterfly at each end forming handles, on green leaf supports, earned $5,228; while a Minton Majolica 6-well cobalt blue oyster plate, circa 1875, modeled as a circular plate with cobalt blue wells separated by shells and seaweed, the turquoise circular central well surrounded by conch shells, achieved $2,214.
Several pieces in the Flower collection were recently part of a large Majolica Mania Exhibition that was launched in New York City in the fall of 2021, traveled to the Walters Museum in Baltimore in early 2022 and finished at Stoke on Trent in the UK in fall 2022. Only the finest pieces of majolica made their way into the show.
Strawser Auction Group’s next majolica auction will be held in Indiana on Saturday, October 14th, at 9 am. Featured will be the collection of Sue and Harry Thurman and other collections. To learn more about the Strawser Auction Group, please visit www.strawserauctions.com.