Sample Antique Appraisal: Yellow Buff Wedgwood “Dancing Hours” Bowl

This item was featured on Grant Miller Appraisals’ Facebook page for a contest challenging readers to estimate its value, with the winner receiving a free fair market value appraisal from Grant Miller Appraisals. The following is an appraisal report I conducted for a client in 2010 in Tampa, Florida.

Also included is the realized price as this item was sold at auction soon after the report was completed. This information is provided with the client’s full authorization and all personal information has been removed.

Property Description

A yellow buff with black bas-relief Wedgwood jasperware bowl featuring the “Dancing Hours” design around the perimeter.

Measurements

The bowl is 10.5 inches in diameter and 5 inches high. It weighs between one and two pounds.

Markings

The bowl is stamped separately “Wedgwood” and “Made in England” on the bottom.

Condition

There is a half-inch chip to the white porcelain on the bowl’s rim. The interior of the bowl is stained with a lavender or light burgundy color. The exterior shows considerable dust and grime that may clean off. Bas-relief appears completely intact and there are no chips on the yellow buff.

Provenance

The client stated the bowl originally belonged to her grandmother and had been in her family for several decades. The client did not know what her family paid for the piece and was unsure of its value. Since the piece is marked “Wedgwood,” the client believes it may have some value but was unsure if its condition would limit interest from collectors. An antique dealer offered her $100 for the piece in 2005.

Conclusions and valuations

Most people associate Wedgwood decorative pottery or dinnerware with its traditional light blue color with white relief, but true collectors know Wedgwood has produced hundreds of colors and relief patterns in its 250-year history. Often these unique colors are highly sought by collectors, keeping Wedgwood extremely active on the secondary market.

This particular item has many things going for it – its design, its age and its colors.

To start, the bowl features Wedgwood’s “Dancing Hours” design which is almost as iconic as Wedgwood’s traditional light blue. The design dates from the 1700s and was developed by noted draftsman, John Flaxman, widely considered the company’s first great artist. Collectors often seek out “Dancing Hours” pieces far ahead  of any other Wedgwood design and this large piece really displays each character extremely well.

The fact the “Dancing Hours” characters are in black bas-relief only adds to the piece’s intrigue. Most Wedgwood pieces feature some kind of relief design, typically in white. The black bas-relief here is unique but not totally unheard of, but the combination of the popular “Dancing Hours”design and the unique black bas-relief would surely draw significant interest from collectors. The choice in colors is particularly striking, adding to the piece’s value.

The age of this piece also is significant – since the marks “Wedgwood” and “Made in England” are separated, it is without a doubt a modern piece – manufactured somewhere between 1908 and 1970. But this particular color, relief and design was only produced between 1927 and 1930 – making it rare not just for its color scheme and design but also its limited production. The yellow buff with black bas-relief alone makes it unique, but the fact it was only produced for about three years makes it and other pieces like it difficult to find. Based on its condition and comparable sales, it is my opinion this item has a fair market value between $900 and $1,200 today.

Price realized at auction in August 2010: $1,105!

Historical Analysis

The Wedgwood company was founded in 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood in what is now Stoke-on-Trent, England. Over its long history, the company developed new methods for creating pottery, setting it apart from its competitors. Jasperware, Caneware and basaltware are unique to Wedgwood, instantly identifiable and often imitated with limited success. Wedgwood pieces often feature designs lifted from Roman, Greek and Egyptian mythology.

The company has faced financial problems in recent years and has undergone a series of new owners and mergers. For this, many collectors believe the finest Wedgwood pieces date before 1970.