The John Scarce Collection of Porcelain

This June, we are excited to be offering the John Scarce collection of ceramics, featuring a variety of 18th and 19th Century porcelain, including Dr Wall, Chinese export porcelain, and an extensive collection of armorial wares.

John Scarce has been Newsletter Editor of the Ceramics and Glass Circle of Australia Inc for over 20 years. An avid collector of English ceramics, he applies his background in family history research to his collection. He has a wealth of knowledge on commissioned crested and armorial ceramics from various English manufacturers.

Armorial wares are ceramic or silver items decorated with a family or institution’s coat of arms or crest. Although they have been used since the Middle Ages; it was during the 18th Century that they were popularised within the upper and middle classes, as an outward symbol of social status. They became even more popular throughout Europe, with the introduction of Chinese export porcelain to the West, being more durable than its Western counterpart. Europe continued to import vast quantities of Chinese porcelain. In fact it has been documented that during the late 17th to the early 20th centuries, Britain had ordered 4000 porcelain armorial services from China. It was not until the European factories were able to improve their porcelain manufacturing processes that local companies such as Worcester began producing extensive armorial wares.

John Scarce’s collection of armorial porcelain includes European and Chinese examples, including Western imitations of Chinese armorial wares. A special piece within his collection is a late 17th Century Chinese armorial soup bowl, being part of a service made for Thomas Saunders, taking us to India and the East India Company headquarters at Fort St George, Madras. Thomas Saunders was appointed Governor of Madras on 19 September 1750; he remained as Governor of Madras until 14 January 1755 when he returned to England.

Other standout pieces include a rare Boucher & Co. porcelain plate featuring the 23rd Wallajahabad light infantry armorial and a pair of Ridgway porcelain plates, decorated with the Westhead & Westhead-Brown coat of arms. Joshua P.Westhead (1807-1877) was a prominent businessman and Weslyian Methodist. He was Director of the London and North Western Railways, and the son of Edward Westhead & Ann Brown. By 1862, the Ridgway factory was known as Brown-Westhead, Moore & Co. Several unique presentation services were made for him as gifts, bearing his coat of arms or crest.  The service was presented to Joshua on 15 June 1847 at the Albion Hotel, Piccadilly, Manchester by the shareholders of the Manchester and Birmingham Railway Company in recognition of his work as Chairman.

The John Scarce Collection of Porcelain will be offered as a single owner component of our 22 June Decorative Arts offering.

Twice a year, we host our seasonal Decorative Arts auction. We are now calling for entries and look forward to uncovering coveted collections.

CHIARA CURCIO / Head of Decorative Arts