A few months ago, I published a post about some exciting new Italian ceramics by the mysterious ‘Flower Painter’ that I had found. You can read the post by clicking here. As they sadly didn’t reveal the identity of the designer or factory, but just tantalised with more clues, I set the challenge of finding out more. A number of you very kindly got back to me with different names found on similar ceramics in your collections. These included ‘Milvia’ and ‘Simo’, the latter found by George from Virginia, USA on a vase. I’m usually very suspicious about names signed in the image on Italian ceramics, mainly as they were usually simply put there to add value, making the vase look ‘artist-signed’. The most notable examples of this were made in San Marino. Although I can’t find anything more out about Simo (yet?), Milvia ‘has legs’. A little light research shows that the name also appears on a range of tea towels produced in 1973 for a homewares company called Zucchi …

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One of the great pleasures in life is browsing a secondhand bookshop. That joy of coming across a book that you didn’t even know existed, and that raises a smile or piques an interest can’t be matched. The experience can’t be replicated with eBooks either. One of my favourite places to browse is Judd Books, on Marchmont St in Bloomsbury, London, as it is always packed-to the gunnels with fascinating titles new and old. Last time I was there I picked up a copy of Tanya Harrod’s landmark book on 20thC crafts in Britain, and this time I found a curious little book from 1948 called Homes Sweet Homes by Osbert Lancaster. Apart from the jaunty cover, anything written by someone called Osbert has got to be read, hasn’t it? First published by John Murray in 1939, it covers 34 different styles of interior design throughout history, from Norman to Functional via Tudor, Early Victorian, Greenery Yallery, Edwardian, and Cultured Cottage. Each style is detailed with a few humourous, often acerbic, paragraphs of text and a simple …

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Death, Hype & Collapse?

When an artist or designer dies, or a factory or studio closes, it causes ripples to go through the collecting world and the fairs, shops and auctions of the ‘secondary market’. A form of hysteria often sets in, causing prices to rise rapidly before, as often happens, they crash back down again.It can take some years before these circumstances happen, as with the Whitefriars market which peaked some 20-25 years after the factory closed in 1980. But the effects are usually felt immediately, and the cycle seems to be getting faster and faster. Some have seen these events as investment opportunities – but what do you buy to fare the best? The subject almost doesn’t matter, so I’ll use the most recent time I’ve experienced this.

In January 2013, Isle of Wight Studio Glass closed in the year of its 40th anniversary, having been founded in 1973. Presumably the struggle to balance the rising cost of keeping the furnaces burning all year round against the average spend of tourists and competition from cheaper and poorer quality …

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