Art Deco Period

Collecting Clarice Cliff

Art Deco Period

 When collectors ask me what their treasured pieces are worth, I still find myself saying: "I have no idea." Studying and researching her work has not made me any wiser about values,

Collectors have voted with their precious bank balances and put her on an Art Deco plinth far above her contemporaries. It's not necessary to reiterate the growth of the Clarice Cliff market from 1990S on wards, but suffice to say that the incredible interest is not surprising.

The appeal is simple - primary colors, brashly painted onto imaginative shapes that defy description. From the outrageously vivid Summerhouse to the sophisticated Apples, to the safe and 'everyday' Crocus design, Clarice created a pattern for everyone.

Clarice collecting is the most internationally based form of ceramic collecting in the world because her wares were efficiently distributed to all corners of the Empire by Colley Shorter. Ace salesman at Wilkinson's and Newport Pottery, Colley was her 'muse', lover and later her husband. Together, they left behind what I have called 'ceramic time bombs'.

Art Deco Period
Collectors and dealers find it hard to part with their pieces. As a result, the market goes up and there is more competition for the good pieces that do come out. So, despite prices being the highest ever, collectors' confidence in Clarice Cliff is so strong that they do not sell.

It is still possible to collect, even on a budget. If you view auctions carefully, or befriend the major dealers, they will do their best to look after you. It is a competitive market, and they want you to buy regularly, not just once. What do you buy? Well, the much- quoted rule is buy what you like. But as anything in Applique, Red Autumn or Carpet is liable to cost you a fortune, a different buying strategy is necessary.

Clarice issued some patterns for several years, and these are found in larger quantities, on a bigger variety of shapes. Because they are seen regularly at auction, many collectors already have their examples so they may be a little more affordable.

Art Deco Period
Yet they are pure, potent pieces of her art. The ones I think worth checking carefully include Melon, Trees and House, Windbells, Secrets, Farmhouse, and Rhodanthe. Plates and the more available vases in these should be a good way to get the color and style without paying a fortune.

 The small Melon plate shown might be as little as £250-£350 if you buy well, and the Melon vase was a bargain from Christie's at £900 less than two years ago. At the last Christie's sale a good Secrets plate was £411, and a Trees and House plate was just £376, so there are bargains   at London auctions. If you research designs and shapes that are not at their peak at present, you can buy well.

One area where collectors can get bargains is Fancies: they are often small and some dealers under-estimate their value. The Advertising Plaque is less than 3 inches high and might be found for as little as £200-£300 but a collector would rate it a great deal higher. Amusing Fancies such as the Elephant napkin ring might be purchased reasonably, adding personality to any collection.

 Collectibles Coach

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