A Staffordshire slipware dish by William Talor, circa 1680-85
Lot 12
A Staffordshire slipware dish by William Talor, circa 1680-85
Sold for £ 51,650 (US$ 68,628) inc. premium

Lot Details
A Staffordshire slipware dish by William Talor, circa 1680-85 A Staffordshire slipware dish by William Talor, circa 1680-85
A Staffordshire slipware dish by William Talor, circa 1680-85
The pale-ochre ground decorated in light-brown slip, outlined in dark-brown with cream dot-ornament depicting King Charles II in the Royal Oak tree, the head of the king within the leafy branches, flanked by a lion and unicorn, the trellis border in light and dark brown slip inscribed with the potter's name WILLIAM TALOR, 48.8cm diam (cracked)


  • Provenance: Frank Falkner Collection and by descent to the present owner

    Frank Falkner was a pioneering collector of British ceramics. Early in the 20th century he assembled an extensive collection that went against the fashions of the time, for Frank was attracted by the primitive charm of early Staffordshire productions. His pioneering book on the Wood Family of Burslem helped establish a thriving market for the early pottery figures that had previously been neglected. When Frank Falkner died in 1930 a simple catalogue was published by George Falkner as a tribute. George initially kept the collection together and it was finally sold a generation later in a memorable Sotheby's sale in 1956.

    The family chose to keep a small number of the best slipware dishes, which they displayed as Frank had done on the walls of their North London home. Nearly a century has passed, therefore, since these dishes have been on the market. During this time they have remained untouched, with their old damage still visible and not concealed by modern restoration.

    Little is known about the life of William Talor. Burslem parish records include a baptism entry for August 1624 of a William Taylor, the son of a man of the same name. The Wolstanton, Staffordshire register also has a baptism entry for December 1632 for William, the son of Richard and John Taylor. The unindexed Stoke records list the baptism of a third William on 29 September 1639, the son of a George and Sarah Taylor.

    Two other dishes of this type by William Talor are recorded with a similar diamond motif at the King's chest, one from the Glaisher collection bequeathed in 1928 to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, object Number C.216-1928, the other in the Royal Scottish Museum collection illustrated by Cooper, Slipware (1968), pl.89. A third dish by Talor, the diamond motif substituted for a leafy stem, is in the Chipstone Foundation collection, Wisconsin, sold in these rooms, Phillips, London on 11 June 1986, lot 123. A fourth dish more closely resembling Chipstone's includes an unusual spelling of the potter's name 'WIALLIAM:TALOR' and is illustrated by Peter Walton, Creamware and Other English Pottery at Temple Newsam House Leeds (1976), no.6.

    Ronald Cooper writes that four dishes of this subject are known produced by Thomas Toft, see Slipware Dishes (1968), p.50. One with the central oak tree flanked by the royal cipher CR is in the collection of the Manchester City Galleries, bequeathed by Thomas Tylston Greg in 1923, acc. no. 1923.171. A further example with the royal cipher is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acquired in 1924, acc no. 24.241.2. A third dish, without the royal cipher from the Charles J Lomax collection was donated to the British Museum in 1935, registration number: 1935,0716.1.CR

    The subject relates to the battle of Worcester which began on 3 September 1651, classed as the final battle of the English Civil War. The 16,000 Royalist forces were overwhelmed by the 28,000 strong 'New Model Army' of Cromwell. Following his catastrophic defeat, King Charles sought refuge at Boscobel House, Shropshire. There he met Major Careless who suggested that the house was unsafe, recommending that the King hide in a large pollarded oak tree in the grounds. The exhausted king slept in the tree for some time, being prevented from falling by Careless' support. Charles related this episode to Samuel Pepys who mentions it in his diary for 1680:

    '...he knew but one way how to pass the next day, and that was, to get up into a great oak, in a pretty plain place where we might see round about us, for the enemy would certainly search at the wood for people that had made their escape. We went, and carried up with us some victuals for the whole day, viz., bread, cheese, small beer and nothing else, and got up into a great oak that had been lopped three or four years before, and being grown out again, very bushy and thick, could not be seen through and here we staid all day'
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  1. Fergus Gambon
    Specialist - British Ceramics
    Montpelier Street
    London, United Kingdom SW7 1HH
    Work +44 20 7468 8245
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 8252
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