An important Staffordshire slipware dish by Thomas Toft, circa 1670-90

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 13
An important Staffordshire slipware dish by Thomas Toft, circa 1670-90

Sold for £ 86,500 (US$ 108,065) inc. premium
An important Staffordshire slipware dish by Thomas Toft, circa 1670-90
Decorated with light brown slip outlined in darker slip on a honey-coloured glazed background, the centre with the arms of the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers, the central shield with three goats heads around a chevron, floral scroll mantling at the sides and a neatly trailed trellis border, a panel at the base inscribed THOMAS TOFT, about 42.5cm diam (minor chips and wear only)


  • Provenance: The Cyril Andrade Collection, sold by Puttick and Simpson, 23 Oct 1925.
    The Frank Falkner Collection, purchased at the above sale, and thence by decent to the present owner

    Exhibited: The Pottery of Thomas Toft exhibition catalogue, Leeds and Birmingham, 1952, cat. 21

    Illustrated in The Antiquarian, December 1929 and mentioned by Ronald Cooper in his paper Thomas Toft and associated slipware potters, English Ceramic Circle Transactions Vol.6, pt. 1 (1965), p.44. An illustration of this dish is reproduced by Cooper, English Slipware Dishes 1650-1850 (1968), fig.172.

    The collector Charles J. Lomax wrote of this dish: 'To anyone but a member of the Guild, such a piece would be of little interest, and, as it is unlikely that Toft would copy the arms of this or any other company for the purpose of obtaining decorative effect alone, the probability is, that he made the dish to the order either of the Company, or, that of some Guild-brother.' (Cooper (1968) p.58).

    This is the only recorded example of a slipware dish bearing the arms of a London livery company, although the London companies were important patrons of delftware manufacturers. There are at least four known pieces of dated delftware decorated with the arms of the Cordwainers company. A splendid London delftware jug dated 1673 painted in blue with the arms of the Cordwainers Company was sold in these rooms, Phillips, 3 December 1975, lot 122 and this was subsequently in the Simon Sainsbury collection, lot 130. It is illustrated by Louis L. Lipski and Michael Archer, Dated English Delftware (1984), p.221, no.977. The armorial on this example is surmounted with an Orb.

    A delftware cylindrical tankard dated 1687 decorated with the company arms and the initials B E*M, is in the Shelburne Museum, Vermont and is illustrated by Lipski and Archer (1984), p.176, no.794. This armorial as with the present lot incorporates a shell motif in place of a crest. An important delftware punchbowl dated 1723 also decorated with the arms, formerly in the Longridge Collection, is included as lot 30 in this present sale.

    The Cordwainers were luxury leather workers, especially makers of shoes and gloves. The name comes from the Spanish city of Cordoba where fine leather was produced. The choice of goats' heads for the company arms is probably related to the fact that goat skin was among the softer leathers used in glove making. The earliest written proof of the Ordinance of the Company was made in 1272, in the reign of Henry III. In 1439, during the reign of Henry VI, the Company obtained the Royal Charter. The armorial, formally granted on 25 June 1579, shows 'three goats heads erased argent horned and bearded or'. This was used with the motto Corio et Arte (Leather and Art).

    Frank Falkner was a pioneering collector of British ceramics, especially the primitive products of early Staffordshire. His book on the Wood Family of Burslem concentrated on the history of the family as much as on the Ralph Wood figures that were commanding high prices in the earlier 20th century. When Frank Falkner died in 1930 a simple catalogue of his pottery collection was published by George Falkner as a tribute. George initially kept the collection together and it was finally sold a generation later in a sale at Sotheby's in 1956. At that time the family chose to keep a small number of the best slipware dishes.

    Thomas Toft is the best-known of the slipware potters of North Staffordshire and while many of his dishes survive in museum collections, examples very rarely come onto the market. This masterpiece by Thomas Toft, which remains in its original condition, has not been on the market since 1925. Cyril Andrade (1882-1973) was an art dealer and collector who donated important ceramics to the Ashmolean Museum. A significant part of his collection was sold by Puttick and Simpson on 23 October 1925. Puttick and Simpson were auctioneers known for their ceramics sales who through amalgamation became part of Phillips and Bonhams.
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories, buyer's premium excluding Cars, Motorbikes, Wine, Whisky and Coin & Medal sales, will be as follows:

Buyer's Premium Rates
27.5% on the first £20,000 of the hammer price;
26% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £20,000 up to and including £700,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £700,000 up to and including £4,500,000;
and 14.5% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of £4,500,000.

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

For payment information please refer to the sale catalogue.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.