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My best ever find?

17th September 2012

I was recently asked “What has been your best ever find”?

As someone who is lucky enough to have bought and sold some fairly spectacular things over the years it was quite a tough question to answer.

However one particular acquisition did stand out…

It was a time when I was pregnant with my daughter, around 6 years ago and I received a telephone call, quite out of the blue, from a chap in the trade who was a fairly generic dealer with an eye to kitchenalia.

“Are you interested in William De Morgan tiles”

Of course the answer was “Yes”

“I have something that might interest you”

We made an appointment and he arrived at my home.

“Do you want to bring the tiles in?” I suggested

“That won’t be so easy” came the reply.

In the back of his van was a huge piece of concrete and embedded into it were 50 Ruby Lustre Tiles, many of which were from the animal series. Essentially some of the scarcest tiles that money can buy.

After much chin rubbing and deliberation, weighing up the cost and risks of removing the tiles from a piece of concrete, versus the opportunity to buy one of the most important collections of tiles to come onto the market in years, a deal was struck.

I reflected, as the dealer and his van drove away, on the wisdom of paying £40,000 for a slab of concrete!

Anyway after being attacked by a circular saw and more conventional and sensitive restorations, the tiles were made market ready and all but one remained intact. They were sold in two parts; firstly to one of the UK’s leading collectors, academics and authors on William De Morgan, and the balance were shipped to New York to an Interior designer creating an Arts and Crafts Home for one of the USA’s millionaires.

However, that said, William De Morgan tiles, which in perfect condition are priced from around £250 for a floral example, can be an affordable way of having historically important and beautiful pieces of art from one of the founding fathers of the Arts and Crafts movement. I have three framed examples above my bath!


Last Updated - 15th July 2018