The Beautiful World of Moorcroft Pottery
Since William Moorcroft launched his business in 1897, the Moorcroft name has been synonymous with exquisite pottery featuring landscapes, birds, butterflies, geometric designs, and much-loved floral motifs. Perpetually prized at auction, Moorcroft vases remain as enduring popular today as they were more than a century ago.
The Origins of Moorcroft Pottery
Trained at the Royal College of Art in London, William Moorcroft launched his namesake designs in 1897 whilst employed at James Macintyre & Co. With distinctive patterns and exceptional quality, the handmade pieces were a hit from the outset – purchased by esteemed retailers including Liberty of London, Harrods and Tiffany & Co.
Liberty strongly supported Moorcroft, providing funding for him to open his premises in Sandbach Road in 1913. Moorcroft pottery is still produced in the same location, with the factory, a museum and shop now forming the Moorcroft Heritage Centre.
Moorcroft was awarded highly for his pottery, and in 1928 was appointed ‘Potters to H. M. The Queen’. Pieces continued to be added to the Royal Collection, and acquired by high profile collectors – including actors, politicians and business leaders – around the globe.
Pictured: A William Moorcroft for Liberty & Co Hazleden Vase, c.1903-13
Designs for Generations
William’s son, Walter Moorcroft, took the reins of the company in 1945, further developing the brand’s unique style. It was Walter who expanded the designs to include exotic flowers, and after WWII, the bold and vibrant colours that still draw admirers today.
In 1986, Sally Tuffin became the chief Moorcroft designer, expanding the oeuvre – with the aid of Phillip Richardson – to include animals, birds and geometric patterns.
Rachel Bishop, a leading ceramic artist, was the company’s sole designer from 1993 until 1997, building on the work of her predecessors to further enhance the Moorcroft name.
In an innovative step, the company launched the Moorcroft Design Studio in 1997, which operates with five world-class ceramic artists ensuring that Moorcroft pottery remains the perfect blend of traditional expertise and timeless design.
Pictured: A William Moorcroft Fruits & Berries Lidded Jar
Moorcroft Pottery at Auction
Moorcroft pottery remains highly prized by collectors, achieving some astounding results at auction.
In 2010, The Richard Wright Collection of Moorcroft Pottery sold at auction in London for £348,000. The standout was a rare 1913 exhibition plague in Moorcroft’s pomegranate design, that reached £19,200 inc. premium.
In 2020, a UK collector paid £15,400 for a rare William Moorcroft silver overlaid ‘Pomegranate’ pattern tea set. While in Australia, an unusual fish pattern bowl sold in July this year for $11,352.
Pictured: William Moorcroft ‘Pomegranate’ Exhibition Display Plaque, circa 1913
The Rare & Collectable
Casi Prischl, Theodore Bruce Head of Auctions, explains that while Moorcroft is always collectable, certain examples are particularly coveted.
“The earliest pottery is always in demand. The Moorcroft for Liberty & Co pieces are classic, and always very popular, as are the poppy designs, which are part of the Florian range.”
Produced in the early 20th century, it was the Florian design that helped launched the Moorcroft name, featuring delicate blooms including poppies, irises and tulips, produced with a raised slip technique that accentuated the design and colours.
For local collectors, the Waratah design – featuring the waratah flower – is often of interest, introduced in the early 1930s and designed for export to Australia. While Hazeldene Moorcroft pottery is another highlight. Produced in the 1920s and created for the Liberty department store, the organic designs featured stylized trees in soft greens and blues.
Other popular ranges include the Moonlit Blue Moorcroft, first produced in the 1910’s in a brilliant azure blue, and the Eventide pattern, introduced shortly afterwards, and distinct for the rich autumn hues of browns, reds and oranges.
Pictured: A Pair of William Moorcroft Florian Ware Daisy Twin Handle Vases, c.1902
Moorcroft at Auction
Theodore Bruce is delighted to bring some stunning Moorcroft pieces to auction soon as part of a wonderful collection from an antique dealer. The vases and jar pictured here will be among the selection.
The Private Collection & Stock in Trade of an Antiques Dealer
To be offered over two auctions November 2023
Details & Catalogue online soon
To stay informed, please keep an eye on our Upcoming Auctions page, or join our mailing list via the link below.
Pictured: A William Moorcroft for Liberty & Co Claremont Toadstool Vase, c.1903