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story.lead_photo.caption This is a wonderful rarity with significant value. (TNS Handout)

DEAR HELAINE AND JOE: This vase came from my husband's great aunt and is about 12 inches tall. It was originally in her home near Detroit. We really do not know much about it. Any information would be appreciated.

— D.C.

DEAR D.C.: Some questions appear to be easy at first glance. In this case, we knew who made the piece instantly upon seeing a picture of the vase. The picture of the signature only confirmed our conclusion. But then we began our research and things became a bit less clear.

The green sprawl across the bottom is the signature of English potter William Moorcroft (1872-1945), who was an art school graduate and son of a professional china painter. In 1897, Moorcroft went to work as a designer for the James Macintyre and Company pottery in Burslem, Staffordshire.

Within a year, Moorcroft was heading Macintyre's art pottery studio and developing lines in the art nouveau taste that were often decorated with specially colored glazes and raised slip (liquid clay piped through a tube) designs. Moorcroft developed his famous "Florian" line, which was entirely hand-decorated. His work won a gold medal at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (aka the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair).

Much of Moorcroft's work at Macintyre's was sold in London at the famous department store Liberty & Co., and in New York at Tiffany's. Moorcroft's work was soon overshadowing the other products of Macintyre and Co., and his art pottery studio at that company was closed in 1912.

With financial backing from Liberty & Co., Moorcroft established his own art pottery at Cobridge in 1913 with many of the workers former Macintyre employees. Moorcroft's son Walter took over the Moorcroft pottery when William Moorcroft died in 1945. The company is still in business in its original location.

Around the turn of the 20th century, Moorcroft developed a line of pottery called "Hazeldene," which generally featured slip outlined trees in a landscape rendered in various shades of blue and green against a cream background. There can be variations in this color scheme (including some done in shades of red), but the vase in today's question is a typically colored example. And at 12 inches tall and 4 inches across the base is a large and highly desirable piece.

Some pieces of Moorcroft's Hazeldene were dated, and some had a "Made for Liberty & Co." stamp on the bottom, but D.C.'s piece appears to be lacking both marks. The signature is "W. Moorcroft des." We believe the "des" stands for "designer" or "dessinateur," and the "Rd No 3979664" is the English registration number or patent for the design itself.

We believe the vase is circa 1905 and at auction would sell in the $3,500 to $4,500 range. Its insurance replacement value would be in the $6,000 range.

Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques. Do you have an item you'd like to know more about? Contact them at Joe Rosson, 2504 Seymour Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917, or email them at [email protected] If you'd like your question to be considered for their column, please include a focused, high-resolution photo of the subject with your inquiry.

HomeStyle on 02/08/2020

Print Headline: Treasure hunt

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