Over the last two decades there has been a positive surge in all categories of collecting, with new areas and specialist sales appearing every year. One of the biggest growth areas has been in Art Nouveau and Art Deco pottery and porcelain.
Many factors have contributed to this onslaught of change. For instance, no longer are ceramic collectables secretly hidden away in dusty cabinets, they are now being incorporated into the interior design of lounges and other rooms in the home. Collectors of Art Nouveau and Art Deco pottery and porcelain once had to hunt through antiques shops and auction sales packed with many other collecting fields to find what they were looking for. Today there are specialist fairs, shops and auctions which cater exclusively to Art Nouveau and Art Deco collectors. In fact, there is now an Art Deco fair somewhere in Britain every week and there are auctions entirely devoted to Clarice Cliff pottery, Moorcroft pottery, Carlton Ware and Studio pottery.
Another reason for the dramatic growth in the popularity of pottery and porcelain is the rising number of publications that provide interested readers with valuable information and visual references. It can be difficult understanding pottery and porcelain if you cannot see the entire range produced - for instance, to an untrained eye a Clarice Cliff 5in (12.5cm) high conical sugar sifter (which can be worth as much as £5,000) hardly looks interesting when in a cabinet full of Doulton stoneware, but when seen reproduced in a book with twenty other sifters, all with different patterns to compare it to, its appeal can be appreciated.
Shrewd collectors now try to predict the next popular theme and stock-pile items in the hope there will be an exhibition or a book published on the subject which will help push up the price, as was recently experienced with Troika and Poole Pottery.
Most Art Nouveau and Art Deco items collected in the UK are ceramic, unlike in France where they are glass (such as Lalique and Galle). If you visit a British Art Nouveau and Art Deco fair, 70% of the items for sale will be ceramic and there always seems to be a 'newly discovered' factory to learn about. Some of the up and coming factories include Royal Winton, Troika, 1960s and 1970s Poole Pottery, Burleigh Ware and Rye Pottery.
Why are more people than ever investing in Art Nouveau and Art Deco ceramics? Perhaps this is a result of the currently low Building Society rates and the uncertainty of shares. When one considers how long a Building Society investment of £100 would take to double, one can appreciate why so many people are turning to alternative investments.
Examples of good buys can be identified in retrospect by looking through old auction catalogues. For instance, Clarice Cliff plates worth £600 today made £80 ten years ago. Not everything you buy will be a bargain, but if you do purchase an object you like you also have something to view an enjoy, and not just a bank statement or share certificate.
Most collectors find their bad buys more than compensated for by their good ones and as one learns more about a subject so the good buys increase. The secret is to amass as much information as possible about a chosen category, using books, exhibitions, booklets, websites and old auction catalogues, as well as visiting as many museums, collections, antique fairs and auctions as possible.
Do not be afraid to talk to dealers or auctioneers about a particular field as it is in their interest to encourage new disciples to the fold. As this is one of the fastest changing and most exciting art markets, there is always something new to be learnt.
Finally, take the plunge and experience how infectious collecting can be once you start. (Bidtubuy)