If you’re not familiar with the Martin Brothers of London & Southall, you should be. They produced the zaniest, most whimsical stoneware that one could imagine. What’s amazing is that they did it over 100 years ago. Many Martin Brothers objects look like they could have been made yesterday.
It’s hard to be neutral about Martin Bros. ceramics — either you love it or you hate it. In case you couldn’t figure it out (of course you could), I fall into the “I LOVE IT!” category. I look at a wonderful piece and smile. I love all the categories of items I sell, but Martin Brothers has to be my favorite. There are quite a few important collectors who agree and have put their money where their mouths are — I’m talking about very serious and valuable collections.
Early Martin Bros. ceramics from the 1870s and 1880s was for lack of a better word “ordinary”. They produced vases with simple and realistic flowers or geometric decorations. At some point in the 1890s, they started to produce “grotesque” objects with sea creatures or monsters, or wildly imaginative birds. The more grotesque, the better. Today, the most famous and highly sought after pieces are the bird tobacco jars, with removable heads. Each bird is an individual, with no two identical, as they were not made in molds. The more personality, the better the bird.
Save up your pennies, because Martin Bros. does not come cheap. A decent bird tobacco jar starts at $15,000 and goes up quickly from there, depending on the personality, glaze, size and condition.
Please send me your suggestions or questions about art glass, lamps, Louis Icart, shows, auctions, etc. If it’s interesting, I’ll answer your question in a future blog entry.
Call or write and let me know what you would like to buy, sell, or trade. philchasen@gmail or 516-922-2090. And please visit my website. chasenantiques.com