Where's Wally

01/10/15

A Wally bird is thought to have been used as a tobacco jar which is styled in the form of a grotesque bird. They were produced by the Martin Brothers who were famous for their Gothic revival Martinware pottery, and were produced between 1873-1923 in Fulham and Southall. The Gothic revival being an 18th Century architectural style modeled on Middle Ages Architecture.

The Martin Brother’s were founded by the eldest brother Robert Wallace Martin (1843-1923), who had trained in sculpture at the Lambeth School of Art and later the Royal Academy of Art. They became famous for these gloriously bizarre Wally birds and their wheel-thrown and sculpted face jugs.

Martinware is a type of salt-glazed stoneware where a glossy, translucent glaze with a slight orange-peel texture was formed during the high temperature firing process by throwing ordinary salt into the kiln. The sodium in the salt would then react with the silica in the clay body forming its glassy coating. This glaze could be colourless or commonly coloured brown, blue or purple.

405-131015

A 20th Century "Grotesque" pottery bird with detachable cover, 9ins high (indecipherable impressed mark to base) - Lot 405 in our upcoming 13th/14th October Auction.

As with many artists although the brother’s stoneware was popular (Queen Victoria was allegedly a client!) it did not make them wealthy and their factory closed during the Great Depression. However, in recent years it has undergone a revival with exemplary examples of these birds making vast sums of money – with a typical 24cm bird achieving £10,000-£20,000 in perfect condition.

401-131015

An early 20th Century Martinware stoneware double sided "Face" jug, one side with a laughing face, the other with a leering face, the eyes, handle and neck glazed, the remaining body unglazed, 7.5ins high (incised "1901 R.W. Martin Bros, London") - Lot 401 in our upcoming 13th/14th October auction.

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