Wolcottville, IN, USA, July 20, 2023 — The first of three auctions dedicated to the outstanding majolica collection of Ed Flower (1929-2022) and his wife Marilyn (1930-2017) will be held on Wednesday, August 23rd, online and live in the Holiday Inn ballroom at 1750 Sumneytown Pike in Kulpsville, Pa. The auction will begin at 10 am Eastern time.
Two more auctions will follow, with dates to be determined. The initial sale will be held by Strawser Auction Group, based in Wolcottville, Ind. The Flowers purchased many majolica pieces at Strawser sales. The collection in its entirety comprises over six hundred pieces in all, each one carefully chosen for beauty, rarity and condition.
The August 23rd auction will feature 185 lots, by many of the finest names in all of majolica: Minton, George Jones, Holdcroft, Wedgwood, Hugo Lonitz, Palissy, Massier, T. C. Brown – Westhead Moore & Company, Copelands and others. For those unable to attend in person, online bidding will be via LiveAuctioneers.com.
Two of the pieces in the auction lineup could easily take top lot honors. The first is an iconic Minton Majolica cobalt teapot, modeled as a flat iron with a frieze of mice to the sides and a large white cat wrapped around the handle looking down at a mouse holding a carrot to form the handle of the lid, 7 Â½ inches tall. It should hammer for $20,000-$25,000.
The second is a rare and monumental Hugo Lonitz majolica model of a hawk, created around 1875, with glass eyes, perched on a rocky ground with ferns and branches on an entwined branch base, 24 inches in height. The only other known example was sold at Christieâ€™s in New York in 2011; it realized $56,250. The one in the auction has an estimate of $20,000-$25,000.
Lot 1070 is a pair of majolica Renaissance Revival vases, circa 1860, probably exhibited at the London International Exhibition of 1862 and exquisitely painted by Thomas Kirkby after Raphaelâ€™s ceiling frescos in The Stanza Della Signatura, Apostolic Chapel, Vatican, Rome, depicting Theology, Justice, Poetry, and Philosophy, 22 inches tall (est. $15,000-$20,000).
Two lots carry estimates of $12,000-$15,000. One is a George Jones & Sons majolica cobalt-blue and turquoise-ground ‘Sea and Sky’ cheese keeper and stand, circa 1878, cylindrical in shape with conch shell and seaweed knob, the side molded with a continuous sky and underwater view, including seagulls, hermit crab, fish and other aquatic life, 12 Â¼ inches tall.
The other is an exceedingly rare George Jones majolica “Drum” cabaret set, made circa 1875, designed as cobalt blue drums, with yellow skin tightening string, the teapot with drumsticks forming the spout, and a military drummer boyâ€™s hat, the circular tray bound by a leather strap. Only two complete sets are known to exist, making this one very desirable to collectors.
Another lot expected fetch in the five figures is a T.C. Brown – Westhead & Moore majolica Aesthetic Movement vase, circa 1875, designed by Mark V. Marshall, the cobalt blue body designed as swirling clouds with a large dragon wrapped around, the flared neck with orange flame motif all on a circular turquoise blue pierced edge, 25 inches tall (est. $8,000-$12,000).
A circa 1875 Minton majolica monkey garden seat modelled as a sat monkey holding a nut below cobalt blue buttoned cushion with tassels all upon a basket weave base, shape no. 589, 18 inches tall, is expected to reach $6,000-$9,000; while an early Minton Renaissance Revival wine cooler and cover, circa 1858, painted by Thomas Kirkby and designed by Simon Birks, Shape 582, 17 inches tall, one of only three known examples, should also hit $6,000-$9,000.
A rare pair of George Jones tulip and butterfly candlesticks, circa 1875, each one modeled as an upright tulip and large green leaves forming the body, with a blossom forming the candle holders, 9 inches tall, should make $6,000-$9,000. Also, a lovely Delphin Massier majolica jardiniere, circa 1880, designed as a large duck with chicks beside a tree trunk forming the flower holder, on a grassy ground base, 22 Â½ inches tall, has an estimate of $5,000-$8,000.
A magnificent Hippolyte Hautin Boulanger & Cie, (France) floor vase, circa 1880, modeled as brightly glazed pheasants, signed by Louise Carrier Beleuse, Hippolyte Hautin Boulanger’s premier sculptor, 25 inches tall, should make $5,000-$8,000. Also, a rare Wedgwood majolica butter dish and cover, circa 1875, inspired by an Aesop’s Fable, one of only two known and designed as a grey hare riding a mottled green tortoise, has an estimate of $5,000-$8,000.
A T.C. Brown – Westhead, Moore & Co. Egyptian Revival majolica garden seat, circa 1875, modeled as a seated Egyptian female figure supporting a quatrefoil cushion decorated with radiating palmettes, 22 inches tall, should bring $3,000-$5,000; while an impressive pair of R.M. Krause (Schweidnitz, Prussia) majolica vases, circa 1880, the vases designed one with a tiger (#2031) and one with a lion (#2032), 20 Â½ inches tall, has an estimate of $3,000-$4,000.
Another lot worthy of mention is a whimsical Royal Worcester Japanese-style posy vase pair, probably designed by James Hadley, circa 1875, modeled as a tortoise with a monkey on his back, the monkey with a frog on his shoulders, 9 inches tall. It should sell for $2,000-$3,000.
Several pieces in the Flower collection were recently part of a large Majolica Mania Exhibition that was launched in New York City in the fall of 2021, traveled to the Walters Museum in Baltimore in early 2022 and finished at Stoke on Trent in the UK in fall 2022. Only the finest pieces of majolica made their way into the show.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Flower collection is the fact that the couple didnâ€™t begin collecting majolica until much later in life â€“ Ed at about age 60. Prior to that, Ed collected other things: coins, stamps and books as a youth, then later on American Impressionist oil paintings, early 20th century American prints and netsuke.
After Ed retired, in the early 2000s, the couple attended nearly every majolica auction held by Strawser Auction Group. And it was a certainty that their hands would go up several times at each auction. The couple simply refused to be outbid when they spotted a piece they had to have. They could also be found at every majolica convention â€“ usually a bi-annual event. Also, Ed served for a time on the Board of Directors of the prestigious Majolica International Society.
To learn more about the Strawser Auction Group and the first of three auctions dedicated to the outstanding majolica collection of Ed Flower (1929-2022) and his wife Marilyn (1930-2017) slated for Wednesday, August 23rd, please visit www.strawserauctions.com.