As an auctioneer, one has to learn to travel everywhere with hope and expectation and not to carry preconceived ideas with you. Sometimes that is a difficult trick to pull off and so when I received a call to look at the collection of Torquay Pottery collected by Roy Paine, I imagined I’d be seeing a room full of ‘kiss me quick’ seaside souvenirs – not that I have anything against pottery produced for day trippers and holiday makers - it’s just not the stuff to set one's heart racing.
A Longpark Torquay Pottery grotesque ewer (FS24/460).
Well, when I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. Whilst being vaguely aware the output from Watcombe, Aller Vale, Longpark and others was varied, I had no idea how extensive their repertoire actually was. The collection includes what might be termed ‘high art’ pieces, grotesques, character jugs, some of the finest art pottery and even pieces designed by Christopher Dresser, Blanche Vulliamy and others.
A more typical Aller Vale Torquay pottery jug in the rare U3 pattern (FS24/498).
The descriptive term ‘a lifetimes collection’ is one that is often over used, but the Torquay pottery, particularly that from Aller Vale, Watcombe and Longpark, that Roy managed accumulate over a thirty-six year period could genuinely boast to being a lifetime collection.
A Watcombe Torquay Pottery teapot after a design by Christopher Dresser (FS24/491).
Ill health has meant that he has now decided it is time to disperse his collection, a decision he didn’t take lightly, but one he hopes will allow other collectors to acquire pieces that took him decades to find.
He kept a catalogue from 1976, when he acquired his first piece of ‘motto ware,’ and since then 1249 pieces have passed through his hands, each meticulous hand written entry stating when, where and from whom he purchased the piece, along with the asking price and what he actually paid, often along with personal comments about the piece.
High Art - Watcombe Torquay Pottery flask with Venetian scene (FS24/479).
Although not a founder member of the Torquay Pottery Collectors Society which formed the same year he acquired his first piece, he and his wife Gloria were both early members and avid collectors. After her death in 1995, his passion for rare pieces increased as did his attendance at the Society’s annual auction.
An Aller Vale Torquay Pottery armadillo ewer - Roy's Holy Grail (FS24/470).
His entry for Lot 470 which he acquired on 18th September 2004 is annotated ‘At last! Waited a long time, but worth it’! Part One of the Roy Paine Collection will be offered on Wednesday, 29th October 2014 as part of the pottery auction within our Autumn 2014 Fine Sale and if the bidders and collectors who attend the auction at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood in Exeter feel anywhere near as enthusiastic about their purchases, Roy would be happy that they have gone to good homes.