On offer is a sublime and very rare centre piece made by Minton between 1862 and 1870, which was the Victorian era. The piece is made in the Sèvres style and decorated in a mazarine or cobalt blue ground with rich and very fine gilding. The piece is probably a potpourri. This piece would make a fabulous display on your Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas table!


Minton was one of the pioneers of English china production alongside other great potters such as Spode, Davenport, Ridgway, Coalport and others. They were located in Staffordshire and were known specifically for their wonderfully fine white bone china and bright colours; there is a colour called "Minton Blue" which is a fresh azure blue that was very fashionable during the Victorian era. Throughout the different phases of its existence, the factory made top quality creamware, porcelain, majolica and ultimately the finest parian porcelain. Minton excelled in their decorations and gilt work; these were often executed by artists who came from the Sèvres factory in France and brought their skills with them.


This large centre piece has a perforated cover and therefore might well be a potpourri, used to refresh rooms with fragrant and perfumed dried flowers and fruits. It consists of three pieces: the base, the actual comport that can hold a liberal amount of food such as a large piece of game, and the cover. That being so, these pieces are more known for their decorative value and make a stunning display at the centre of a table setting.


This piece is not documented and no pictures are known of it other than one I have heard about in the grapevine but never seen myself: an image in a collection of images of the designs made by Minton for Thomas Goode, the famous retailer in London.


The relationship between Minton and Thomas Goode was a long and fruitful one. Goode, who was a close friend of Herbert Minton, commissioned a series of Victorian ornamental pieces in imitation of the late 18th Century Sèvres pieces that Goode had in his own collection. Minton did not just copy the Sèvres pieces, but created entirely new ones using the old 18th Century designs, hereby moving decidedly away from the English Rococo style, which had become increasingly strange and a little tired over the years. Minton, who had taken on Léon Arnoux, previously a painter at Sèvres, as Art Director. Arnoux was able to revive the design of ornamental wares in English soft paste porcelain to a completely new standard, gaining Minton many prizes at the international exhibitions of the day.


This particular piece is a close relative of the famous "Queens Vase", which was a copy of an 18th Century Sèvres model that one can see today at the Royal Collection. However, this design is unique; it shares the base and character with the Queens Vase but has a different top.


Made of heavy bone china (which in itself is an amazing feat as bone china does not lend itself well to a huge piece like this) it has a brilliantly deep mazarine or cobalt blue ground and rich and very fine gilding. The shape of the item is very diverse in its detail: fluted, pierced and latticed, and jewelled and ribboned in various ways. The gilding is not just very rich, it is also very finely engraved. On the inside of the cover is a little surprise: a brilliant gilt sun with trembling rays.


The item is marked with the engraved (rather than impressed) round crowned Minton mark that was used between 1850 and 1870. The likeliness with the Queens Vase suggests that this piece is from  between 1862 and 1870.


CONDITION REPORT The piece is in almost perfect condition without any damage or wear. There is one area of slight discolouration on the inside of the bowl, and some superficial crazing can be seen on the underside of the foot; please study the pictures carefully.


Antique British porcelain is never perfect. Kilns were fired on coal in the 1800s, and this meant that china from that period can have some firing specks from flying particles. British makers were also known for their experimentation, and sometimes this resulted in technically imperfect results. Due to the shrinkage in the kiln, items can have small firing lines or develop crazing over time, which should not be seen as damage but as an imperfection of the maker's recipes, probably unknown at the time of making. Items have often been used for many years and can have normal signs of wear, and gilt can have signs of slight disintegration even if never handled. I will reflect any damage, repairs, obvious stress marks, crazing or heavy wear in the item description but some minor scratches, nicks, stains and gilt disintegration can be normal for vintage items and need to be taken into account.


There is widespread confusion on the internet about the difference between chips and nicks, or hairlines and cracks. I will reflect any damage as truthfully as I can, i.e. a nick is a tiny bit of damage smaller than 1mm and a chip is something you can easily see with the eye; a glazing line is a break in the glazing only; hairline is extremely tight and/or superficial and not picked up by the finger; and a crack is obvious both to the eye and the finger. Etcetera - I try to be as accurate as I can and please feel free to ask questions or request more detailed pictures!


DIMENSIONS 30.5cm (12") high incl. cover, 37cm (14.5") long, 29cm (11.5") deep, base 17cm X 24cm (6.75" X 9.5").

Minton centre piece, mazarine blue with gilt, Sèvres style, 1862-1870



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