One of my favorite things to both buy and sell is the colorful pottery known as majolica. My favorite majolica is Victorian English majolica. It is so colorful that it brightens any home. I have included a photo of a table top in our living room showing how well this English majolica also looks great with other things.
Majolica, What Is It
Here is a brief definition of majolica. What distinguishes majolica from other forms of pottery is the glaze. Majolica requires to firings and the final glaze is the beautiful translucent and colorful glazes that collectors seek. It is a metal oxide glaze in the second firing over the first glaze that produces majolica.
The most popular majolica is that produced in the last half of the nineteenth century. It remained popular until around the turn of the century. The first major pottery in England to produce majolica was Minton. Minton displayed some of their wares at an exhibition in London in 1851 and was a big hit. There was not a lot of interest in collecting majolica until the second half of the twentieth century and it remains popular today. For a more complete history and definition of majolica, you can check it out here on Wikipedia.
Buying and Selling Majolica
In the last ten years we, as well as many dealers in our mall have bought and sold a lot of majolica. Customers prefer English majolica over those of other countries. As a side note, we are from Dallas, and English and French antiques are definitely the antiques of choice here. And if you have read many posts on this site you know that I love buying antiques in England. Many people want to know what is the most popular or what sells the best. We have sold more green majolica leaf plates than anything else. There are two main reasons for this. It is the most plentiful item in majolica and it is the least expensive. We have some green leaf plates on Ruby Lane for $55 each. The beautiful green goes well with many other things, so acts as a good filler when doing a larges display, especially on a large dresser or plate rack. I have see n some beautiful majolica displays on English pine dressers and racks. I will try to post a photo of one of our dealers.
For dealers wanting to sell majolica, may I suggest to focus on plates and platters in the beginning. We have sold many more plates than bowls, pitchers, and other items. Plates can be displayed so easily. Besides displaying well on furniture as I mentioned, many hang the plates on walls. You are very limited on how you can display the other pieces. It doesn’t mean not to buy other pieces. I think you always need a variety of anything you sell. It always help to have a few wow pieces to complete a display and draw people’s attention.
We have a large green majolica garden urn and pedestal that makes an impressive statement when setting on a table surrounded by other majolica pieces. There are other spectacular pieces of majolica that run into the thousands of dollars.
A very specialized form of majolica called palissy and much of it came from Portugal. Some of the plates and pitchers are covered in very realistic insects, lizards and snakes. These are one of those things that you either love or hate. I have included a photo to show, because they are so different. There are other pieces of palissy that can cost thousands, and are quite striking. I saw a piece that was a fishing creel with a string of fish hanging out of it. The workmanship was unbelievable.
There is also majolica made in many other countries including Italy, France, Mexico, and the United States. Each of these have their own distinctive look and have followers that prefer these. But we found the English majolica was much preferred, although we did sell some continental majolica. The English majolica seemed to be of a higher quality. Some American majolica made here in the U.S. looks very similar to English majolica where Italian majolica and Mexican majolica have their own distinctive looks.
Majolica tile have also become very collective. The English incorporated majolica tiles in some of their Victorian furniture, especially wash stands. And of course they used it in homes surrounding fire places and other places. Some of the patterns are beautiful. There are many art nouveau majolica tiles and they are highly sought after. Much harder to find is a majolica tile with picture of people and other things like buildings incorporated in the glaze. I have only had a few of these and some can be expensive. Many individual tiles can cost over $100. Some people just buy them to display hanging on the wall. One of our clients actually was using tile in his kitchen and running a line of tile around the kitchen. I forgot the exact number, but every fifth (or so) tile was an antique tile, while the others were new ones. This gave his kitchen a very unique look.
I am going to include a video showing many different majolica pieces since I can not fit in enough photos to illustrate even a small portion of all the wonderful pieces that are just waiting for you to discover them.
I hope you enjoyed the video and maybe discovered something that inspired you. You might also check out other articles on my site, Buying and Selling Antiques, that you might find enjoyable. Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know if you have questions or just want to let me know if you collect majolica and what you enjoy.