A Worcester Transparent Rock Butter Boat: Rarity in Abundance

Published 18th April 2013

I was having something of a bad day when up pops an email request for a valuation that was titled ‘Blue and white pin trays’. I groan quietly to myself and opened the message wondering what form of words I was going to select in order to let the sender down gently. One can be blunt when delivering good news as it is always well received, but through experience, auctioneers have a tactfully extensive vocabulary for delivering disappointing news.

 a worcester porcelain butter boat in the transparent rock pattern circa 1758

A Worcester porcelain butter boat in the Transparent Rock pattern circa 1758 (FS18/550)

On opening the images, I was delighted to see a pair of First Period Worcester porcelain butter boats, not pin trays, but quaintly unnecessary leaf shaped cups for containing melted butter. Pleasantly surprised, I pulled down the relevant volume to find that they were a rarity from 1758 in a pattern known as The Transparent Rock. Named on account of there being a large piece of quartz in the foreground of a rather quirky landscape containing a tiny house…. and the book said the illustrated example was the only one known; quite a rarity and ironic as quartz is the second most abundant mineral on earth.

 the underside of a worcester porcelain butter boat with tiny workmans mark on the handle

The underside of a Worcester porcelain butter boat with tiny workmans mark on the handle (FS18/551)

So in our fine sale next week, there are two rare Worcester porcelain butter boats in the Transparent Rock pattern, or so I thought. My book is a 1981 first edition and it seems several more have since come to light including, can you believe it another being sold on the same day as ours? Just like buses, you wait ages for one, only for three to turn up all at once.

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