Halls has recently been instructed to sell the Ivor Southorn of Coalport. A Broseley native, Ivor Southorn's deep-rooted connection to his hometown and his profound affection for Coalport porcelain has led to the rediscovery of a priceless treasure trove.
29/09/2023 Ceramics & Glass, Latest News, Antiques
After Ivor died in 2006, the whereabouts of this well-known local collection caused a stir over the years with some even believing it to be ‘missing’. This collection has now resurfaced and will be sold over two parts: Part One in the 4th October Ceramics, Pictures and Collectables auction and Part 2 in the 6th December Fine Art, Antiques and Jewellery auction.
Ivor's journey into the realm of collectables commenced in 1935 when, at the tender age of just nine years old, his father unearthed a cache of plaster moulds from the old Coalport China works. These moulds, rescued as the premises were being cleared in anticipation of new ownership, were the catalysts for Ivor's lifelong fascination with Coalport porcelain and local Shropshire history.
It's important to note that his proximity to the original factory played a pivotal role in nurturing this fascination. Ivor's father shared a close friendship with Ted Ball, a Coalport artist based in Ironbridge, affording young Ivor a front-row seat to witness the creation of the iconic landscape scenes that would later grace his collection. It's easy to understand how a young boy could become so enraptured by the world and traditions that surrounded him. Many acquisitions found their way into Ivor's collection through Bill Dickenson, a well-known and beloved dealer based in Ironbridge. His passion for collecting was such that he even embarked on a transatlantic adventure to the United States in pursuit of a specific item. This particular rarity, a vase and cover commemorating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, is estimated to be worth £1500-£2000 and was initially produced in a limited edition of 50, expressly for export to the United States. Its presence on the UK market is a rare occurrence.
Throughout his collecting odyssey, Ivor's enthusiasm occasionally led him to prioritize his acquisitions over mundane expenses like gas and electricity. But his passion transcended mere accumulation; he generously shared his knowledge and love for Coalport with various groups and organizations by delivering captivating talks. His insightful presentations became a regular fixture at local societies dedicated to Broseley's rich history or sometimes hosted at the Cumberland Hotel in Broseley, where his collection took centre stage. Even the hotel's lounge and dining room were adorned with carpets featuring Coalport vase patterns, making every visit an immersive experience.
Under Ivor's management, the Cumberland Hotel evolved into a unique establishment where guests dined on exquisite Coalport china, elevating their dining experience beyond the ordinary pub meal. While Ivor's collection was substantial enough to warrant its own museum, only a portion of it graced the hotel's premises; the rest resided at his home, a treasure trove awaiting discovery. Over the years, select pieces from Ivor's collection were exhibited at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum's Coalport China Museum, offering a wider audience the opportunity to admire the sheer beauty of his cherished items. He once staunchly refused to part with an acquired tray, valuing it too much to leave behind, even when faced with limited space.
Ivor Southorn's legacy lives on, indelibly etched in the hearts of those fortunate enough to have known him. While he could be a formidable presence, when necessary, his profound love for the area and its people radiated through all his endeavours. In memory of Ivor Southorn, we pay tribute to a man of unparalleled passion and dedication, not only to Coalport China but also to the preservation and sharing of Broseley's rich history. His impact on the community remains an enduring and cherished legacy.