A date to remember: The Robin Simpson collection of commemoratives

Wars and peace treaties. Political victories and political scandals. The Robin Simpson (1940-2020) collection of British commemorative ceramics comes for sale this month.

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Worcester Peace of Amiens beaker – estimate £1000-1500 as part of the Robin Simpson collection

Well known for an encyclopaedic knowledge of British history, Simpson, who worked for the Department of Trade and Industry, was considered the leading collector in this field.

Focusing on the (much rarer) wares from the pre Victorian periods, over 30 years he amassed a collection of over 550 pieces chronicling royal, social, political, war and maritime events from the reign of William and Mary to the 1838 coronation.

Simpson had hoped that the collection might remain intact in an institution but, after enquires led nowhere, he entered into discussions with Andrew Hilton of Historical & Collectable, known for the regular specialist auctions of commemoratives, to handle the sale of the collection.

Hilton will conduct what promises to be a landmark auction on September 8 in conjunction with Woolley & Wallis of Salisbury. A flavour of this remarkable collection appears in this small selection below.

George I and Union

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George I and the Union delft plate – estimate £2000-3000 as part of the Robin Simpson collection.

A London delftware 'Union' plate, c.1714, probably Vauxhall, painted in red, green and blue with the initials GR.

The crossed thistle and rose motif first appeared on similar plated made during the reign of Queen Anne to celebrate the Act of Union of 1707. Estimate £2000-3000.

Cumberland and Culloden

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Chinese export Duke of Cumberland mug – estimate £2000-3000 as part of the Robin Simpson collection.

A Chinese export porcelain mug brightly painted with a half-length portrait of the Duke of Cumberland and the legend In Remembrance of the Glorious Victory at Culloden April 16th 1746.

William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, second son of George III, commanded the British forces that vanquished Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden. A handful of similar mugs are known, the decoration probably based on a portrait by John Wootton of 1744. Estimate £2000-3000.

General James Wolfe

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Worcester General Wolfe mug – estimate £1500-2000 as part of the Robin Simpson collection.

Before Nelson’s glorious death at Trafalgar, there was General James Wolfe, the commander of the force that took Quebec from the French with a surprise attack on September 13, 1759.

Mortally wounded by three musket shots he survived long enough to learn of victory, one that was to lead to the collapse of French power in the new world. This rare Worcester cylindrical mug, c.1760, is printed in black with a half-length portrait flanked by prints of Mars and Fame. Estimate £1500-2000.

The Cider Act

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Cider Act creamware teapot – estimate £2000-2500 as part of the Robin Simpson collection.

A Leeds or Staffordshire creamware teapot and cover, c.1763-66, painted in black with the inscription 'No Cyder Act and 'Apples at Liberty’.

It references Lord Bute's Cider Bill, a tax introduced in 1763 to pay for the ever-mounting cost of the Seven Years War. Such was its unpopularity, especially in the West Country, that Bute was forced to resign with the bill finally repealed in 1766. Estimate £2000-2500.

Charles James Fox and Lord North

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Fox and North enamel plaque – estimate £800-1200 as part of the Robin Simpson collection.

An enamel portrait plaque, c.1783, painted with combined portrait of the faces of North and Fox combined, titled to the reverse Lord Nth & Chles Jms Fox Coalesed.

Although political adversaries, Fox and North formed a coalition with the overwhelming support of North's Tories and Fox's opposition Whigs that came to power on April 2, 1783. The coalition lasted only until March 1784 and the failure of Fox's East India Bill.

Estimate £800-1200.

Support for the smuggler

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'Success to the Smugler pearlware jug – estimate £500-1000 as part of the Robin Simpson collection.

This rare pearlware jug, c.1787 inscribed Success to the Smugler [sic] marks the decline of smuggling in Britain that became less profitable as tax levies on tea and other imports were steadily reduced.

The 1787 Hovering Act further attacked smuggling by extending the duties of customs officials to 12 miles offshore. Estimate £500-1000.

The Peace of Amiens

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Worcester Peace of Amiens beaker – estimate £1000-1500 as part of the Robin Simpson collection

After long negotiations, the Treaty of Amiens was signed on March 25, 1802 by Charles, Marquess Cornwallis and Joseph Bonaparte.

This Chamberlain's Worcester beaker is painted with a scene of a portrait bust of George III being crowned by putti, raised on a pedestal inscribed Peace. Estimate £1000-1500.

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Reform Bill Passed jug – estimate £250-350 as part of the Robin Simpson collection

The Reform Bill

A pearlware jug, c.1832, printed in black with Britannia seated beside a lion and holding a banner inscribed Reform Bill Passed June 1832.

A huge number of souvenirs were produced to mark the passing of The Representation of the People Act that brought about major changes to the electoral system in England and Wales.

To the reverse of this jug are verses from The Gathering of the Unions, also known as the Union Hymn, that was sung on May 7, 1832 at the congregation of Unions in Birmingham, when around 150,000 people gathered at Newhall Hill in support of the Reform Bill. Estimate £250-350



Tags: Collectables
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