Carp Circles 530/6
Designer: Nicola Slaney
Limited Edition: 75
One of the more remarkable moments in my life as a Moorcroft collector was to receive a letter from a retired schoolmaster living in a nearby village. At the time of his mother’s wedding, the couple had been given a ‘waisted’ vase, as their son described it, decorated with fish. To keep out the dust, the family had even put a cork in the narrow, open neck of the vase! I was not to know it at the time, but that vase was to turn into the most remarkable find of my collecting career. I knew what I was looking at in a split second, but what made the find so exciting was that this double-gourd Carp vase was decorated in the colours of William Moorcroft’s Red Cornflower range and not the more traditional blues and greens. Incredibly, this meant that it would have been one of the first pieces to have ever emerged from a Sandbach Road bottle oven in 1913. Truly great moments in the life of a collector are rare, but on this occasion, I declined strenuous attempts to sell me the Carp vase. Later on, the schoolmaster would have always wondered whether I had been entirely scrupulous or fair in the price offered, and that was something I could have done without. Instead, I telephoned, there and then, the man who was probably the finest active Moorcroft collector in the world and I was not altogether surprised when he agreed to come along immediately to see the Carp vase for himself. To cut a long story short, the collector purchased the Carp vase for £13,500 at which point, he admitted later, it instantly became the finest piece in his collection!
Florian Carp pieces are very rare, and whenever they surface, prices are strong. In my collecting life, I have only ever owned two, and both had been sold to help keep the Moorcroft factory working back in 1986. Since the era of William Moorcroft, carp literally disappeared from view at Moorcroft. Walter had no time for fish, and it was not until Sally Tuffin produced her own glorious version of the Carp design that the images began to reappear in Moorcroft art. Drawn on a celadon ground, Sally’s Carp range had much to recommend it and I still have a pair of the prestige RM3/27 limited edition vases standing either side of my lounge fireplace in Stoke-on-Trent.
Other designers have since taken their own opportunities to design carp for Moorcroft. Most recent was Emma Bossons FRSA with her Deep Waters design, a limited edition long-since sold out. It is now the turn of Nicola Slaney, a Moorcroft designer who has never before ventured into the world of fish. Drawn on the old-style Moorcroft planter and using celadon clay, Carp Circles, is full of movement and subtle colour. For me it is special, which is why it has joined other great designs in The Circles of Life section of the 2012 Catalogue. My only regret is that Carp Circles appears as a relatively small limited edition, but who knows about the future? Anything is possible in the design world at Moorcroft today. Carp will swim quietly past again.