With our November Fine Art sale rapidly approaching on the 10th November, we’d like to showcase one of the finest collections in the sale, which is that of George Tinworth Doulton Lambeth mice. These figures are very rare, and fought over by collectors. Before we showcase these fabulous lots, we’d like to take the opportunity to dive into the history of such a fascinating figure in the history of English ceramics.
George Tinworth, 1843-1913
The Tinworth Collection in our upcoming Fine Art sale
Born on 5th November 1843, George Tinworth was an English ceramicist who worked at the Royal Doulton factory at Lambeth until his death in 1913. Growing up in extreme poverty, he was the only one of four sons to survive through infancy. He was the apprentice of his greengrocer-turned-wheelwright father, Joshua. He spent his spare time carving off cuts, which developed his blooming talent as a child and also allowed him to discover his passion for the craft. He started to carve butter stamps, which was noticed by a local foreman plasterer the street next to where he lived, who suggested he should go on to study art anatomy.
Coming from poverty, at age 19 he chose to pawn his overcoat to pay for evening classes at the local ‘Lambeth School of Art’ in Kennington Park Road, which is now known as ‘City and Guilds of London Art School’. He would hide these classes from his father as he was brought up to follow in his footsteps, whereas George wanted to focus on his craft. His mother assisted him in keeping this secret from his father, going as far to lie about his whereabouts in the evenings whilst he was at his classes.
Before he sold any of his work, Tinworth held down multiple jobs such as mending cartwheels, the same skill his father wanted him to chase. He also worked in a fireworks factory in which he earned half a crown per week. After this, he worked at a hot presser, working from 7am to 9pm, for 4 shillings a week. The year he began studying at Lambeth, he created the piece ‘The Mocking of Christ’, which to this day is displayed at the Cuming Museum. During his studies, he was a part of a group of students who assisted the headmaster, John Sparkes, in the creation of a terracotta frieze for an extension to the Doulton premises.
At age 21, after his studies at Lambeth, he went on to win a place at the Royal Academy Schools and won various medals for his work. After the death of his father, he struggled to support himself as well as his mother, which was noticed by former headmaster John Sparkes. Sparkes managed to persuade his friend Henry Doulton to employ Tinworth, and in 1886 went on to join Lambeth stoneware manufacturer Doulton. Initially, he made cases for water fillers, but soon moved on to producing the then new salt-glazed stoneware, ‘Doulton Ware’. Roughly 30 pieces went on to be shown at the 1987 Paris exhibition. In 1872, Tinworth created the ‘History of England’ vase. It went on to be shown at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Doulton sent in 1500 of their best pieces, and is considered to be the height and prime of Henry Doulton and Doulton Lambeth pottery.
Sadly in 1913, while on the way to work via Putney Railway Station, Tinworth died. He was buried in his mother’s plot at West Norwood Cemetery. Unfortunately, the monument on the tomb was destroyed in the 1980s by the London Borough of Lambeth as they reused graves for new burials. After a descendant protested, a plaque was issued commemorating those buried in the plot. Throughout his career, Tinworth regularly referenced religious and biblical beliefs and often produced pieces for churches. His work can still be found in the likes of York Minster, Truro Cathedral, St Gabriel’s Church, and many more.
Tinworth was known for various designs, such as vases, animals and comical figures. By far one of the most collectible sides to his work is his mice. Lighthearted and comical, they were initially designed as flower and menu holders. Some were modelled to be chess pieces, or even paperweights. Still to this day, Tinworth mice are heavily sought after. Which brings us to our recently acquired collection. Let’s have a look!
Starting with lot number 414: This piece is called ‘Going to the Derby’, circa 1885, and is estimated to sell between £2,500-£5,000.
Lot 415 is titled ‘Playgoers’ in a brown, green and blue colourway, circa 1885. This piece is estimated to sell between £1,500-£3,000.
Lot number 416 is a mouse seated on a bun holding a raisin, in a brown and blue colourway, and estimated to sell between £400-£800.
Up next is lot number 417, which is titled ‘Waits and Water’. Featuring white mice in a blue and brown colourway, circa 1885, it’s estimated to sell for £1,500-£3,000.
Lot 418 is a comical figure of a mouse wheeling a large vase, in a two tone blue, brown and green colourway, circa 1885. Estimated to sell between £400-£800.
Next up from the collection is lot number 419, which is a comical figure of a mouse playing a trumpet in a two tone green, brown and blue colourway, circa 1885. This piece is looking to sell to between £400 – £800.
Lot number 422 is a figure of a mouse playing the flute, in a two tone brown and blue colourway, circa 1885. Estimated to sell between £500-£1,000.
Up next we have lot number 423, which is a figure of a mouse writing in a two tone blue and brown colourway, circa 1885. Looking to sell between £400-£800.
Next up from the collection is lot number 427, a comical musical mouse group in a two tone brown and green colourway, circa 1885. Estimated to sell between £1,000-£2,000.
Lot 428, titled ‘Crossing The Channel’ and is a comical frog and mouse group, in brown and blue colourway, circa 1885. Estimated to sell for a grant total of £3,000-£6,000.
Lot number 429, titled ‘Playgoers’, is a comical mouse group in a two tone brown colourway, circa 1885. Estimated to sell between £1,000-£2,000.
Up next from the collection is lot number 430, which is a mouse seated on a bun holding a raisin, in a green and brown colourway, with hollow base, circa 1885. Estimated to sell for £400 – £800.
Next we have lot number 431, titled ‘Hunting’, is a comical frog and mouse group in a two tone brown and green colourway, circa 1885. Estimated to sell between £3,000-£6,000.
Lot 432, titled ‘Playgoers’ and is a comical mouse group, with white mice in a blue and brown colourway, circa 1885. Estimated to sell between £1,250-£2,500.
Up next from this fantastic collection, we have lot number 433, which is a mouse seated on a bun holding a raisin, in a two tone brown colourway circa 1885. This lot is estimated to sell between £400-£800.
Lot number 434, titled ‘Grinder’, is a comical mouse group of white mice in a two tone brown and blue colourway, circa 1885. Estimated to sell between £1,000-£2,000.
Next up we have lot number 435, titled ‘Homeless’ and is a mouse group in a two tone brown colourway, circa 1885. Estimated to sell between £600-£1,200.
Lot 436 is a comical figure of a mouse playing a trombone in a two tone brown, blue and green colourway, circa 1885. Estimated to sell between £400-£800!
Next, we have lot number 437, which is a stoneware novelty desk tidy, in the form of a carpenter’s bag of tools, attributed to George Tinworth. Estimated to sell for £150-£300.
Finally we have the last lot of the collection, lot number 461. This lovely vase is decorated all around with scrolling seaweed and is initialled ‘GT’. Estimated to sell between £100-£200.
How to Buy George Tinworth Doulton Lambeth at Auction
As you can see from this fabulous collection, George Tinworth was truly a visionary for English ceramics and definitely left his mark on the industry. If you would like to try and buy any of these lots, they go up for sale in our November Fine Art sale which starts on November 10th and ends on November 12th. If you have your eyes set on any of these lovely pieces, you’ll be sure to face up against some other Tinworth collectors. Best of luck, you’ll need it!