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Who was R J Keeling? Plus Upcoming Aynsley China at our July Fine Art Sale

Debbie Porter

Our July Fine Art sale will feature a series of lots pertaining to the artist R J Keeling and his daughter Annie. These lots include numerous personal effects – including family photographs, official documents, religious books and recipes belonging to Annie. The collection also comprises paintings, as well as a number of designs that R J Keeling had created for fine pottery producers John Aynsley & Sons.

Some of R J Keeling’s artwork and designs, as well as some of Annie’s personal effects

Part of Lot 977 in our July Fine Art sale, this shows some of R J Keeling’s artwork and designs, as well as some of Annie’s personal effects. Lot 977 is estimated £40-£80.

Richard James Keeling was born in 1861 and was an artist of local note: Between 1900 and 1938, he enjoyed a tenure as one of the best designers for the pottery producer John Aynsley & Sons. He was also known for studies of British & Irish scenery, as well as naturalistic depictions of fish, notable for their serene colour and style. These, he created both as paintings, and as designs for Aynsley. Keeling also produced an array of intricate and very decorative pattern designs for the company.

An Aynsley cabinet plate that features artwork by R J Keeling of Dunstaffnage Castle

This Aynsley cabinet plate, part of a pair, features artwork by R J Keeling of Dunstaffnage Castle. Lot 967, estimate £40-£80.

John Aynsley & Sons were founded in 1775, in Lane End, Longton in Stoke-on-Trent. The original John Aynsley began as an enameller, before moving on to manufacturing pottery. The company produced tableware and giftware, as well as commemorative items, and handpainted figurines and animals. The company even won interest from Queen Victoria, who commissioned a set of personal tableware. Later commissions were also received from Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales. Several generations after its beginning, the company was acquired in 1970, by Waterford, and was renamed Aynsley China Ltd. They were acquired again in 1997 by the Irish company Belleek Pottery Group, and while the Stoke-on-Trent factory closed in 2014, Belleek continues to produce items using the Aynsley brand name.

A cabinet plate, cup & saucer set with Keeling artwork depicting country scenes

Another piece in our July Fine Art sale featuring Keeling artwork is this cabinet plate, cup & saucer depicting country scenes. Lot 968, estimate £30-£60.

Another company that Keeling worked for was Star China Co, having been appointed as a landscape painter there in 1907. This was at the Atlas Works in Longton, on a weekly salary of one pound ten shillings. The company was run by William Illingworth, along with John Aynsley’s sons Herbert James and John Gerrard. The company would later change its name to Paragon China Company in 1919.

In his personal life, Richard Keeling married in 1883 to Annie Reeves. They had a daughter, Annie, and a son who is understood to have died young. However, Richard was very fond of Annie. An early will he penned in 1900 showed his fondness for her, in which he declared all his furniture to be left to her, as well as one of his watches. R J Keeling would eventually go on to pass away in 1949, and is buried in Longton Cemetery.

How to Buy or Sell Aynsley China at Auction

Here at Potteries Auctions, we run regular auctions and attract buyers and sellers from all over the world. We’re based in the heart of the Staffordshire Potteries with two salerooms; the Silverdale Saleroom and the Cobridge Saleroom, so we’re best placed to offer valuations and advice. This is because our experts can assess your pottery for authenticity and market value.

If you have Aynsley pieces or sets, we can identify and provide valuations to tell you how much it’s worth. Please get in touch with usto discuss how we can help you or request a call back if you are looking for an expert evaluation and are seeking to sell your Wedgwood or add to your collection.

Did you know we can collect your pottery from anywhere in the UK? We also offer solutions for shipping too. We can pack and safely post your goods, perfect for transporting pieces that have been bought via our online auctions.