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Why are Enamel Boxes so Popular?

Fareeha Ahmad

Enamel boxes such as those made by Moorcroft Enamels, Halcyon Days and others are highly sought-after and collectible items, owed in no small part to the time and skill it takes to produce one.

The Process

Copper blanks, after pressing. (Credit:

To begin with, thin copper sheets are pressed into shape. They are then washed in acid, soapy water and clean water to clean and prepare the surface for receiving the first layer of enamel.

Next, the components are dipped or sprayed with liquid enamel – an exact combination of water, clay, pigments and fine glass particles known as ‘frit’ – before being kiln fired at 800°. This process of dipping or spraying, and firing is carried out at least five times, each instance fraught with the risk of damaging the enamel. Time and great care must be taken to ensure a flawless result.

A piece by Halcyon Days undergoes the process of hand painting. (Credit:

After this, a lithographic transfer is applied to act as a guide for the painters and the piece is fired again. A notable exception, however, is Elliot Hall Enamels, formerly Moorcroft Enamels, who chooses to avoid this step and paint their pieces directly.

The finishing touches being applied to a piece by Elliot Hall Enamels. (Credit:

Each piece is then hand painted, a painstaking exercise in which the design is gradually applied to the surface using a special enamelling paint.

The task can take hours or even days to complete. In particular, Elliot Hall Enamels describes their paints as semi-translucent, needing to be built up in layers and with each colour requiring a separate firing – a monumental undertaking!

After a final firing, the pieces are assembled and affixed to a gold- or palladium plated mount and subject to inspection.

Enamels at Auction

This attractive Moorcroft enamel and silver Heron hip flask was featured in our Stone Collection Part 1 timed auction. By Amanda Rose, and one of a limited edition of 75, it sold for £330

This fantastic Moorcroft enamel Hunters vase by Terry Halloran was featured in our Stone Collection Part 1 timed auction. One of a limited edition of 75, it achieved a hammer price of £490

In our Stone Collection Part 1 timed auction, we were privileged to feature a stunning collection of Kingsley, Marshall, Crummles and Moorcroft Enamels. Comprising over 100 lots, and with many more to be featured in future sales, these exquisite pieces were sourced from the collection of one single miniature enamel collector, whose passion for the medium is self-evident.

Another piece by Terry Halloran, and one of a limited edition of just 25, this Moorcroft enamel Sparrow Hawk vase realised a hammer price of £410

Also by Terry Halloran was this limited edition of 75 Moorcroft enamel Merlin vase, which sold for a fantastic £350

The sale included limited edition pieces, as well as examples painted by notable Moorcroft Enamels artists such as Fiona Bakewell, Nigel Creed, Terry Halloran and others. This naturally attracted significant interest from bidders and led to some fantastic results!

Enamels Currently for Sale

Lot 3 in our Stone Collection Part 2 timed auction is this limited edition 33/75 Moorcroft enamel and silver Eider Duck hip flask by Amanda Rose

This charming limited edition 41/100 Moorcroft enamel Otter Bonbonniere by Faye Williams will also be featured

So many more quality enamels will be featured in our upcoming Stone Collection Part 2 timed auction, plus even more in at least 2 timed and live auctions later in the year.

Another Faye Williams piece to be featured in our Stone Collection Part 2 timed sale is this Moorcroft enamel Raggiana Bird of Paradise ginger jar. Limited edition 9/50

, Lot 30 in our Stone Collection Part 2 timed auction will be this limited edition 79/250 Moorcroft enamel Hesperian carp by R. Douglas Ryder

Lot 10 is this vibrantly coloured limited edition 29/100 Moorcroft enamel Papillon Butterfly vase by Fiona Bakewell

Be sure to sign up to Potteries Live and register to bid in our Stone Collection Part 2 timed auction, which begins on 8th May at 4pm.

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