Staff at Shropshire’s Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust are celebrating after securing a significant piece of china at auction for their collection thanks to support from the local community, charities and foundations. The successful bid of £14,000 means that the iconic Northumberland Vase, one of the largest pieces ever made by the Coalport China Company, will return to public display at Coalport China Museum in the coming weeks.
A fundraising campaign was launched in June appealing to the local community and grant making organisations for pledges to help the Trust purchase the Northumberland Vase at auction on 3rd November. The vase had been on long-term loan to the Museum, as part of the Pilkington Collection, until earlier in the year when the owner decided to sell the items.
The Museum Trust secured the Northumberland Vase with grants from a number of charities and foundations including the Arts Council England/Victoria & Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund, the Worshipful Company of Art Scholars and its Trust, the Walker Trust, the Bostock Foundation, the Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust and the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. These grants were supported with many pledges of financial support from members of the local community and other individuals interested in the appeal.
Made by the Coalport China Company, the large porcelain vase is adorned with elaborate handles, gilt scrolling, and beautiful panels painted by two of the best artists, not only at Coalport, but at any china works in Britain. It was created as an exhibition piece to advertise the superior quality of the company’s ornamental china and was showcased at the 1862 International Exhibition in London, where it won a bronze medal. The vase was subsequently purchased by the Duke of Northumberland and housed at Alnwick Castle.
Nicole Hermanns, Fundraising Manager at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust said: “Whilst the Museum owns many examples of ornamental Coalport porcelain, none of the pieces in our collection compare to the size, quality and opulence of the Northumberland Vase. The acquisition of this piece has greatly enhanced our nationally Designated collections. We are so grateful that the local community rallied behind our call to save this magnificent piece of Shropshire history – without their help, and that of the larger foundations, we may not have been able to bring the vase home to Coalport China Museum.”
Julia Brettell, National Programmes Manager at the Victoria and Albert Museum commented: "The Arts Council England/Victoria & Albert Purchase Grant Fund is delighted to support the acquisition of the Northumberland Vase. The vase showcases the skills of the local workforce and it is entirely appropriate that it remains on display at the Coalport China Museum and accessible to the public."
Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund Director, said: "We are so pleased we were able to play a part in helping Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust secure this striking vase, ensuring it can remain on display at the site where it was manufactured, and be accessible to the public, scholars, and enthusiasts for generations to come. It is also heartening to see so much support coming from the public and local community. This is truly where the Northumberland Vase belongs.”
One of the unique qualities of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is that many of the objects within its collections are displayed in their place of origin. The Northumberland Vase was made at the site that is now Coalport China Museum. It is now a key item in the Museum’s permanent, nationally Designated collections.
For more information about the Northumberland Vase or the Museums’ fundraising work, contact the Fundraising Team on Telephone: 01952 435 900 or email email@example.com