Monday, 28 December 2009

Under the Tent ... jd

28 December 2009 – One of the highlights of the auction season for me is the HB-Henriot tent sale! There is a courtyard between the administrative building and the workshops, and a couple of times a year, HB-Henriot covers the courtyard with a tent and has a splendid sale. They sell the remaining pieces for decors that are being deleted from the production line; they sell pieces that have been lying around in the storerooms for a while, sometimes a long while; they sell pieces that were trial runs or models; they sell pieces painted by the painters in their own style – these are some of my favorites. It's a terrific opportunity to pick up some interesting pottery, often one-of-a-kind, always at very good prices.

The sale is run intelligently from a marketing point of view: it lasts a good week, and every day, more stock is put out. So the buyer can never be sure that s/he has seen everything, which necessitates a return trip at least once or twice. I like to go for the opening, return once during the week, and then make a final trip on the last day. You just never know what goodies are going to show up!

I think this is a wine-tasting cup form. I bought six of these, all different. I envision using them for nibbles and nuts, a small first course, or as part of a dessert tray.

The half-mug is my favorite contemporary Quimper form, because we do not use cups and saucers in our house, and these are perfect for after-dinner coffee. Unfortunately for me, HB-Henriot does not make this form any more. These two cups were part of an interesting sale from a year ago: the painters painted in pairs mugs and cups and saucers in all sorts of original designs. Each pair was unique, and it was offered for sale in a box with a coffee or tea sample from a local shop – the presentation was very attractive. These mugs were left over from that sale – lucky for me!

If it has stripes, polka dots, or checks, it floats my boat! I bought two dessert plates with different striping and this one little cup that had no saucer (that's okay with me, and I use these little cups for my 11.00am coffee break). The bottom of the cup has the word "DUR" imprinted in the clay – it means "hard" in French, and it dates the biscuit back to an era when the faïenceries were changing clay and needed to be able to indicate to the painter what kind of glaze should be used. I think that took place in the late 1950s, so the biscuit is old and the polka dots are new.

This plate might have been an apprentice piece to practice this motif. We do a lot of mixing and matching at our dinner table, and this will fit right in. (Sometimes we do mixing without matching, too, and it seems to work.)

For a number of years, HB-Henriot did a series of Christmas ornaments using old snuff bottle molds. This form is a bit larger than the ornaments were, and this decor is one that was short-lived in the late 1990s. Oddly enough, an old snuff bottle in this form was sold at auction last Saturday!

This dessert plate was a color trial run piece for a decor by Mik Jégou.

And these two plates were also color trials – the one on the right refers to Nicot on the back, so we can assume that it includes a blue used for a Nicot piece.

Here is an unusual tile – it is also a color trial piece, in this case for a matte gold glaze. HB-Henriot has been using platinum to highlight a couple of decors for several years now, and maybe there is a decor with gold in the offing!

These two dessert plates are leftovers from the late 1960s. The decor was called "Plougastel", in reference to the area near Brest where some of the best strawberries you've ever tasted come from. It's more pastel than many Quimper patterns, and here it is evident that the painter had some leeway with the decor elements.

And this is probably my tent sale prize find: it is a decor done by Michel Furic in 1994 as a model for a possible 50th anniversary D-Day landing plate that was never produced.

In times gone by, the painters were regularly given time to produce their own designs, some of which were commercialized but many of which were not. It is one explanation for those pieces that seem to have no explanation, and it is one of the most intriguing things about collecting Quimper pottery – you just never know what you might find. HB-Henriot has figured out a fun way to make it possible to find some of those pieces now rather than in another generation!


  1. Judy,
    Thank you for a fascinating glimpse into not just the sale which most of us probably never knew took place but also the wonderful items of rare and unusual Q that can be found there.
    Note to self........remember the HB/Henriot "tent" sale next year!

  2. Judy, you had told me of this sale in years past. What a fascinating post. It is fun to see the variety of items ofered. The little fish and the D-Day plate would have caught my attention. Great finds!
    Happy New Year! ~ Sarah

  3. Most interesting Judy, and a 'window' into why we find some things which seem so mysterious. I do like your D-Day plate, a real treasure and I am fond of polka dots too.