Worth Their Salt: The Open Salts Collection of Elaine Cooper

Whitley’s Auctioneers is proud to offer the Collection of Elaine Cooper as part of our auction, The Fired Arts: Curated Selections of Royal Doulton, Wedgwood and Boehm, taking place on Saturday, January 19, 2019 at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

Mrs. Cooper, who passed away in 2018, lived in Southern California and was an active member of the Open Salt Seekers of the West (OSSOTW), which promotes the study, collecting and preservation of open salts, the incredibly beautiful decorative earthenware that graced the tables of both the mighty and common into the Edwardian Age.

The collection is currently on view at Whitley’s Fort Lauderdale area exhibition gallery located at 481 South Federal Highway, Dania Beach, FL 33004. Auction house are Monday – Friday from 10am-5pm and by appointment. You can also preview the collection by clicking here.

Salt cellars were used in ancient Rome, and through the centuries continued to be a feature of table decoration. Open salts were commonly used in the 19th century before shakers came into general use. They were made in a variety of shapes and sizes and in mediums including glass, ceramic and metals. Henry Doulton exhibited the first Doulton salt, a copy of a large Rhenish stoneware salt-cellar, at the International Exhibition of 1862. The public response to this piece encouraged him to open a studio at Lambeth. 

Doulton’s salt-glazed stoneware was robust and could be decorated in fashionable styles. Many Lambeth artists applied ornamental motifs to Doulton open salts which were sold in sets with silver serving spoons. Open salts were ultimately supplanted by salt shakers when free-flowing salt with anti-caking agents was introduced in 1911.

Nearly a century later, in 2009, Elaine Cooper compiled her recollections and highlights from her collection in an authoritative book, Doulton Open Salts: Lambeth, Burslem, Royal  (Xlibris, 80 pages). Many of the open salts featured in color plates in Mrs. Cooper’s historically important work—which include of George Tinworth, Charles Noke, Hannah Barlow, and other masters figure prominently in our January19th auction and are the first lots to be presented beginning at 10am EST. 

This sale presents  lifetime of expert collecting and heirloom pieces.  The Collection of Elaine Cooper reflects the late author and collector’s enduring interest for earthenware ceramics, and her particular passion for the decorative open salts produced by the pottery artists of Royal Doulton and other British and European studios.

For more information you can call 954.866.8044 or email info@whitleysauctioneers.com

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