St George and the Chemist

St George and the Chemist

Rare Pilkington panel from the pottery's chemist features in our Fine Art auction


An impressive Edwardian tile panel and a minuscule vase known as a ‘twiffler’ are among sixteen items in a private collection of Pilkington's Royal Lancastrian Pottery to be auctioned in our Fine Art & Antiques auction on Tuesday, September 6th at 11 am. 

The standout lot of Pilkington in the auction is an almost 4ft wide plaster tile panel featuring St George and the Dragon, from the collection of Abraham Lomax. Lomax was the chemist at Pilkington's during its 1904-1908 heyday, when some of the most influential designers and artists in the firm’s history were producing arguably some of its most acclaimed pieces, including this highly-prized design. 

Established in 1892, the Clifton-based firm rapidly became a Northern powerhouse of ceramic tile production before expanding into the decorative vases, bowls and other pottery wares it became famous for with its much-coveted Royal Lancastrian series.

The panel was produced after the design was originally used on a large and impressively lustre-fired St George and the Dragon vase, showcased in the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition. This vase became part of the prestigious Anthony J. Cross ceramics collection before selling at a recent auction for £75,000. However, even in 1908, it stood out to those involved as an extraordinary piece of work, even by the firm’s high standards. As Abraham Lomax noted in the book he wrote about Pilkington's (a copy of which is included in the sale of the panel), “more use should be made of this masterpiece of art and craftmanship than just decoration of two vases".

The firm then made six plaster casts in slab form which were presented to factory owners David and Joseph Burton, its designers William Mycock and Gordon Forsyth, along with another Pilkington's artist, John Chambers. The final slab was given to Abraham Lomax. The original cast remained at the factory in Clifton until 1972, when it is believed to have been broken up.

“We’re delighted to offer this panel and other pieces from the Lomax family collection at our upcoming Fine Art and Antiques auction,” comments Gildings’ director and specialist in British Art Pottery, Will Gilding. “Given the scarcity of this remarkable panel, we expect it to attract international attention. The pre-sale estimate is £5,000-£8,000, however, the value is difficult to determine without any precedents.

“A huge factor in Pilkington's reputation for excellence is its adventurous glazes, such as vermilion orange and a range of lustre glazes. As the chemist between 1896 and 1911, Abraham Lomax would undoubtedly have been in charge of glaze development during the instrumental period between 1904 and 1908, so the panel and the other items in the auction from his personal collection have a very special provenance indeed.”

In stark contrast to the 4ft panel, the auction also features a hand-thrown vase barely 1cm in height. This rare miniature vase is an example of what is affectionately known to Pilkington's enthusiasts as a ‘twiffler’.

“Smaller than some doll’s house accessories, these whimsical miniatures were thrown by the renowned potter Edward T Radford to experiment with new shapes and are also believed to have been presented to guests of the factory,” adds Will Gilding. “So, despite its diminutive size, this vase is likely to make at least £100 in its own right.”. The Lomax Collection lots begin at lot 143 to 158.


The mixed category auction features over 300 lots of books, ceramics, glassware, Asian art, silver, pictures, sculpture, and furniture and furnishings. Public viewing is open on Friday 2nd, and Monday 5th September between 9:30am and 4:30pm, and the morning of the auction from 9am-11am. Bidders can bid in the room, bid live via, or via absentee or telephone bids.

The online catalogue is available to view HERE