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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Threat to Minton Archive by Martin Bailey

Reprinted from the March 2009 issue of the Art Newspaper, a British art periodical

Threat to Minton Archive, by Martin Bailey

Potteries Museums Mount Rescue Plan
LONDON. The Minton ceramics archive faces dispersal, following the financial collapse of the Waterford Wedgwood Group in January. Minton, founded in 1793, had been acquired by Royal Doulton in 1968, which in turn was bought by Waterford Wedgwood in 2005. Bonhams, which has been advising over the Minton archive sale, has valued it at around £6m. With material dating back to the late 18th century, the Minton archive ranges from painted designs for plates to financial records. Among the major 19th century designers represented are Augustus Pugin and Christopher Dresser. If the archive goes to auction, it would be divided into lots and dispersed. In the present situation, the Waterford Wedgwood administrators, Deloitte, are obliged to maximise the proceeds, and this might well involve breaking up the collection.

A rescue plan is now being mounted jointly by the Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston and the Potteries Museum in Stoke-on- Trent. The archive would be jointly owned, but would normally be stored at the Wedgwood Museum, which has modern facilities.

Discussions are currently under way on the price, since the museums feel that £6m is excessive; they have commissioned independent valuations suggesting a figure around half that sum. Approaches are being made to the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund.

The government appears supportive. Deputy chief whip Lord Davies said in the House of Lords on 11 February: we are "fully seized of the importance of the archive and we want to see it intact and, preferably, in the Potteries [area of Midlands]".

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