The Donaldson Collection of Troika.
We are delighted to have been asked to offer for sale, the well-known, and very important, Donaldson Collection of Troika.
Troika pottery came to life in February 1962 and was founded by Leslie Illsley, Jan Thompson and Benny Serota. The name Troika is Russian for a sledge drawn by 3 horses, on which Benny Serota’s grandfather had escaped Russia dressed as a woman, hence the use of the word for the new pottery. The 3 founders took over the Power and Wells pottery at Wheal Dream, in St Ives, Cornwall, where Benny Serota had worked and stayed there until moving to Fragden Place in Newlyn, Cornwall, in 1970.
Troika pottery became very successful with critical acclaim and very high sales, selling through the likes of Heals and Liberty stores in London. The factory sadly closed in 1983.
Ann and Neville Donaldson have been extremely keen and well known collectors of pottery and porcelain for over 40 years and Troika in particular for over 30. They bought their first pieces of Troika at Truro flea market in the early 1980s whilst living in West Cornwall, fascinated by the Troika shapes and colours, and the influence of Constantin Brancusi, Paul Klee, Ben Nicholson and Henry Moore.
Over that time, they have built up a large collection and have handled a great deal of this very special pottery. In fact, as they say, in the words of the late Victor Kiam, “We liked it so much, we bought the factory” when it closed in 1983.
This included around 350 original moulds, biscuit pieces (fully formed but unfinished pieces) original colours, glazes, order books, various documents and ephemera. Some of the biscuit pieces have now become highly collectable in their own right in this rare form.
Since the purchase, the moulds have been in secure storage and remain completely untouched, only being disturbed to be catalogued and photographed by the curator of www.cornishceramics.
In 1992, Ann and Neville came together with Carol Cashmore who was keen to write an authoritative book on Troika Pottery. This resulted in her most excellent book ‘Troika Pottery, St Ives’ published in 1994 in which the Donaldsons are acknowledged and some of their collection is illustrated. The book is regarded as the classic reference work on Troika pottery.
In 1993 when the Tate Gallery, St Ives, opened, the then curator, Michael Tooby viewed the Donaldson Collection at their then home near Penzance. As opening displays and exhibitions were already planned, Mr Tooby suggested exhibiting the collection in the longer term. In the meantime, the Donaldsons moved back to their native Northumberland, bringing the collection of moulds with them.
In May 1994, some of the Donaldson Collection was loaned to Harry Lyons from New Century Gallery for the highly successful Kensington Exhibition in London.
In July 2011, Ann Donaldson appeared on the BBC’s ‘The Antiques Roadshow’ which was filmed at Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland, where some of the collection of moulds was examined and appraised by the BBC’s pottery expert Will Farmer. On camera, Mr Farmer valued the collection of moulds at £70,000. This was the highest ever valuation he had done in his time with the Roadshow.
The Donaldson Collection comprises of around 350 original Troika factory moulds and is a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire this extremely important collection which will appeal to both discerning, serious collectors, and Public Galleries and Museums.
All enquiries and serious offers will be treated in full confidence and should be made to The Wallington Gallery please.