Cheap Dust Collector or Expensive Treasure?
If you have watched Antiques Roadshow you may have seen someone who picked up a little trinket for $2.00 at a second-hand store only to find out it was worth 100 times that. How do they do it?
Modern manufacturing has allowed many ceramic pieces to be mass-produced for the souvenir market throughout the world. Many of these souvenirs are based on pieces from exclusive porcelain workshops such as Royal Doulton or in this case Royal Worcester.
The mass production of porcelain souvenirs has allowed many valuable pieces to be mistaken as a cheap souvenir, when in fact they are valued at several hundred dollars each.
The example I have pictured here is a piece from Worchester, crafted by Ronald van Ruyckevelt who worked at Royal Worcester from 1953 to 1974. It is part of the Ben Ronalds Collection, which is a story in itself.
Benjamin Ronalds was glass maker and migrated from England when he was 19. He had various jobs in South East Queensland before returning to glass making at Oxlades. In 1924 Ben started his own glass company, the Decorative Glass Company in West End, which is still in operation from the same location today.
Ben Stared collecting ceramics before World War II. Although it was not until the post war success of his company that Ben carried out his desire to specialise in collecting Royal Worcester porcelain. In 1966 an Australian Representative of Royal Worcester inspected the collection and was amazed at his world-standing holdings of their ceramics and glass. The complete collection of about 800 items also contains comparative pieces from other ceramics manufactures.
The collection was gifted to Queensland Museum by Mrs Alvia Ronalds after the passing of Ben in 1970. Mrs Alvia had to leave her house, where the collection was maintained, due to ill-health, so the collection was moved to the Museum in 1976 where it is now maintained as the “Ben Ronalds Collection” in a fitting tribute to a man whose love of fine things had led to it’s assembly.
This post has been put together with the assistance of Karen Kindt, Assistant Collections Manager, Queensland Museum.
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