Q: I am requesting more information on this amazing 25-inch vase signed by what looks like “Doulton.” It is also marked “Gilman & Collamore Company New York.”
A: Yes, this is an amazing vase, both for its extraordinary size and for its superb artistry. But before we get into the vase itself, we want to discuss Gilman & Collamore Company of New York.
The history here starts with Ebenezer Collamore, who was an importer of fine glass and porcelain with a shop at 171 Broadway in New York. Ebenezer hired his brother, Davis Collamore, but in 1842, this sibling opened his own business at 595 Broadway.
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The enterprise came to rival Tiffany & Co. and Black, Starr & Frost as sellers of luxury goods in New York. They offered hand-painted porcelains from a number of English and continental manufacturers, as well as some American makers, such as Cincinnati’s famous art pottery company, Rookwood. The company promoted American brilliant period cut glass and represented Rookwood at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris.
In 1854, another brother joined the Davis Collamore firm. This was Gilman Collamore, who opened his own importing firm in 1861. Gilman, who imported and retailed the vase in today’s question, opened his first store at 731 Broadway, but subsequently moved to Union Square. Then, Davis moved to 30th Street and Fifth Avenue before finally settling at 155 E. Fifth Ave. in the early 1920s.
As for the maker of this piece, it was Doulton and Company, Ltd., which was located on Nile Street in Burslem, England, starting in 1882. But Doulton itself started with John Doulton and John Watts making stoneware at Lambeth in 1820. The company made some decorative items, but they specialized in more utilitarian wares, such as ginger beer bottles.
Henry Doulton joined the firm in 1835 and in 1846 set up his own pottery to make such things as sewer tile. John Doulton, Jr. got into the pottery business as well, but one year after John Watts retired in 1853, the three Doulton potteries joined together as Doulton and Company.
The bulk of Doulton and Company’s production was still utilitarian stoneware, but they began experimenting with art wares for the 1862 International Exhibition. Over the years, this artistic stoneware became more important to the company, and in 1882, they established the Burslem factory, which began making porcelains in 1884.
The magnificent vase in today’s question was decorated by James Boulton, who did mainly floral designs but also painted some of the “blue children” (images of youngsters painted in cobalt blue). He worked between 1880 and 1917, but the mark on this piece suggests it was made between 1891 and 1902, when the company began styling itself “Royal Doulton.”
The Doulton market is seriously depressed right now, but the insurance replacement value of this rare vase is still between $2,500 and $3,500.
Write to Joe Rosson, P.O. Box 27419, Knoxville, TN 37927, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like your question to be considered for the column, please include a high-resolution photo of the subject, which must be in focus.