In 1808, James Christie II was employed to sell the remaining stock of the Cambrian Company, the London Warehouse of the Swansea Pottery located at 64 Fleet Street. The auction sales, between February and April 1808, comprised around 14,000 pieces in over 1,000 lots, similar in scale to the Wedgwood & Bentley disposals in 1781.
Much of the finest pottery made in Swansea was included in these 1808 sales - pieces decorated with Nelson, the Welsh Bard, Birds and Butterflies etc. However, letters in Philadelphia prove that the Warehouse, established just eighteen months before in the middle of 1806, was opened to showcase Lewis Weston Dillwyn's lustre.
Despite the clear artistic success, the auction sales point to a commercial failure. Notwithstanding Nelson's victory at Trafalgar in 1805, the global economy remained depressed, with trade disrupted given the actions of the British, French and Americans, culminating in Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807.
This book, based on archive material, studies the background to the Warehouse and links wares to the only surviving sale catalogue from Christie's archives. These are reprinted in facsimile.
The Christie's sales provide firm dating for Swansea's fine pottery products. It is also likely that the Cambrian Company sold porcelain, nearly a decade before William Billingsley arrived in Swansea in 1814.