Here is a splendid basket made at the King Street factory in Derby and painted and signed by the artist, Harry Sampson Hancock. It presents a view of the Derwent River with the skyline of the city of Derby in the background. In fact, the same view is (mostly) available today, if you’re looking from Holmes Bridge in Derby. This view, named “Long Bridge, 1750,” was originally produced on porcelain at the first (18th-century) Derby porcelain factory on Nottingham Road, and was later also produced at the King Street factory. "The Long Bridge 1750" is the title of an engraving, an example of which is held by the Derby Local Studies Library, and the title is assumed to refer to the date when the engraving was made. The view is sometimes also known as "Derby from The Meadows." This basket is eleven and three-quarters inches long, seven inches across and four and a quarter inches tall. It is in pristine condition, with no damage and no wear, and presents some intriguing puzzles, all tied to the artist and to the factory in which it was painted.
The King Street factory was opened by some of the craftsmen who were put out of work when the 18th-century Derby porcelain factory—on Nottingham Road—closed. There were strong family connections between the two factories. Sampson Hancock, born in 1817, was the grandson of John Hancock, who had been apprenticed during the early years of the Nottingham Road factory. Sampson worked as a decorator there under Robert Bloor into the late 1840s, and he was one of the six founding members, in 1848, of the King Street factory. He assumed control of the King Street business in 1866 and remained as the proprietor until his death in 1898. He was an accomplished flower painter and his signed pieces are much sought by collectors. The King Street factory lasted from 1848 until 1935, when it was bought out by the Royal Crown Derby factory and closed. Here is one of Sampson Hancock’s accounts of the start of the factory: “I succeeded Robert Bloor, transplanting the Nottingham Road works to my present factory—King Street. Six working men employed at the old factory put their wits together and started my works—William Locker, James Hill, Samuel Fearn, Samuel Sharp, John Henson and myself.” Sampson Hancock was the motivating force, but for financial reasons the King Street factory traded as a series of partnerships: Locker & Co., Stevenson Sharp & Co., Stevenson & Hancock; and Sampson Hancock. Sampson Hancock died in 1898, but the business continued under the management of his grandson James Robinson, still using the Sampson Hancock name.
Sampson’s son Henry (Harry) Sampson Hancock, who created this bowl, was also a notable painter at the King Street factory, especially well-known as a flower painter, with quite a number of signed pieces still in existence, cabinet plates in particular. But not many landscape scenes. That’s one unusual point about this basket. Interestingly, this 1750 landscape view had earlier also been painted by his father, Sampson Hancock. Along with this listing I show a large Derby potpourri. The title in red script is "Long Bridge Derby 1750." It bears the mark of Sampson Hancock and can be dated C.1875-80.
But the basket here is dated not 1750, the date of the engraving, but 1850, and the very unusual garter in raised gilding wrapped around the oval scene is undoubtedly meant to be in homage to the early years of the factory started by his father Sampson, when he used a round or oval garter as part of the circular or oval factory mark, and in fact this mark was used throughout the 1850s—exactly corresponding to the date given on the basket itself.
Of course, the basket offered here wasn’t made in 1850. Harry Sampson Hancock wasn’t decorating porcelain then. So this is a memorial piece, created in the 20th century with a deliberately antique flavor, and we can imagine that Harry might have created it in homage to his father Sampson, who had also painted the same scene in his younger days.
This basket is particularly appropriate for those who collect the wares of the King Street factory. It bears a view of Derby, it is by Harry Sampson Hancock, a man who had the strongest family ties to the factory, it incorporates as part of the decoration the garter that symbolized the early years of the factory, and it copies a view done earlier by his own father and other great Derby artists such as Edwin Prince. One can imagine that, in the early 20th century, when Harry painted it, the memory of the early garter mark would have been very familiar within the family, but quite a bit less so to others.
A warm welcome! Please consider all our offerings, and feel free to inquire about more information. We’re always buying, so let us know if you have early porcelain items to sell.