Two valuable pieces of Ealing Council's Martinware collection, including a two-sided 'barrister jug', have been returned to the London borough after having been stolen more than a decade ago.
The jug, depicting a barrister's face, was found after a distinctive "Wally Bird" Martinware piece which was also stolen from the council's collection, was spotted on eBay last year.
Martinware is stoneware pottery designed by the four Martin Brothers, who lived and worked in Southall, between the 1870s and 1920s. The barrister jug was a distinctive Martin Brothers design that dates back to the early 1900s. Some of the most sought after Martinware pieces have sold at auction for as much as £193,000.
According to Zurich Insurance, the two pieces recently returned are worth a combined six-figure sum.
Working with the police, Art Recovery International, a number of expert and auction house, the council managed to eventually recover the items. They have now been returned to the council's collection of Martinware pottery housed at Southall Library, Ealing.
The artefacts were part of an insurance claim settled shortly after the incidents occurred.
Zurich, the insurance company involved, decided to waive the requirement for the original settlement to be paid back as a gesture to the council and people of Ealing.
Manny Manoharan, Libraries & Community Centres Service Manager at Ealing Borough Council said: "We were so pleased that the Martinware was recovered. That Zurich decided to waive the requirement for the original settlement to be paid back as a gesture to the council and people of Ealing was very generous. It is greatly appreciated, and I thank Zurich for making it."
Paul Redington, a Regional Major Loss Manager within Zurich's Property Expert team, commented: "Ealing are a valued Zurich customer and effectively gifting back the Wally Bird and jug to the community in this way seemed like the only right thing to do for us.
Mr Redington added: “We fully appreciate the difficult situation our public sector customers find themselves in, not just due to challenges around arts and culture budgets, but also the Coronavirus pandemic has deprived many of them of additional income. But most importantly, precious artefacts like this should be enjoyed by local communities, and we are delighted that two pieces of the important Southall Martinware collection are back where they truly belong."