Antiques Roadshow expert in awe of Clarice Cliff mask with ‘magical’ history

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Antiques Roadshow took a trip to the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth for a previous episode of the hit BBC show. Antiques expert Steven Moore was in awe when one guest brought a unique Clarice Cliff mask onto the programme. The owner revealed the mask had a special history within her family.

Holding the mask up to viewers, Steven said: “Looking at this mask closely I can see two names.

“We’ve got a name most people know, Clarice Cliff. But, there’s also this other name here modelled by Esme M Bailey.

“You can tell me who that is can’t you?” He asked the owner.

She replied: “Yes, that is my mother in fact. She was 18 when she modelled this.

“She went to art college and her father, my grandfather, had a shop in Bristol which sold Clarice Cliff wares.

“So, she was taken up to Stoke-On-Trent for about two weeks and went to Clarice Cliff’s workshop and was given a lump of clay and said ‘Get on and make something’.

“She made four masks and then came back home and about two or three weeks later it arrived back with the other three,” the owner explained.

However, she confessed her mother wasn’t impressed with the masks when she saw their finished look for the first time.

The owner revealed: “Mum looked at them in the box and thought they were awful because of the bright colours.

“She thought the colours were so garish, she just didn’t like them,” she added, explaining that Clarice Cliff had chosen the final colours.

“What happened to the ones Clarice Cliff sent?” Steven asked.

“Mum put them in a jumble sale,” the owner confessed.

Keen to know more, Steve remarked: “Your mum must have been quite a groovy lady to be given I suppose what we would call an internship today with Clarice Cliff, who was really at that time very famous and very fashionable.”

After hearing how the masks had previously been sold in a jumble sale, Steve asked: “How come you’ve got this one?”

The owner explained her mother has always regretted not keeping the masks.

Speaking further about her mother, the owner said: “In 1998 she had a phone call from a friend saying one of the masks was in an auction.

“So, my brothers and myself said ‘You’ve got to go down, you’ve got to buy it, no matter what it costs’,” she said.

“What did she pay?” Steve asked, with the owner replying: “£1,000.”

Steve commented: “Well, I think £1,000 is a fair price. But, how can you put money on those memories?”

The owner agreed: “Not at all, you can’t. It’s just so magical really.”

“That’s a very magical special object,” Steve added, before thanking the owner for bringing the mask in.

Antiques Roadshow is available on BBC iPlayer.

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