Could this be one of the biggest Blue John vases ever made?

Sotheby’s in New York are selling a Blue John vase which is 48.3 cm (19 inches) tall. It comes with an equally large auction estimate of $150,000 – $250,000.  That’s £97,000 – £162,000!

CIRCA 1815

It belongs to Princeton University and is attributed to James Shore who also made the large tazza at Chatsworth House. It is thought that the largest Blue John vase ever made is in the Geological Museum in London (now the Natural History Museum).

However things aren’t quite that simple and there is much confusion, mystery and rumour surrounding these large pieces. You can find out more about the mysteries of the crude engravings, later modifications and mismeasurements by reading Trevor D. Ford’s article ‘The largest blue john vases ever made’.

Like all good stories it leaves us with the tantalising thought that there was possibly an even bigger vase that has now been lost in the mists of time.

Ford’s article has flagged up another anomaly.  Written in 1992 it states that Princeton University have a large Blue John urn – so far so good.  But the auction provenance for the Princeton vase says that it passed through Sotheby’s sale room in 1985 and 2004.  So did Princeton buy it in 1985? Sell it somewhere else and then buy it back in 2004?  Or did they originally have two of them?  If so, could one have been the long lost largest vase?

 The mystery continues….

Latest News – the vase sold on 27th January for $338,500.  Eek!


8 Responses to Could this be one of the biggest Blue John vases ever made?

  1. Oh and I should have probably mentioned that we are not going to put a bid in on it!

  2. Trevor Drury says:

    We Have a pair of Blue Jouhn vases each is 7 inches high any offeres

  3. Hello Trevor,
    Thanks for the message. We are currently only interested in purchasing Blue John pieces that are signed and can be attributed to a specific maker. Do yours have any markings on them? If you think they might be of interest to us then if you send me a photo I can circulate it round to my colleagues on the project.

    Otherwise if you’re keen to sell anyway, then these auction results from Bamfords in Derby should give you idea of what they might be worth –


  4. Ted Shore says:

    If anyone has information relating to James Shore, I’d appreciate it if you could contact me.

  5. Hello Ted,

    We don’t know much about James Shore…. I have got most of my information about Shore and his vase from Trevor D. Ford’s article and from his book ‘Derbyshire Blue John’ (2005). In this book Ford says, ‘Little is known of James Shore, except that he claimed to have made the largest Blue John vase in 1815’.

    I don’t know if he is listed in any of the Trade Directories or the Censuses?

    Is he an ancestor of yours?


  6. Chris says:

    This will need to be followed up but I visited Windsor Castle two years ago and I am pretty sure there was an enormous Blue John vase at the end of one of the galleries. It stood at least five feet tall!
    Not sure if it was fashioned from one piece. I think it was too heavy to move in the fire but I don’t think it was very much damaged.

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