Zelli Porcelain

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By Payne & Son Jewellers and Zelli Porcelain | Friday, November 23, 2012, 15:18


relocated to Royal Tunbridge Wells in 2011, Zelli Porcelain can boast the

largest collection of fine German and European porcelain in the south east. Mr

Mike Starkie, proprietor, has been

collecting porcelain for many years and when it was time for Penelope Higham to retire, he gladly took hold of the



actually started life as a chocolate shop. Victor and Pearl Zelli had taken a

short lease in the Burlington Arcade when a chance request from a customer was to change

their lives. AT the time, hardly any fine porcelain was available in this

country. Most manufacturers were and still are based in Germany. One

day, a customer happened to ask Victor if he would help him to obtain a

Rosenthal porcelain sea lion. Victor obliged and the resulting £4.16.0 in the

till, rather than the customary 1/3d for humbugs or truffles, opened his eyes to

the potential of re-introducing European porcelain back into Britain. Over

the next 38 years, Zelli's stock grew into a unique showcase for the finest

continental manufacturers as well as sculptures by countless individual artists.

By 1990, Zelli moved to Dover

Street when Victor retired. Penelope Higham bought the business from him having

worked with him for 23 years, and later moved to Chiltern Street.


that glance into Zelli are blown away by what they discover. Forget the common

prejudice that porcelain personifies simpering shepherdesses and sentimental

knick knacks. Everything at Zelli is an exquisite work of art. Every piece is

handmade out of the purest porcelain. Many from over a hundred different moulds

that are fettled, glazed and fired several nail biting times. The diversity on

display is simply astounding. Yes, traditional Dresden shepherdess are on display, but so are more

contemporary pieces – stalking tigers, art nouveau ladies, white Meissen stags,

and state-of-the-art abstract sculptures. Zelli is the only gallery in the world

to display to display work from all six of porcelain manufacturers.  



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