By Louise Irvine

Arthur Wiener’s interest in collecting Royal Doulton began in 1965 when he chanced upon a character jug of Merlin, the magician, in a London curio shop window. Arthur was a young college graduate on his first trip to England, armed with Frommer’s classic guidebook Europe on $5 a Day. He blew his daily budget on his purchase as he was intrigued by the Star of David symbol on the handle of the character jug.

The symbol on the handle of the Merlin character jug is intriguing. The London shopkeeper told Arthur that the legendary Merlin was Jewish, which proved to be a successful sales ploy, albeit somewhat far-fetched. However, our research reveals that, in fact, there is a Hebrew version of the Arthurian legend written in northern Italy in 1279 in which an anonymous scribe Judaized the story. Despite this Judaic link, it seems more likely that the Royal Doulton sculptor, Gary Sharpe, confused the Star of David hexagram symbol with the pentagram, a five-pointed star, which is more usually associated with Merlin.

Merlin certainly cast a spell on Arthur, as this acquisition led to his lifelong passion for collecting. Arthur went on to build the largest collection of Royal Doulton art pottery in the world. In 1996, he acquired a rare prototype version of Merlin with a flambé glaze. He also added the Minton figure of the great enchanter from Arthurian legend together with King Arthur and Guinevere.

Over the years, Arthur’s interests have expanded to include British and European pottery and porcelain from the 1800s to the present day. He also fell in love with Ardmore Ceramic Art from South Africa and contemporary American studio glass, notably the work of Dale Chihuly, which he now shares with a wide audience through WMODA.

Read more about Arthur Wiener

Founder & Benefactor – Arthur Wiener

 The Wiener Legacy at WMODA

Read more about the Arthurian Legend at WMODA

Merlin’s Magic