James Baird, of the Foreign Office, was a private collector and friend of Eric Maclagan, Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum. The Museum’s archive records that in August 1919 he offered to loan early Chinese pottery and porcelain to the V&A, as he was letting his house, 37 Queen’s Gate, SW, for the winter. Bernard Rackham described the collection as consisting of “some 50 or 60 pieces of Sung dynasty porcelain (Chun yao, Ting ware of the very finest quality, Kinuba celadon and one ‘oil-spotted’ Temmoku bowl) and a Ming blanc de chine figure of Kuan Yin of great refinement”. He recommended the loan (minute 8 August 1919, Rackham to Director), on the grounds that “the museum is poor in first-rate specimens of these classes since the withdrawal of the Eumorfopoulos and Alexander loans”, adding “Mr Baird is wealthy, interested in the Museum and in Mr Maclagan’s opinion quite likely, if well treated to become a benefactor. It is not impossible that he might let us have for good one or two pieces from the collection”. Initially he loaned 29 pieces of early Chinese pottery and porcelain (Song lavendar glaze, celadon, white and jian ware, 2 white porcelain figures including a Ming blanc de chine, and 2 Tang figures). These and subsequent loans were displayed in the Loan Court beside similar items from other private collectors. Baird gave a Ming stoneware vase and stand in 1922, but the loan was recalled in August 1923, and returned to his new address at Balfour Cottage, Balfour Mews, South Street, Mayfair.
Baird was an active buyer from Bluett & Sons in the 1920s, when he was living at Westbourne Terrace Road, London W.2. A group of his pieces were offered for sale by Bluetts in 1926.
V&A Archive, James Baird Nominal File, MA/1/B138