Spode

Spode was established in 1776 in Stoke-on-Trent by Josiah Spode who wanted to set up on his own after years of working for other ceramic manufacturers. Spode is generally acknowledged as developing the first recipe for bone china. Experiments were taking place in the Spode factory from around 1796 to create fine white porcelain with a recipe containing high quantities of calcined ox-bone alongside china clay and stone; originally known as ‘Stoke China’ it was later renamed ‘Bone China’.

Josiah died suddenly in 1797 and his son, Josiah II continued his work, establishing the factory as the largest and one of the best porcelain manufacturers of the early 19th century ‘Golden Age’ of British ceramics. This included being appointed ‘Potter to the Prince of Wales’ in 1806.

As well as being recognized as creating the original bone china recipe, Spode is also highly acclaimed for the part they played in the development of transfer printing in its early days. Josiah II perfected the process of transfer printing onto earthenware, producing some of the finest blue-and-white designs ever made. Their most famous pattern is probably ‘Italian’, also known as ‘Blue Italian’ or ‘Spode’s Italian’.

The Italian pattern was first introduced in 1816 and is still produced today; it is believed to have appeared on as many as 700 different shapes across the Spode range. The origins of the classical scenes of the pattern are, unfortunately for collectors, unknown. Although many of Spode’s designs can be sourced back to pictorial scenes or prints of the time, the origins of the Italian pattern remain a mystery and despite research by many interested parties, no single Italian scene has ever been found that encompasses all the features of the pattern.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Swansea Porcelain

William Billingsley was a name to conjure with in the porcelain world in the late 18th and early 19th century. He flittered around from one factory to another and even tried to start a few of his own, never being very successful. His claim to fame however is his recipe for soft paste porcelain. This produced some of the finest quality porcelain of the 19th century, particularly at Swansea, a factory he was associated with between 1814 and 1817.

Swansea pieces were made from Billingsley’s highly translucent soft-paste porcelain that was unfortunately extremely delicate and subject to high losses in the firing process. The challenge was to strengthen the mixture used to produce the porcelain without reducing the pure whiteness and translucency. There have been three general mixtures identified, all which suffered some issues in the kiln. The first was very similar to the recipe for Bone China but mixed with Blue Clay or Lime, giving it a slight green tinge and the name ‘Duck Egg’, the second following a very similar recipe but with a hand fritted body is described as ‘Glassy’. The third recipe, and probably the most robust of the three, included a higher soapstone content giving a translucency with a yellowish colour, it is referred to as ‘Trident’ largely due to the impressed mark that most Trident pieces carry.

Swansea porcelain was renowned for its elegant and high quality painting, regularly receiving commissions from members of the aristocracy. Many of the designs were inspired from the fashionable French style with flowers being a particular favourite often with gilt detail and borders. Painters such as David Evans, Thomas Pardoe and William Pollard were employed specifically for their excellence in flower designs.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Chintzware

Because of the name’s similarity to the Brothers Grimm, Grimwades Ltd. always makes me think of children’s fairytales, but it is in fact the trade name for Royal Winton, which was based at the Winton Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent and was established in 1885.

The company manufactured a diverse range of tableware and decorative designs in moulded earthenware, including lamp bases, candlesticks and dressing table sets. However it was their Chintzware range of the 1930’s that caught the imagination of the collector and that is what Royal Winton is renowned for today. The pretty, affordable tableware was decorated with all-over floral patterns and produced in large quantities. Chintzware is desirable worldwide with breakfast sets and stacking tea sets being particularly popular with collectors.

There were a multitude of different designs within the Chintzware range, but “Hazel”, “Julia” and “Sweet Pea” are among the most collectable with teapots, biscuit barrels and hot water jugs being popular shapes. Restoration is unacceptable in Chintzware so it is vital to check for damage, cracks and fading as this significantly affects the price. The base of Royal Winton features an impressed mark (for shape), the company mark and a transfer printed mark of the pattern.

The “Sweet Pea” pattern, introduced in 1936, is highly sought after today. It was designed with a pale yellow or chrome tallow ground and a gold or deep blue trim enclosing pink and blue flowers. The flowers are particularly prone to fading and can appear greyish in colour.

Always remember that the value of Chintzware lies in the crisp, clear pattern, the irregular shapes and most importantly the condition.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

The D’Oyly Cartes

Like many people, my wife and I are members of the National Trust. Also, I am sure, like many people we have our favourite houses and one of those is Coleton Fishacre, near Dartmouth in Devon. Having recently seen a collection of D’Oyly Carte ephemera on a probate valuation I was involved in, Coleton Fishacre and it’s wonderful garden came flooding back to my mind.

It was Richard D’Oyly Carte (1844-1901) who started the D’Oyly ball rolling. He was the impresario behind Gilbert and Sullivan and it was he who founded the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. He also built the Savoy Theatre (the first to be fully electric) and opened the Savoy Hotel in the 1880s.

However, it was Rupert, Richard’s son, who after succeeding his father as chairman of the Savoy Hotel Company in 1903 at the tender age of 27, built Coleton Fishacre in the 1920s.

The house was a breath of fresh air to the D’Oyly Cartes, compared to the fast paced London life they lived during the week. Every Friday they came to Coleton where they sailed, fished, swam, played tennis and rode horses. A perfect weekend cottage getaway, only a slightly larger than average scale.

Sadly the D’Oyly Cartes son Michael was killed in a car crash and the couple never really recovered, eventually drifting apart. Their daughter Bridget, as Rupert’s only surviving child, inherited Coleton Fishacre, the Opera Company and the hotel empire.

Bridget successfully managed the businesses for many years and became a Dame of the British Empire in 1975, dying in 1985. D’Oyly Carte memorabilia is not a common sight in the salerooms and it’s appearance always creates a buzz from specialist collectors. Keep your eyes open.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website

Keith Murray

Individual designers were always important and often vital to the continued success of a porcelain factory. This was the case with Keith Murray and the Wedgwood factory.

Wedgwood approached Keith Murray in 1932 offering him a position as a designer in their company. Born in Auckland in 1892, he had emigrated to England in the early 1900s with his parents. He was trained as an architect, which gave him an excellent eye for design and form, and had been working for Powell & Sons’ Whitefriars Glassworks and then the British Glassmakers Stevens & Williams before Wedgwood eagerly took him on board. His first range for Wedgwood came out in 1933 and he designed for them with huge success during the 1930s and 40s. Although few of his pieces were produced in the 1950s and 60s, he remained a consultant for Wedgwood until 1969.

Murray’s designs are now iconic and to many he is considered one of the pioneers of the Art Deco style. He produced designs that were very simple; they were bold, modernist pieces produced with clean lines where form was integral to decoration, clearly drawing from his architectural training and his belief that good design should show common sense. A large number of designs included the ribbing or fluting effects which became a signature style of his.

Murray designed pieces primarily in green, moonstone (white), straw yellow and blue. Blue is a particularly desirable colour, although this colour was often glazed unevenly so good, even examples realise the highest prices but black basalt is by far the rarest and most sought after colour he worked with. He worked with three glazes; matt, semi-matt and celadon satin and almost all of his work was marked with a backstamp; there is both a ‘KM’ mark and a signature mark used.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items you’re thinking about offering items in auction or you simply would like a valuation, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website