Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre

Susannah Margaretta ‘Daisy’ Makeig-Jones was the designer responsible for Wedgwood’s hugely successful Fairyland range which was produced from the 1920s until Makeig-Jones left the company in 1931.

Makeig-Jones, nicknamed Daisy was first taken on at Wedgwood as an apprentice in 1909 before becoming a designer in 1912. She grew up in rural Yorkshire and her childhood filled with stories of myths and legends is believed to have inspired many of her designs alongside the work of children’s illustrators like Edmund Dulac and Kay Nielson. Her rich colours and gold decoration is representative of old oriental porcelain.

The designs contained beautiful landscapes with mythical creatures such as goblins, ghosts, fairies and elves and were a huge contrast to the more traditional Wedgwood styles of the time but still achieved huge commercial success. Many people believe that the designs appealed to the public’s desire to remember a more innocent age following the horrors of the First World War.

The value of Fairyland Lustre depends largely on the condition of the pieces but earlier examples are more sought after as Daisy Makeig-Jones decorated these herself, before she took on a more supervisory role.

The patterns are characterised by rich gold lustre a technique that used a mixture of metallic oxide pigments suspended in oil and painted onto the surface of earthenware. When the pieces were fired the metal reduced and formed a thin shiny, reflective film with gave an iridescent effect. The technique meant that Fairyland Lustre was very costly to produce and therefore expensive to buy but that didn’t affect its popularity with collectors either at the time or today.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

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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

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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

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

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Clarice Cliff

My wife and I, as is our occasional want, recently spent a weekend in a lovely Yorkshire town, in a “highly rated” Yorkshire hotel. My wife and I love Yorkshire towns and we specially love “highly rated” hotels, not this one though. Fortunately space here is limited so just enough to disagree with “highly” and to say that the purpose of the visit was to assist a dear friend and to value her late father’s Clarice Cliff collection for probate.

Clarice Cliff designs were brightly coloured, geometric patterns that had never been seen before with her first range; ‘Bizarre Ware’ launching in 1928. She painted many of the wares herself but her popularity and success saw the necessity for a team of painters to be trained up by her. This team of women is often referred to as the ‘Bizarre Girls’. As time went on, and their skills in depicting Cliff’s designs increased, they were given a certain amount of free reign and this can be seen in wares where the designs are slightly altered from the original. Examples like this are keenly collected.

Popular patterns include ‘Poplar’, ‘Crocus’ and ‘Coral Firs’, although collectability is defined also by shape, rarity and colour. The colour orange is common while purple is generally rarer. Sugar sifters or honey pots, for example, may be the focus of a collection with the conical sugar sifter launched in 1931 being one of the most iconic designs of Cliff’s career. Alternatively plates, which are relatively cheaper to acquire and show off Cliff’s designs particularly well, may act as a basis for a beginner collector.

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

Beswick Animals

Having recently changed my car from a two seater “sports” model to a five seater estate, I am finding it a mixed blessing. While being much more value on a run to the tip or a visit to the DIY store, it also means it will accommodate more grandchildren. I am not saying this is a bad thing, but it has made driving a less peaceful pastime.

This was the case last weekend, when fully loaded with some of the said grandchildren we set out on the road to Chester zoo. At the zoo, in addition to the animals we also met more grandchildren. I have to say the zoo is amazing. We are not regular zoo attendees, but I think that may change in the future.

Strangely the whole experience made me think of the Beswick factory, the wonderful variety and quality of their animal production and that wonderful man Arthur Gredington who was chief modeller from 1939 to 1957. Thanks to him there is a huge selection of animals to choose from.

Horses, cows and bulls are the most popular, especially the larger more impressive variations. Because of the immense variety collectors tend to concentrate on one particular animal. Some models were only made for a short time and therefore more desirable today, for example the Galloway Bull which was only made from 1963 to 1969. He is available in three versions, with the all black being the rarest and so most prized.

Beswick was eventually sold to Royal Doulton in 1969, but animals marked “Beswick” continued to be made until 1989. They are without doubt a very exciting collectors field.

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

Jackfield Ware

My love of the motor car is well known amongst family, friends and colleagues and my wife has always allowed me this vice as I have no other vices whatsoever……to speak of. At present my favourite car colour is without doubt black. In the late 19th century the Victorians also developed a passion for black, obviously not in the motor car, but in many other things particularly pottery and porcelain.

The rich black pottery known as Jackfield ware was once thought to be a mere imitation of Wedgwood’s grand black basalts, but it does in fact predate this Wedgwood range and is actually one of the many experimental wares to be made at Jackfield, Shropshire as early as 1751.

The earthenware body of Jackfield ware is a brownish red colour achieved by firing red clays at high temperatures. The glaze was achieved by firing cobalt at a high temperature until the deepest blue turned black. The lustrous sheen was partly due to the carbon filled smoke, from the furnaces, being directed back into the kiln to further blacken the earthenware.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

When black glazed wares became popular in the 19th century many imitations were made and these are often mistaken for Jackfield wares. These were often made by staining earthenware black with iron oxide before firing and covering it with a clear glaze. This was a cheep alternative without the style and elegance of Jackfield but which was popular as the Victorian passion for cheap trinkets and ornament saw it made into everything from tea pots to plant pots.

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

Chelsea Porcelain

The Chelsea Factory was established sometime between 1743 and 1745 by Nicholas Sprimont. Sprimont’s background as a silversmith is evident in many of the Chelsea designs, particularly the early pieces. He ran a hugely successful and innovative company until 1769 when he sold to William Duesbury of the Derby Porcelain factory who maintained Chelsea until 1784, producing what is commonly referred to as Chelsea-Derby ware. In 1784, the Chelsea workshops were demolished with the majority of the moulds destroyed and a few removed to Derby along with some of the workers.

Chelsea Porcelain is very clearly divided into four periods defined by the marks used. The first period; the triangle period (1745-49) saw pieces marked with an incised triangle. Wares from this period have a glassy white body due to a proportion of crushed lead glass in the soft paste that can appear to have ‘pinholes’ in it when held to the light. Designs tended to be based on silver work with particular Rococo influence.

By the raised anchor period (1749-52) marked with an applied anchor on a small oval medallion, there had been some improvement in the quality of the glaze with less translucency. Many designs had a Meissen influence and scenes from Aesop’s Fables were popular. A small red or occasionally brown anchor defined the Red anchor period (1752-56) which saw fashions favour decorative tableware with designs such as fruit, animals and vegetables becoming popular. Figures from this period are particularly notable; the best produced by Flemish modeller Josef Willems. Finally the Gold anchor period (1757-69) where the small anchor was now painted gold saw an increased use of gilding and coloured grounds, the return to Rococo designs and many more elaborate figures produced.

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

Toby Jugs

Many years ago, before the motor car, electricity and Strictly Come Dancing there lived a man called Henry Elwes. Henry, even amongst his closest friends, had a reputation for being miserable. He was a short, fat man with dirty lanky hair and he held a record for drinking two thousand pints of Stingo. Stingo was very strong ale, but unfortunately there are no records to say how long it took Henry to drink all those pints. It matters not, however, how long it took, the mere fact it was drunk gave Henry Elwes the nickname Toby Fillpot.

There are many claims to the origin of the Toby jug, but one of the most convincing is that it is based on poor old Toby Fillpot. This is further backed by the work of a publisher Carington Bowles, who in 1761 published illustrations of a short, fat miserable man with lanky hair poking from a tricorn hat and titled him Toby Fillpot. A few years later Toby Jugs began to emerge from pottery factories.

Shakespeare’s Sir Toby Belch from “Twelfth Night”, who in the play is portrayed as an excessive drinker, is thought by some to be the source of the famous jug, but he just doesn’t have the portly misery of Mr Fillpot.

As time passed and more jugs were made, the grim face of Toby cheered up a little, particularly in examples like “The Sailor” and “Hearty Good Fellow”. The name, though, stuck, even when famous faces such as Winston Churchill appeared on these jugs, they remained Toby Jugs.

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

Wemyss Ware

Wemyss ware was first produced by the Fife pottery in Kirkcaldy, Fife, in 1882 and was the invention of Robert Heron, pottery owner and Karel Nekola, a gifted designer from Bohemia. The name comes from the Wemyss family of Wemyss castle who were very enthusiastic patrons of the new wares.

In 1932 production moved to Bovey Pottery in Devon and under the direction of Joseph Nekola, Karel’s son, they continued to make Wemyss ware until the pottery’s closure in 1957.

Wemyss took inspiration from the British countryside with very naturalistic designs including flowers, fruit, birds and animals. They are probably most famous for the cabbage rose designs and the range of cat and pig figures. Although the pottery was successful in its day, popularity has been cemented by collectors, who included the Queen Mother, with rare examples of Wemyss ware realising very high prices at auction.

The pigs are a particular favourite of collectors with some being more prized and so more expensive to acquire. The larger pigs, up to 45cms, are very sought after and the green shamrocks and the cabbage rose decorations are the most desirable.

The pigs were designed for children’s nurseries in wealthy stately homes, being sold exclusively by Thomas Goode in Mayfair. A whole range were produced; some had slots for money, some were personalised with dates and names, some were small paperweight sized and of course some much larger. The bright, bold and colourful designs stood out against a stark white background, making these enchanting pigs very appealing to the eye.

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