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

Breakfast Wares

My father always ate Cornflakes for breakfast. As a young boy I always looked on this as a sign of manhood and vowed to grow up a strong, Cornflake eating man. Sleeping over at a friends one night I remember appearing at the breakfast table to discover his father eating Rice Krispies. He was never the same man in my eyes after that and my friendship with his son soon waned.

In 1894 Dr John Kellogg, who ran a sanatorium, by accident created the corn flake as he attempted to improve the diet of his patients. A patent was applied for that same year and the flakes of corn became so popular that Dr John’s brother Will Keith Kellogg set up the Kellogg Company to produce Corn Flakes and sell to the general public.

In 1906 Will and John fell out over sugar which Will wanted to put in the Cornflakes. Sadly, this led to a life time rift and the success of the company was left to Will Kellogg.

The Cornflake craze didn’t happen overnight, but by the 1930s a change in breakfasting habits was definitely happening. The great British public now required new ceramics to enjoy the first meal of a new day. Cereal bowls, toast racks, teapots and for the lucky ones, all on a tray to be served in bed.

These breakfast wares are popular collectors items today. Look for investable designers like Clarice Cliff and Susie Cooper and the rarer the pattern, the more exciting the purchase.

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

Clarice Cliff

Over the years I have touched more than once on a wonderful designer called Clarice Cliff. I have, I am sure said rare shapes, rare patterns and rare colours are by far the most expensive of her products. I have also said that the mundane pieces never attract a great deal of interest. However, I have never really discussed Clarice herself. What an amazing woman she was. Unlike her four sisters Sara, Hannah, Dorothy and Ethel, Clarice had a goal for herself and she was determined to achieve it.

At the age of 17, due to a shortage of workers caused by the First World War, Clarice Cliff began a job as an apprentice lithographer with the A J Wilkinson factory in Burslem. Here she began to learn the techniques of modelling, gilding and decorating. The girls who worked with Clarice at this time recalled that she was never really one of them. When they left for home Clarice stayed behind practicing and modelling because she regarded her work as more than just a job. For a female to become a designer in the 1920’s was really unheard of and it was largely due to her incredibly strong personality, amazing talent and her association with one of the Shorter brothers who owned the factory.

When the brothers purchased Newport Pottery, the adjoining factory to their own, Colley Shorter quickly recognised Clarice Cliffs talents. He became her protector, her sponsor, and her lover. By 1927 he had set her up in her own small studio and on 21st December 1940 he married her.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

For more information or if you have similar items, please get in touch with us, full details can be found on our company website