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

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

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

Cornish Kitchenware

We have a number of grandchildren. Some of these grandchildren are on the Wirrall and last weekend we visited said locality and said grandchildren. I think it is fair to say that we love to see them so, so much, but with equal measure we love to say goodbye. It was between these two emotional events that I noticed my daughter still uses and displays the collection of Cornish Kitchenware jars we gave her.

True Cornishware was produced by T.G. Green of Church Gresley in Derbyshire from the 1920s onwards. The name is said to have come from one of the employees who, on returning from holiday in Cornwall, saw the new range and said that the blue was like the Cornish skies and the white was like crests of Cornish waves.

By the 1980s Cornishware had declined in popularity and the rights to make it were sold to Cloverleaf of Swindon and in 2001 to Mason Cash and Co.

Maker’s marks on the base aid identification and dating. Early marks from the 1920-1940s are printed in green. Most original Cornishware bears a printed mark in green or black, showing the church at Church Gresley and is crossed by the words ‘Cornish Kitchen Ware’.

Named jars are more collectable than plain jars and rare names like ‘Lard’ and ‘Meal’ are even more desirable. Always check the name is not a later addition. Although blue and white is the most common colour others were produced. Red is by far the rarest, because it was produced as an experiment in the 1960s and never went into full production.

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

Keith Murray and Wedgwood

As a boy my love for the auction room and the pull of the family business was never in doubt. If I had a fallback position, however, it would have been racing driver or architect.

Keith Murray was an architect. He was born in New Zealand. His father was Scottish and had travelled to New Zealand to meet his mother Lillian. The family came to England when Keith was 14 and seven years later he graduated from the London School of Architecture.

Originally work was slow, so Murray began illustrating for magazines. In the early 1930s he designed for Stevens and Williams and his designs were noticed by Wedgwood. Wedgwood were at that time recruiting designers to inspire their production and revitalise their flagging turnover.

In the 1930s Keith Murray designed for Wedgwood for two or three months a year. His designs, although slow to get started, were a triumph. This was largely due to the excellent combination of Murray’s sleek styles and the matt glazes developed by Norman Wilson, Wedgwood’s works manager at the time. The range of vases and bowls were hand thrown and featured incised horizontal fluting or banding. They were glazed in plain matt colours including, the most popular, blues and greens.

Other popular Murray items include the bronze coloured tobacco jar and the rare black basalt coffee set. Collectors just love the undecorated, simple shape Murray is famous for and they fit so well with today’s minimalist styles.

Sadly for the world of ceramics, after World War Two Keith Murray went back to his architecture.

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

Belleek

My wife was born in Ireland, what other reason do I need to love the wonderful porcelain that came from the Belleek factory.

The Belleek porcelain factory in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland was established in the village of Belleek in the late 1850s by three men. John Caldwell Bloomfield, to whom the land had been left, and two businessmen Robert William Armstrong, an architect from London with an interest in ceramics, and a trader from Dublin, David McBirney. As well as local workers and apprentices the partners hired fourteen experienced men from Stroke-on-Trent.

The partners always wanted to make fine porcelain, but the early pieces to come out of the factory were items such as floor tiles and tableware. However, following a few failed attempts they succeeded in making a certain amount of parian by 1863. Belleek is popular for it’s parian wares. They did not decorate the pieces with transfer printing or painting but instead used lustre glazes to enhance the cream colour of the porcelain itself. The intricate baskets produced by the factory are some of the most popular items with collectors.

By 1865 the company already had a growing market in Ireland and England and was beginning to export items further afield to the United States and elsewhere. Queen Victoria was even a customer. The company exhibited in parian porcelain at the Dublin Exposition of 1872. Items displayed included statues, busts and centrepieces.

Although the factory is still in operation today, it is still the early pieces that collectors crave.

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

Duesbury Derby

The other night I was examining a scar on my nose, which sadly is plenty large enough to accommodate a meaningful one, and the shape of the scar reminded me of a Derby porcelain pattern. This set my mind to thinking of that wonderful Duesbury Derby period in the factory’s history.

It all began in 1786 when William Duesbury the younger succeeded his father and steered the factory through its best and most significant period. The young William was a multi talented man. He possessed a wonderful eye and an enviable appreciation of the artistic, but almost as important were his very effective managerial skills. Production was aimed at only the wealthiest customers with every piece finished to the very highest standard.

Derby specialised in cabinet wares, particularly cups and saucers or cabaret sets (too expensive to use and produced simply to be admired). Derby’s glaze was creamy white and very soft, producing a delightful and subtle feeling, unlike other English porcelain. Consequently the demand for Derby of this period today is higher than many other porcelains.

The decoration in panels or reserves was created by some superb artists including Zachariah Boreman and Thomas Hill focused on landscapes, Richard Askew famous for figures and William Billingsley, the greatest of all English flower painters. Derby rediscovered the charm of botanical designs and flower prints were also copied onto dessert services.

Sadly William Duesbury died far to soon, at only 34, but he left a factory which had become one of the finest in Europe.

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

Goldscheider Figurines

Last weekend’s sunny Sunday found me lying on my deck chair, my eyes closed and listening to the soothing sounds of birds singing and bees buzzing, along with the gentle ‘clip, clip’ of my wife’s hedge cutting endeavours. My thoughts turned, as they so often do in similar settings, to Goldscheider figures.

The Goldscheider Porcelain Manufacturer and Majolica Factory was founded in Vienna in 1885 by Freidrich Goldscheider. It quickly earned itself international acclaim becoming one of the leading ceramics companies in Europe opening branches in Paris, Florence, Leipzig and Berlin. Freidrich worked with his sons Walter and Marcell who would later move to America and England respectively to continue expanding the business after Hilter’s regime forced the family to flee Austria in 1938.

The Goldscheider factories are probably the most well known of the potteries who made the beautiful Art Deco figurines that were so popular in the 1920s and 30s. The figurines depicted elegant, slim-lined and fashionable ladies typically displayed in movement, whether it was mid-dance, an acrobatic stance or simply a sweeping gesture, with dramatic curves that allowed their flowing dresses and sleeves to produce eye-catching, decorative features for the pieces.

Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse

The large flat areas of the extended dresses, scarves or sleeves were decorated with intricate, colourful designs that contrasted with the light, porcelain-like skin tones of the women. A high quality of detail and skill in the artwork as well as a characterful and appealing face all add value to these figurines. Erotic subjects are particularly popular. Damage or poor restoration can dramatically reduce desirability and thus value.

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