Sunderland lustre (luster and lusterware in North America) is a general name given to a type of pottery with a pink lustre glaze made by a number of potteries in the 19th century including Leeds, Newcastle, Liverpool, Bristol and Swansea but principally and most famously by a number of potteries in the Sunderland and Wear area. The wares produced are also called Sunderland pink, pink lustre and even purple lustre.
The ‘colour was originally derived from and tin powdered compound known as purple or cassius’ 1. Adding lustre to pottery was not a new method and examples of the lustring technique can be seen in wares from the middle east in the 9th and 10th century. Wedgwood used the technique on their Moonlight Lustre from 1805 to 1815 and later on their famous Fairyland lustre pieces in the 1920s.
According to Michael Gibson 2 and The Sunderland Site 3 there were 16 potteries in Sunderland of which 7 are known to have produced lustrewares. These seven potteries also produced items under multiple names and include: Garrison Pottery; Dixon & Co; Dixon Phillips & Co; Dixon & Austin; Anthony Scott & Co.; Anthony Scott & Sons; Ball, William; Dawson, John; Dawson & Co.; Dawson’s Pottery; Dawson’s Low Ford Pottery; Thomas Dawson & Co.; Deptford Pottery; Dixon & Co.; Dixon Austin & Co.; Dixon, Austin, Phillips & Co.; Dixon, Phillips & Co.; Dixon, Robert; Garrison Pottery; Hylton Pot Works; Maling, William (the Maling Pottery was established at North Hylton, near Sunderland, in 1762 but moved to the Newcastle area in 1817); Messrs. Dawson & Co.; S. Moore & Co.; Moore’s Pottery; North Hylton Pottery; Olde Sanders Low Ford Pottery; Phillips & Co.; Scott Brothers & Co.; Scott’s Pottery; Snowball, Thomas; Southwick Pottery; The Sunderland Pottery; Thomas Snowball’s High Southwick Pottery;and the Wear Pottery. Many Sunderland lustre pieces are often difficult to attribute as they were unmarked.
The pink lustre was that associated with Sunderland was added to many gift items such jugs, mugs, chamber pots, and wall plaques and often decorated with black transfer prints. A large number of items were commerorative wares and gifts for sailors and featured many repeated scenes including: the Wearmouth bridge, Ironbridge, symbols of Freemansonry, the Sailor’s Farewell and the Sailor’s Return, and countless sailing ships. Other items with lustre include watch-stands, rolling-pins, puzzle-jugs, frog mugs and carpet bowls.
Sunderland Lustre and Pottery Reference
1 Collecting for Pleasure China introduced by Tony Curtis
2 19th Century Lustreware by Michael Gibson
3 The Sunderland Site – a really excellent web reference on the industrial history of Sunderland with a number of pages devoted to Sunderland Pottery.