Collecting Articles and Features

Sunderland Lustreware and Sunderland Pottery

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.

A Dixon Austin & Co Sunderland Pottery Large Jug ironbridge
A Dixon, Austin & Co Sunderland Pottery Large Jug, circa 1820, printed with A West View of the Cast Iron Bridge over the Wear at Sunderland … and The Sailor`s Farewell after Drowning and religious verse on a marbled pink lustre ground within line borders, marked in Sailor`s Farewell print, 25cm high. Sold for £750 at Tennants Auctioneers, July 2010.

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.

sunderland lustre wall plaques
A Collection of Sunderland Pink Lustre Pottery Wall Plaques, including two religious rectangular, unmarked a figures in landscape “Waverley” design rectangular plaque by S. Moor & Co Sunderland with printed marks. An unmarked circular portrait plaque “He that Beleveth shall be Saved” Adam Clarke Wesleyan Minister, and two plaques by Dixon & Company, Sunderland, one rectangular with Eastern scene and a circular “Thou God Seest Me” wall plaque. Sold for £520 at Peter Francis Auctioneers, January 2011.

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.

Sunderland Lustre Wall Plaque featuring Northumberland ship
A Sunderland lustre wall plaque featuring ship and text reading Northumberland 74. Sold for £60 on ebay, March 2017.

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 jug with Sunderland Bridge
A Sunderland lustreware jug, mid 19th century, printed and painted with a view of the Sunderland Bridge inscribed Hylton Pottery, a verse starting “Say if No More In Converse Sweet” and a sailor’s farewell scene inscribed “The Order Given, The signal gun is fir’d”, chipped spout, 20.5cm. Sold for £50 at Lawrences Auctioneers, July 2016.

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.

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