John Gilroy’s iconic artwork, designs and influence for the Guinness advertising campaigns, from 1928 to the 1960s, are still current today and the original Guinness posters are very collectable. John Gilroy was responsible for some of the most famous advertising campaigns in history and helped turn around the fortunes of Guinness in the late 1920s where a worldwide depression had seen flattening sales and a urgent need to reach new markets and increase sales. The Guinness company engaged S.H. Benson’s advertising agency, and artist John Gilroy was assigned to the account. The rest is advertising history. John Gilroy’s creative and colourful artwork and memorable taglines were responsible for Guinness advertising campaigns such as “Guinness for Strength,” “Guinness is Good For You” and “My Goodness, My Guinness.” The Guinness poster was created and ‘that fans still adorn their walls with this poster today is a testament to the creative relationship between Gilroy and Guinness.’ One of the most memorable was born of his creative interpretation of a performing sea lion that caught his eye at the zoo. That animal, Gilroy mused, would be smart enough to balance a glass of Guinness on its nose. The Official Guinness website. Gilroy’s indelible designs and campaigns included: a hapless zookeeper in situations with various animals such as a lion, kangaroo and a sea-lion (My Goodness, My Guinness campaign); men performing feats of strength powered by Guinness such lifting carts and girders (Guinness For Strength campaign); and the famous Guinness toucan. The hapless zookeeper, a caricature of Gilroy himself, presented the family of unruly animals. From an ostrich swallowing a Guinness, glass and all, to a pelican with a beak full of bottles. A bounding lion, a thieving bear. A crocodile, kangaroo, and penguin. And, of course, most famous of all, the toucan. This evolved, via the toucan, into the “Guinness-a-day” campaign. The Official Guinness website. There is a growing market for Guinness posters in a premium condition.
England`s West Country has long been a honey pot for collectors and admirers of pottery – in the 1900s souvenir hunters collected those brown and cream jugs from the likes of Watcombe and Aller Vale, bearing strange mottoes in dialect such as ‘Go aisy wi` it now’. No doubt, at the time, these pieces were as strange and dramatic to those used to seeing fine Wedgwood porcelain, as Troika was to seventies folk reared on a diet of Meakin and Midwinter. Potteries such as Tintagel, Dartmouth, Celtic and Boscastle thrived, and today it seems that every twisty, narrow lane in the area has at least one sign pointing to a ‘studio’. Whether it is the clay, the light, the pasties or just something in the water, the West Country is practically a euphemism for pottery. Amongst the wares, collectors often find vases, jugs and bowls, often unmarked, sporting an unusual grey/green glaze, and bearing a large daisy motif. Immensely tactile, these smooth, definitely hands-on pieces are a delight, yet sometimes dealers seem at a loss to name the maker – they guess at Spanish, and I have even heard them described as ‘Russian`. In fact, these attractive pieces emanated from the Lotus Pottery in Stoke Gabriel, South Devon, in the1960s and 70s, and today are finding favour with enthusiasts who enjoy the way the smooth, flowing forms and muted colouring fits in well with today’s décor. The Lotus Pottery was formed by Michael and Elizabeth Skipworth in 1958, soon after they purchased Old Stoke Farm. This limestone-built farm, set in a garden and cider orchard, was a perfect place for such a venture, with plenty of barns to transform into workshops. Stoke Gabriel is a particularly pretty place, situated on a creek of the River Dart. The centrepiece of the village is the beautiful mill pond. Tourists come from near and far to admire the surroundings and to sample cream teas. For years it was possible to buy stunning Lotus pottery too. Michael and Elizabeth met at Leeds College of Art, and it was there that they formed Loversal Pottery, which they named after Michael’s place of birth in Doncaster. When they moved to Stoke Gabriel they decided on the name of Lotus Pottery, and so were able to continue marking their wares with the initials LP. However, it seems that much of their work, especially smaller pieces, do not bear the initials, while often, even if they are marked, the LP is difficult to see and is easily overlooked. No doubt the attractive surroundings provided plenty of inspiration, and during the twenty-five years or so that Lotus Pottery was in production, Michael and Elizabeth experimented with various techniques, designs, clays, colours and glazes. By 1968, a variety of finishes were available including speckle, Dartside Green, white on red, and blue on blue, while in 1974 a blue on white Loire range was introduced. However, the most characteristic glaze from Lotus was the dark grey/green finish with the daisy motif. It proved one of the top-selling lines for many years, and was known as petal on sage. A blue version, petal on blue, was also obtainable. Sage green was all the rage in the seventies – ‘natural’ colours and stylised designs were very popular, possibly a reaction to the psychedelic, brain-boggling colours and patterns of a few years before – and the vases, bowls, mugs, jugs and assorted kitchenware adorned many homes. The items were normally bought by tourists to the area as a welcome change from the pixies, seagulls and sheep which were sold in most souvenir shops. Lotus ware was stocked by the more discerning retailers! The most distinctive Lotus piece was a stylised bull, smooth and curvy with barely-there features, vaguely resembling the animals produced by the Russian Lomonosov factory in its simplicity. Today, this is the piece that many collectors begin with; not only is it easily recognisable, but its attractive shape allows it to blend perfectly into a modern home. Each bull featured an elongated, arched body with the head lowered. There were no eyes, nose or mouth, but sometimes a few tendrils of moulded hair could be seen between the horns, though most had smooth heads. The legs were very short and narrow, and this was probably the reason why the creatures tend to be unmarked – there was nowhere to impress the LP motif without detracting from the simplicity of the design, and the undersides of the feet were to small to bear a stamped mark. Although at first glance they might appear identical, these bulls vary considerably, especially with regard to the motif which appears on each flank. Usually, the daisy is found, but other designs include a leaf, a fern or a set of interlinked circles. Made in several sizes, from a baby at five inches through to an impressive granddad, thirteen inches long, the shade varies from a grey-green to a rich deep olive. The petal on blue colouration is also very striking, with the blue being a deep, inky colour while the daisy motif is a pale blue/grey. The bull was actually designed by Elizabeth Skipworth in a moment of inspiration; she was amazed at their popularity. A herd of the bulls lined up on a shelf makes a stunning display. Other stylised creatures appeared in this range, though they seem harder to find. They included a bird, owl, cat and a horse’s head, and had the same smooth and glossy appearance. There was also a wide selection of domestic ware such as dishes, egg cups, cruet sets, mugs, jardinières, jugs, vases, bowls, candle sticks and coffee pots. Some of the pieces were impressed with the LP motif in a circle, but many were stamped on the base ‘Lotus Pottery Stoke Gabriel’. However, a large amount bore no mark at all. Lotus was very experimental, and though the petal on sage shade was probably the most popular, they produced various other colours and designs, including a range […]
When it comes to design innovation, in my opinion the Italians have always gotten it right. Now this may be a piece of hand blown glass created on the Island of Murano, or a fashion garment that resembles a work of art rather than an everyday outfit. However, for me, the pinnacle was when I recently discovered the Art Deco ceramic offerings from the Italian Lenci factory. Renowned for their beautiful felt dolls which can realise hundreds of pounds from collectors, the Lenci ceramic figurines are also speedily gaining in popularity, thus finally commanding the reputation and respect that is so deserved. Although very little information is available about the Lenci factory, we are aware that it was established on 23rd April 1919 in Turin by Elena (Helen) Konig and Enrico Scavini. We are also know that the factories name ‘Lenci’ is an acronym from the Latin motto ‘Ludus Est Nobis Constanter Industria’ which translated means ‘Play is our constant work.’ Although some believe that Lenci was actually an Italianism of Elena’s pet name ‘Helenchen’ which her friends gave her whilst she lived in Germany. This explanation could also be the reason why Elena adopted the nickname ‘Madam Lenci’ by those who worked at the factory. However, in my mind it does not really matter where the name originated from as it is the actual products that Lenci created which are of far greater importance. In the first instance, the factory began with the production of felt dolls and decorative objects for the children. These dolls were meticulously executed as each was delicately hand painted and possessed a sense of refinement and sophistication rather than being every day playthings for children. The public adored the dolls and they were exhibited all over Europe starting with Zurich, then Paris, Rome and Milan. Even Mussolini congratulated Elena on her doll creations when they were on show at the Monza Biennial Exhibition and the famous entertainer Josephine Baker also fell in love with the dolls, so in return Elena created a special one in 1926 as a portrayal of the star. However, sadly with any production that gains great success and esteem there is the worry that other factories will jump on the bandwagon and create cheaper imitations. This is exactly what happened with the Lenci dolls. The cheaper competition was to be the cause of great financial troubles for Lenci and even though Elena had the opportunity to move production to Japan in order to keep the manufacturing costs down, she refused, and remained insistent that production should stay in Turin. In order for Elena to keep her company alive she made the wise decision to begin production in ceramic figurines. Ceramic production began in 1928 under the original founder’s guidance as Elena had already trained as a designer at Art School before her ma rriage to Enrico. Responsible for designing many of the ceramic pieces herself, Elena did however collaborate with the many other talented and skilled designers which were employed by Lenci such as Sandro Vacchetti, Giovanni Grande, Essevi and Jacobi. Together they worked on many different elements of design and created various ranges; although Elena’s remarkable talent ensured that she instilled the same sense of playfulness into each piece that was already evident in the Lenci doll designs. The ceramic figurines also carried much of the fashionable Art Deco style along with the individual designers own personal distinctive traits. Nudity had become extremely popular during the late 1920’s and 1930’s with the celebration of the female form and so Elena’s “Nudino” range was well received by the public. Supposedly modelled on herself, Elena and the other designers would incorporate the nude in various poses, although the nude girl would always carry the same boyish figural form of a typical 1920’s/1930’s woman. These particular nude designs have become highly regarded with collectors and can achieve thousands of pounds when sold at auction. Recently a nude figurine of a lady wearing a black & white chequered cap with a dog sitting at her knees dating to 1925 realised £1,600 at Bonhams, whilst a1930’s Elena Konig Scavini nude kneeling and wearing only a floppy sun hat sold for £1,000. Lenci frequently used the model of a nude girl on many designs with one of the most well known being that of a young woman either kneeling or sitting on the back of a Hippo or an elephant. Only last year I was fortunate enough in my capacity as an Auction Valuer to discover three rare Lenci pieces at a lady’s house in Essex with one of them being the ‘Nudino Su Ippopotamo’ (Nude on Hippo.) When sold under the hammer it achieved an astonishing £4,600 whilst one of the other pieces ‘Nude in Pond’ depicting a lady bathing in the water with geese and ducks made £1,900. However, the highest recorded auction price for one of Lenci’s nude figurines was achieved for the polychrome figure ‘Abissina’ which was designed by Sandro Vacchetti. This piece realised a staggering £38,400 when sold at Christies in 2005. Aside from the popular nude figurines many other clothed varieties were also produced in the Art Deco style nearly all of which were female figural pieces. “Day Dreaming” a figurine of a fully clothed young girl relaxing in an armchair was created in various colourways and the version depicting a lady wearing a red and white polka dot dress was the third piece that I discovered at the Essex home. When sold at Stacey’s Auctioneers it made a fantastic price of £3,600, proving that even those that are not scantily clad can still achieve remarkable prices. Throughout the 1930’s Lenci were prolific in producing many varied ceramic designs which mainly consisted of figural and animal subjects. The majority still held the Art Deco stylistic traits such as the lady standing on top of the Art Deco building although some such as ‘Angelita alla Corrida’ a pottery figure of a Spanish Dancer and ‘Testa Paesanella’ a bust of a […]
As with much of tobacciana the growth of decorative cigar cases relates to rise of smoking. The first use in this country of the word ” cigar” (or ” segar ” as it was often written and pronounced) is ascribed by the Oxford Dictionary to the year 1735. The date is curious when one considers the use of tobacco in its various forms during the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for the Georgian era was the golden age of snuff-taking the equipment for which lent itself admirably to the characteristic extravagance and ornamentation of the period. The studied code of mannerisms associated with the taking of snuff stems equally from eighteenth century etiquette. It must, therefore, be assumed that the cigar was introduced to England by a traveller from abroad, probably Spain. The making of cigars was practised in the West Indies at the time of Columbus’ voyage there in 1492, and had reached Spain by way of the Spanish colonies in South America. Cigar smoking remained an exclusively Spanish characteristic until the end of the eighteenth century, when a factory was opened at Hamburg in 1788; the habit spread rapidly through most of Europe, but was slow in reaching England, largely on account of a heavy duty on tobacco which had been instigated by James I nearly two hundred years before. This duty was considerably reduced in 1829, and cigar smoking rapidly became popular— except among the female members of Victorian society. Indeed, the novelty of smoking was such that Hints on Etiquette, published as late as 1834, roundly condemned the practice in these words :”If you are so unfortunate as to have contracted the low habit of smoking, be careful to practise it under certain restrictions; at least so long as you are desirous of being considered fit for civilised society.” By this time, however, cigar-smoking was firmly entrenched, at all events among the large proportion of the population who had no thought of being considered a part of ” civilised society.” Eighteen-fifteen was the year of change, for the unaccustomed state of peace produced by the victory at Waterloo in that year brought home a horde of soldiers who had spent many years in continuous service in Spain, where the cigar was a universal form of relaxation. The cigars smoked at this time were small, hard and strong. They were, in fact, what we should now call cheroots; the Havana cigar, fat and expensive, was a considerably later importation. As the habit of smoking rose, as it inevitably did, through the strata of society, smokers began to feel that carrying their cigars loose in their pocket was good neither for the cigars nor their clothes. In about 1840 there began to be produced a form of case which became popular among the middle-classes. This was made from two leaves of papier-mache, joined at the sides by means of leather gussets, usually with a separate internal case of thin leather or stiff paper. The vogue for papier-mâché was then at its height, although it had first been made in France before 1770. These cases would be of little interest to the collector but for the decorations which were usually applied to the outer leaves (and very occasionally to the inner case as well). A wide range of subject matter was used for the pictorial decorations on the cigar cases. As well as papier-mache, cigar cases were created in metal, silver, tortoiseshell, mother of pearl and wood. Related Tobacciana Tobacco Colleting
Bisque china dolls are those tranquil faced beauties we see featured on the Antiques Roadshow, with glass eyes, hand-painted features and, often, ‘double-jointed’ limbs.
Doll manufacturers were constantly experimenting with materials in an attempt to replace bisque china which so easily was broken. Various substances were tried including wood, celluloid, fabric, metal and a mixture of glue, sawdust and rags called composition. Pictured: Hard Plastic BND doll When plastic was invented it seemed that the search was over – here was a product which was not only virtually unbreakable, but was light to handle and could even be washed. In the late 1940s dolls made from hard plastic flooded the UK market. Companies such as Pedigree, Roddy, Palitoy, Chiltern, Rosebud and BND created all manner of lovely dolls from this new wonder product, while, in the US, Madame Alexander, Effanbee, Arranbee, Ideal, Mattel and Vogue did likewise. A further breakthrough came when vinyl was developed. Now dolls were soft to hold and could have hair rooted directly into their heads, instead of wearing glued-on wigs. By the 1970s, dollmaking in Britain reached its zenith and shops were filled with the classic dolls we’ve all come to love – First Love, Tiny Tears, Katie Kopycat, Tippy Tumbles, Amanda Jane, Babykins, Sweet April, Victoria Rose, Baby Needs You, Baby Won’t Let Go and Sasha. Pictured: Tiny Tears Vinyl Palitoy doll American dolls poured in, amongst them the innovative Cabbage Patch which caused long queues to form outside toyshops in the 1980s. Continental dolls such as those made by Gotz, Jesmar and Zapf came too. Today, most of the British companies have disappeared or been integrated into other concerns. Zapf’s Baby Born is one of the top-selling dolls, while Playmates’ Amazing Amy and Famosa’s Baby Expressions will surely be future collectables. Pictured: First Love Vinyl Pedigree and Bluebird Dolls are becoming even more lifelike as artists create breathtakingly-beautiful high-quality vinyl dolls which rival the finest porcelain, and already collectors are seeking out playdolls from the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. They are the antiques of tomorrow!
Emerging from the Dark Ages, scholars concerned themselves with matters of magic, issues of theology and creative – if nonsensical – arguments such as the Flat Earth Theory. Pictured right: W&R Carlton Ware 3″ NEW MIKADO 2814; 4 3/4″ CHRYSANTHEMUM 2930; 6″ PARROT 3018 vases Among those who queried the absurd, Thomas Aquinas is thought to have been the first to ask that fabulous, unanswerable question, How many angels can dance on the point of a very fine needle, without jostling one another?” Perplexing himself with such paranormal nitpicking must have been disappointing, for it appears that the number of angels has never been ratified. Perhaps he should have gone out more? But just as medieval mystics exercised their brainpower on these metaphysical musings, similar unfathomable mysteries still abound in the 21st Century and cannot be dismissed. For instance, fervent Carlton Ware collectors may reflect upon spatial complexities, not to mention the impracticable infinite, in asking, “How many pieces of china can Carlton Ware enthusiasts stuff into their cabinets before a collection reaches critical mass?” Contemplating this conundrum is indicated if one is confronted by the incredible shrinking domain combined with an ever-expanding Carlton Ware display. Drastic solutions may therefore be considered: stop collecting altogether and live in minimalist bliss; or buying a stately home – none of which is possible at this time. Other options are taking up philately instead; or pruning ruthlessly and with great sorrow. Nevertheless, a more pleasant – albeit somewhat temporary – measure is to think small and buy petite, pint-sized, even miniscule pieces; and consequently live happily for a lot longer. Fascination for miniatures has featured in the art of many civilisations throughout the ages. Over the centuries Far Eastern and Asian cultures produced quantities of fine, intricately carved figurines and minute, bejewelled curiosities; these delicate trinkets are collected worldwide today for their beauty and fine craftsmanship. One example is the Japanese netske (or netsuke), a small toggle that was used to counterbalance the container (or inro) worn suspended from a sash by men to store items of everyday use, in the absence of pockets. The netske became an item of high fashion, skillfully wrought from ivory or wood into teeny animals, birds and sea creatures, portraits of dancers and demons or droll cameos of characters from everyday urban life. These superbly crafted netske are avidly sought after by collectors and continue to be worn by the Japanese on ceremonial occasions. Diminutive and decorative works of art, including mini-portraits painted on porcelain, were produced, admired and sought after throughout European high society for hundreds of years; however the Victorians, who obsessed over just about everything, took the art of the miniature to new heights. Divine, yet useless knick-knacks, for example the ubiquitous cameo, exquisite little sewing kits or tiny booklets bound in gold and studded with precious stones – enclosing nothing more than pages of ephemera such as weather forecasts and phases of the moon (a classic combination of the sublime and ridiculous) – were all the rage. From its inception in 1890, the Carlton Ware works naturally produced something for everyone: from the gloriously huge – Derek and Jane’s magnificent 25″ jardinière and stand (first showcased in CW3’s quarterly magazine The Carlton Comet issue 5), to the tiniest – this rare, BROWN LUSTRINE handled pot which stands a mere 1½” high, shown here with a 2½” BLACKBERRY butter pat dish and a 1½” Clarice Cliff Autumn Crocus quatri-footed dish. Souvenir ware was manufactured for ease of transportation, and was therefore characteristically of minimal dimensions. This area of collecting is a category of its own and was the subject of an article in Newsletter # 22. Many potteries produced tiny replicas of their larger wares, some perhaps as tradesmen’s samples. These small pieces demonstrate how their patterns were reduced accordingly, while others depict only a portion of the overall design. W&R 3″ spill vases Back row: Carlton Ware MIKADO 2881; MAUVE LUSTRINE; MIKADO 2881 Middle row: PARROT 3027; Cubist Butterfly 3190 Front row: Moonlight Cameo 2946 Crown Devon’s Sylvan and Royal George Lustrine were first introduced at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. The sailing dinghy on this tiny blue Lustrine snuff box represents only a small element of the overall seascape depicting a majestic galleon in full sail. The elegant and enduring Crown Devon Royal George pattern commemorates an historic and mighty 18th century 100 gun warship of the same name. Crown Devon snuff boxes Left: pale blue Lustrine Royal George; Right: Rouge Sylvan Lustrine Butterflies (2½” diameter x 1¼” high) Daisy Makeig Jones for Wedgwood Flying Humming Bird mottled blue and orange lustre bowls (front: 2½” diameter x ¾” high; back: 1½” diameter x 1″ high) The stunning Sylvan Lustrine and its sister design Rural Lustrine also enjoyed continuing popularity over many decades. The wonderful Sylvan butterflies, hand-enamelled in brilliant colours on mottled blue or ruby lustre ground, were wreathed by lavishly gilded ivy leaves and, on larger pieces, fluttered past gold “pointillist” style tree trunks. Crown Devon Lustrine Royal George & Sylvan Lustrine Butterflies snuff boxes (2½” diameter x 1¼” high) Created for Wedgwood in 1917 by the celebrated artist, Daisy Makeig Jones, Flying Humming Birds formed part of the Ordinary Lustre series, which preceded her fêted Fairyland Lustre ware. Numbers Z5088 and Z5294 were allocated to the Flying Humming Birds patterns which, with their own exclusive border of Flying Geese, became a highly successful range. Wedgwood Flying Humming Bird bowls pattern Z5294 with Flying Geese exterior border Children’s or dolls’ tea sets were produced over the years but few survive, having been sacrificed whilst fulfilling the purpose for which they were intended. For this reason, an entire vintage children’s tea or coffee set is a rarity and, to remain intact, must have been carefully replaced in its box once the well-intentioned benefactor had departed; or stored reverentially in a cabinet, safe from the clumsy attentions of its young and rightful owner. This delightful Carlton Ware children’s tea set […]
At a recent exhibition at the Acorn Gallery, Pocklington we had the pleasure of interviewing a favourite artist of ours at WCN, the very talented Marie Louise Wrightson. Marie’s work and imagining of Alice in Wonderland has caught our attention and her clever use of props, novelties and frames for her art make her an artist to watch. Have you always been a fan of Alice in Wonderland? Being Dyslexic, I have always loved the illustrations in books, for me, they bring the stories to life in so many ways. Alice in Wonderland has always been my favorite book, I think it’s that mix of escapism, fantasy and the wonderful portrayal of the creativity of Lewis Carroll in his story telling. Who is your favourite character? My favorite character has to be the Mad Hatter, because of his love of tea and fabulous quotes. Do you collect Alice in Wonderland books? I have a large collection of of Alice in Wonderland objects and around 70 books, many favorites, but I do have a Russian copy with some amazing illustrations. I am constantly inspired by the drawings, paintings and illustrations from the books, a fabulous resource of imagery. You also create designs featuring wonderful hair arrangements. How did you come up with the idea and how do you select the items that appear? I started painting a grown up Alice with large cups on her head and long hair with all the related objects not long after I graduated from art school. I like creating that almost dream like effect with my figures, a head full of dreams. What else inspires you? I’m a bit of a DC fan and have painted many characters from the comics and films, would love to paint a Bane and Batman piece, many next year. Favorite comic characters has to be Harley Quinn and Cat Woman, always fun to paint. More about Marie Louise Wrightson Marie Louise graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art, in Dundee, in 2005, having completed her degree in Fine Art and then later her Masters. Marie’s modern twist on a very fine art style has gained her an excellent reputation. Marie was born in Lincolnshire but has lived in Scotland for the past twenty years. Further information You can find Marie on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarieLWrightson/ Marie Louise Wrightson at the Acorn Gallery
Bernard Leach the Father of British studio pottery
Portmeirion Pottery The name Portmeirion to many people conjures up images of the beautiful Italian style village in North Wales or they find themselves reminiscing the cult 1960s television series “The Prisoner”. To collectors the name Portmeirion is innovative and decorative designs in pottery created by Susan William Ellis. Sir Clough William-Ellis created the idealic Portmeirion village in North Wales back in 1925 to encourage visitors to holiday cheaply in pleasant but unusual surroundings. His daughter Susan had a love for art and had always had made design part of her life but it was not until she began work for the Portmeirion gift shop situated in the village that her designs became her own and Portmeirion pottery started to evolve. Susan married Euan Cooper-Ellis in 1945 and together they ran the gift shop. They bought in cheap souvenirs to sell to the holiday makers but Susan became frustrated wanting to buy more saleable objects that caught the customers eye. Her father had an association with the “Grays” factory well know today for Susie Cooper’s early designs. Susan found a copper plate depicting the picture of a lady in Welsh costume and sent this to the factory, Gray’s then produced an exclusive range of souvenirs for the gift shop from Susan’s design. From then on Susan designed many items including Portmeirion Dolphin – all the earlier pieces bear the yellow ship back stamp. Unfortunately the pottery was losing money and demand from Susan was high as she now had another shop owned by her and her husband in Pond Street, London. In 1960 Susan and Euan made the decision to buy the Grays factory in order for Susan to produce more designs. The following year another pottery was purchased, Kirkhams Ltd. This enabled Susan to concentrate on actually making pottery as well as designing. Kirkhams was very run down and needed modernising, once this was finished, the Grays pottery was sold, all the staff moved to the Kirkhams site and “The Portmeirion Potteries Ltd” was born. One of Susan’s first creations “Totem” was launched in 1963 and is highly sought after by collectors today, reasonably easy to find on the secondary market it was produced by cutting abstract shapes into the moulds. This particular design resulted in putting Portmeirion on the map. Such was the demand that Portmeirion had trouble keeping up with the orders. “Cypher” had been introduced along side “Totem” which again proved an instant hit! “Jupiter” a similar design but with a pattern or small circular shaped impressions was introduced in 1964. Both Cypher and Jupiter were in the shape of the new “Sherif” range. Unfortunately Jupiter had a problem in the glaze – it marked easily when used from certain acid substances such as fruit, so this was quickly discontinued. Examples of this design are now extremely hard to find. Other potteries began to copy the “Totem” design and sell at cheaper prices, causing Susan to come up with more design ideas and to bring the “Totem” range to an end. Samarkand was also available around this time, launched in 1965 again it was extremely popular. All of the early designs were produced in the cylinder shape which is easily recognisable to collectors of Portmeirion today “Magic City” produced in 1966 was probably the most popular design of its time and is extremely sought after by collectors eager to buy pieces on the secondary market, expect to pay from £70 upwards for a coffee pot in mint condition. It depicts scenes inspired by Susan’s travels and is also part of the “Sherif” range. “Magic Garden” introduced four years later was not as successful as “Magic City” but now collectors frantically try to find examples for their collections. Aztec and Phoenix amongst others were produced in the 1960s with usually gold, platinum and copper lustre designs on a black background. Extremely attractive and eye catching these too have a similar value as “Magic City” on the secondary market. The 1970s saw the creation of Pormeirion’s most collected and successful range to date, “Botanic Garden”. This design is transfer printed and is produced in the “Drum” shape. Originally launched in 1972, more than thirty years later this design is still in production and is the main stay of the pottery. Inspiration for this range was drawn from books purchased by Susan. The illustrator of the book “ Morals of Flowers” was William Clarke, a botanical painter; his drawings resulted in the patterns for the “Botanic Garden” range. Floral designs in this range include flowers such as Venus’s Fly Trap, Purple Iris, Spanish Gum Cistus, Honeysuckle, Speedwell and many more. All avid Portmeirion collectors know there are hundreds of different designs and shapes that it is almost impossible to cover all of them, this also applies to the designs in the Botanic Garden range. Rare items such as the Yellow Crown Imperial and Manchineel Tree plates can fetch in excess of £100 on the secondary market with collectors desperate to lay their hands on them. Stephen P McKay author of “Portmeirion Pottery” published by Richard Dennis publications says “Prices are all over the place at the moment due to world wide financial uncertainties. American Botanic Collectors are paying up to £100 for rare plates and the Double Camellia and Austrian Lilies are hitting £200 when they appear. Rare coffee pots are going for £70 to £150 for Magic Garden. All the above prices are typical for E-Bay and Antique fairs, you can still get bargains at local auctions and car boot sales if you can spare the time to look. ” With over forty years under its belt and going from strength to strength Portmeirion is without doubt one of the most successful potteries still in existence today. COLLECTORS CLUB There are dedicated collectors clubs for Botanic Garden as well as the general Portmeirion pieces. Collectors of Botanic Garden are predominantly ladies who have built up their collections over the years, adding new items as they are introduced and […]