Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Bourne Denby - Part 1

For most people Denby pottery is associated with dinner and tea wares. Everybody had it with it's nearly indestructible stoneware and bold designs. From the 1930's Cottage Blue and Manor Green through to the 1950's iconic Greenwheat to more modern (now retro) designs such as Arabesque and Troubadour. However, there is much more to Denby with a considerable catalogue of art pottery and novelties.

The pottery at Denby in Derbyshire was founded by William Bourne in 1809 for his son Joseph after the discovery of a bed of fine stoneware clay in 1806. The factory produced domestic salt glazed stoneware together with some sprigged decorated vessels and spirit flasks in the form of personalities of the day, these are often referred to as "Reform Flasks. 

Their earliest art pottery were a few novelty Denby Majolica items; a name given to a very high gloss mottled streaky glaze usually in dark blue or tans and rarely green. 

The most often encountered is the pig money box. Usually decorated with a dedication,  often a name. Probably given as christening or birthday presents. These are usually broken as the front legs and ears are fragile. Although introduced in the 1890's these piggies are seen dated up to the 1920's.

The first significant art pottery range was introduced in c1895, the result of a collaboration with the ceramic artist Horace Elliot. These wares are easy to recognise from the grey with a blue wash decoration. Usually sgraffito patterns with mottos, sometimes written in esperanto. Subjects include political events, Relief of Mafeking, Royalty, Primrose League together with the pig. Horace Elliot's association with Denby continued in c1934 with later items marked with Elliot's registered trademark of a fleur de lys within a cartouche.
See - for examples.

Horace Elliot, born in 1851 was the son of an architect and was a career ceramic artist. He had studios and retails premises in London. He worked in close collaboration with the Jenkin's Ewenny Pottery, spending long periods their craeting his wares. He also worked with C H Brannam in Devon as well as at Denby.

In addition to Elliot ware sgraffito decorated pottery was made c1900 and decorated by James Wheeler. Similar to but probably inferior to Doulton Lambeth ware by Hannah Barlow. Also a few Martin Bothers vases have been spotted marked Denby. Either they worked briefly at the pottery or used the Denby stoneware clay.

There are several book on the subject. Click on the titles to find a copy.
Denby Pottery 1809-1997: Dynasties and Designers
Denby Stonewares: A Collector's Guide


This is part one of a continuing series on art pottery at Bourne Denby.
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