Monday, 31 January 2011

Norman Wilson & Wedgwood

Whilst checking the information for my Keith Murray posting I was reminded of the influence of Norman Wilson on Wedgwood art ceramics in the 20th century. For some reason he is almost a forgotten man whilst Murray is well known.

Norman Wilson 1902-1985;
was from a potteries family with his father owning a china factory in Fenton. He was educated at Ellesmere College and after study at the North Staffordshire Technical College he found himself running the family firm. He briefly emigrated to Canada before returning to work for Wedgwood. He specialised in the development of new special glazes, clay bodies and kilns. Gradually rising to the position of joint managing director in 1961. 

He was an experimenter and developed many unique glazes such as adventrine and hares fur. His experimental work is usually marked with an impressed NW monogram.

nternet references include;

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Keith Day Pearce Murray (1892 - 1881)

 I had recently sold this Wedgwood vase designed by Keith Murray and was reminded how iconic these designs are. They have fallen out of favour a little in recent years and prices have dropped on the more common shapes. I will say that the common shapes are amongst the best  and were popular when new because they were good.

Keith Day Pearce Murray (1892 - 1881)
Was a New Zealand born architect and designer; his family had come to Britain in 1906. After serving in the Royal Flying Corp during WW1 he trained as an architect at the Architectural Association in London.

Initially his interest in design was direct towards glass. This interest led to Powell's Whitefriars Glass for whom he produced some sketches, which were made on an experimental basis c1931. By 1932 he was engaged as a designer at Steven's and Williams Glasshouse at Brierley Hill, an association that lasted throughout the 1930's.

In 1932 he was invited by Wedgwood to design on a freelance basis, but by 1933 this arrangement had led to an agreement where he designed for Wedgwood for three months a year. He continued to design for Wegdwood until c1946.

The majority of the designs for Wedgwood the iconic clean undecorated architectural shapes in the Art Deco style.  However he did design patterns in the Art Deco style including; Lotus and Weeping Willow. In addition to his design work he was the architect of the new Barleston factory complex. Planned in 1937/8 it was in operation by April 1940 with full completion delayed by the war.
He is also known to have designed silver for Mappin and Webb with many of theirart deco designs now attributed to him. After 1948 he concentrated on architectural work, finally retiring in 1967.

There is currently one useful book on the subject. Click on the title to find a copy.
Keith Murray, Designer

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Langley Ware

  Just a small intro to a subject that I be posting about in the near future.  Here are few teasing pictures of the quality art pottery made at Langley's, which in my opinion is one of the most under rated factories.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Ludwig Lichtinger, Werkstätte für Zinngeräte 1878 - 1906

This one was new to me. When I saw this jug for sale at a reasonable price I knew I could sell it. But who made it, when and where ?

From the mark below I could easily established that Munich was the most likely location for it's maker, as the friar with the out stretched arms is the city emblem mascot. He is seen on lots of commemorative wares, especially on beer steins. But who were LL. Another trader solved this one for me; only finding out after I had sold it !!
Ludwig Lichtinger, Werkstätte fur Zinngeräte were a firm of pewterers based in Munich, Bavaria, germany. They were established c1878 and had ceased production by 1906, which must have been soon after this jug was made.

I still need some detail on this maker and designer ?? any help, please.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Duchess of Sutherland's Cripples Guild

The Duchess of Sutherland's Cripples Guild - to modern eyes a somewhat non PC name for a charity and perhaps the is the reason for it's low standing in the eyes of collectors. You know the ones I mean, "I only collect Ramsden" or "Got any Keswick" types. It still amazes me that collectors get totally one tracked with their collecting habits and refuse to buy quality interesting pieces that they like because it's not their "thing". Time to look more closely and inspire a few more collectors.

The Guild started life as The Potteries and Newcastle Cripples' Guild; founded in 1898 by Millicent the 4th Duchess of Sutherland with the charitable intentions;  "Its objects were to help crippled children to obtain proper surgical treatment and appliances, and to see that they get some education. " (British Medical Journal 1901)
Metalworking started in 1902 producing hand made items in silver, silver plate, bronze and mixed metals. Small bowls and vases are most often encountered. However, they made clocks and other larger decorative item. 

The name was changed to ‘Duchess of Sutherland’s Cripples Guild of Handicrafts’ in 1907. During this period they had a showroom for the sale of its wares at 13-14 New Bond Street, London. Finally the Guild closed in 1922.

Generally their wares have a hand beaten finish and decorated with either repousse patterns or cast applied bands and decoration. Items are easy to recognize as they have stamped marks of a crown over DSCG. There is reference to silver mounted items with Birmingham hall marks. Particularly a claret jug listed on, with a body by Bernard Moore and mounts designed by Francis Arthur Edwards. 

In addition to the metal ware the Guild published at least one book. This was a volume of poems titled  "Wayfarers' Love" edited by the Duchess and published by Archibald Constable in 1904. It's cover was designed by Walter Crane with gilt decorated full vellum; limited to 100 numbered copies signed by the Duchess. (there was an open edition as well) It included works by Thomas Hardy, Austin Dobson, Arthur Symons, John Masefield, W.B. Yeats, Andrew Lang, Alice Meynell and others.

Milicent the 4th Duchess of Sutherland (1867-1955) was a respected social reformer in the potteries of Staffordshire. She was Lady Millicent St. Clair Erskine, the daughter of the Lord and Lady Rosslyn. Her first husband was Cromartie, 4th Duke of Sutherland (1851-1913). They lived at Trentham Hall until Millicent and her husband gave their home to the city of Stoke-on-Trent in 1910.
On the death of the 4th Duke in 1913, she had remarried, and married again after a divorce. During the First World War she served as a nurse in Namur. Millicent, Dowager Duchess of Sutherland, died in August 1955. 

Here are a few more pictures of Guild items.

Internet references;

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Elyse Ashe Lord - Artist Printmaker

I have always been attracted to the prints by Elyse Lord, probably because of the bright colours and oriental dancing girl subjects. So unlike the heavy dark black line engravings that were popular in the period she was working.

She was a Kent based artist who specialised in coloured prints of oriental subjects, often featuring japanese maidens and dancers or still life studies within eastern settings. Mainly dry point with hand colouring although some look to have wood block colouring.

Biographical information is limited and we do not even know when she was born, although several dates c1895/1900 have been published. From her exhibition record we have her living in Sidcup, Footscray and Bexley all in the north west Kent part of Greater London.

Her work was popular and well enough appreciated to have been subject to the critic Malcolm Salaman's inclusion in his Masters of the Modern Colour Prints Series in 1927. She exhibited widely and was elected a full member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1922.

Her exhibition record includes;

Royal Society of Artists, Birmingham
7 Leferve Galery
Brook Street Gallery 9 Royal Academy 2
Fine Art Society 3 Royal Cambrian Academy 2
Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts
2 Redfern Gallery
Goupel Gallery 2 Royal Inst of Painters in Water Colours 20
Walker Gallery, Liverpool
21 Royal Scottish Academy

Her work is similar to a few other artists, such as Geoffrey Snyed Garnier, Robert Herdman Smith and the American art Dorsey Potter Tyson.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

W A S Benson (1854 - 1924)

We have all seen them around the fairs and markets and refer to them as Benson ewers, but who and when ?? In his time Mr Brass Benson was a very successful businessman and influential designer whose products were an integral part of many arts and crafts interior designs.

William Arthur Smith Benson was born in 1854 and early in his life he lived in 
Alresford, Hampshire. His father was a local magistrate and he was educated at Darch's prep school then Winchester college followed by reading classics in philosophy at New College, Oxford. He abandoned his studies to become an architect and articled to Basil Champneys from 1877 to 1880.
He had met and became friends with Burne-Jones in 1877 which led to an introduction to William Morris. In the early 1880's he had his own studio producing furniture and lighting. He produced lighting scheme for projects such as Phillip Webb's STANDEN. He exhibited widely including at the  1901 Glasgow international.

He is mainly remembered for his lighting and domestic metal ware made during the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. These were retailed by the Army and Navy stores for example. Most items we see today are the myriad of domestic insulated jugs and ewers. These came in many sizes and finishes.

Of course there is far more to his art. He produced many delightful decorative tea wares and lighting schemes often with Whitefrairs Powell glass shades. He also had is own patented window glazing system and designed several domestic building.

Most of his domestic products have stamped marks although sometimes they are cunningly hidden under handles or on hinges. The lighting is often poorly marked and you will have to rely on experience or have access to period sales brochures. Here are just a few of the various marks.

Some of his hotel restaurant ware have moulded marks. 

I could fill pages and pages with details of his life and works but I could not do justice to his work. I simply have not got access to the pictures to illustrate the nature of his finer work. Luckily for you and I. someone has already done the research and produced a beautiful book full of colour pictures and reproductions of the original sales literature. When you see the scope of the lighting produced you will probably think "I've seen one  those and one of those, if only I had known". Considering some of the lighting with original shades are now in the high £100's it probably a good investment.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Keswick School of Industrial Art

Keswick School of Industrial Art was established c1883/84 by Cannon Hardwicke Rawnsley of National Trust fame and his wife Edith. Initially established as an evening class in the Crosthwaite church parish rooms offering drawing, wood carving and design classes. These classes were a success and soon there was a need for a more permanent premises. With assistance from County Council the school buildings were built and opened in 1894. These still stand and are currently a restaurant.

The school produced works in copper, brass, silver, silver plate, pewter, stainless steel and wood. All sort of items were made including dishes, trivets, jardinières, fire screens and their signature split tube box trays, to name a few. 

They employed influential designers such as Harold Stabler (Poole Pottery) and W H Mawson the son of the famous landscape garden designer Thomas and received national recognition exhibiting and winning numerous awards, including at the  The Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society exhibitions from 1888.

KSIA ware are generally easy to recognise. For the most part they are clearly marked. Several Mark were used all were variant on the school initials KSIA either in a diamond or in line on smaller items such as napkin rings.
Some unmarked items do exist and it is generally accepted that these items did not reach Edith Rawnsley's high level of quality, so left without the "hallmark"

For an enterprise rooted in the Arts and Crafts tradition associated with John Ruskin they managed to survive until 1984. They managed to adapt their design influences in the 1930's to popular art deco style with it's simple plain undecorated shapes. Often using the newly discovered Firth Staybright stainless steel. After the closure of the school in 1984 metal working continued the Arts and Crafts traditional in the form of Lakeland Rural Industries (LRI)

Today, "Keswick" is an accept quality collectors item with many collectors seeking different and perfect examples. From experience, collector generally seek early copper and brass items from the 1885-1915 period with a high premium being paid for hallmarked silver items. The plainer stainless steel and pewter from the 1930's are much underrated and represent very good value. These should not be mistaken with later 1960's 70's examples for which there is little demand and can be picked up cheaply. They quite often fail to sell on ebay and even linger on bootsale stalls when only a few pounds.

There much more to say about the School and I hope to revisit this subject with more on the designers and marks. For more information try

The book on the subject is comprehensive; Click the link below for details

Cobham Pottery - Douglas Zadek 1913-95

The Cobham Pottery also known as Surrey Pottery Ltd was established by Doulgas Zadek in c1947 and operated until 1956. The products of this pottery are generally small scale earthenware vessels with many "tinies" being produced for the 1953 Coronation. Benny Sirota of Troika fame worked there from 1953 learning his trade.

Douglas Zadek was born in 1913 in London. He studied at the Bauhaus in the early 1930's and on returning to England he worked for Muriel Bell at the Malvern Pottery and from 1936 with Bernard Leach in St Ives, replacing Harry and May Davis as his assistant. He died in 1995.

Most items that I have seen are small simple shapes with slip decoration and some incised decoration. Impressed marks are clear on the underside. Commonly "Cobham" and some with a circular DZ mark/monogram.

Strangely mainly jugs also small dishes and vases. A multitude of tiny commemorative items produced for Queen Elizabeth II coronation in 1953.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Gebrüder Bing Nürnberg 1863 - 1933

Here we have a German pewter (zinn) wine flagon decorated with an art nouveau or jugendstil design. This is a recent purchase that has led to some interesting research. I have seen this mark on other items but this flagon was the first special piece to prompt more interest.

The basic information about this mark is; GBN stands for Gebrüder Bing Nürnberg or to anglicise it Bing Brothers, Nuremberg and the Bingit Zinn refer to their range of decorative pewter made c1904/5

The factory was established in Nuremberg, Germany by the Ignaz and Adolf Bing in 1863 initially producing metal kitchen utensils and the like. By 1880 they had begun toy manufacturing and by the early 20th century the factory in Nuremberg was the biggest toy factory in the world. They produced their first Teddy Bear in 1907. They are best remembered for the tin plate toy trains they produced which are amongst the most keenly collected early 20thC toys.

The "Nuremberg Style" of manufacturing toys with lithographed designs on steel sheets that were stamped out and assembled using tabs and slots was  perfected by Bing. In addition to toys they continued to make a wide range of metal household, kitchen and office equipment. Some were more decorative with design influences from the Jugendstil and art nouveau schools of design.

They took over the firm 
Felsenstein and Mainzer - Norica Zinn (Co.) in 1918. This firm had been established in Nuremberg by Simon Felsenstein und Sigmund Mainzer in 1886 as a small pewter workshop and from 1904 started producing on a larger scale (Norica Zinn).

The company suffered badly from the effects of the First World War with loss of their export market and a rise in competition from US companies. Some revival in the early 1920's was short lived and by 1927 the company was in financial trouble. The family Bing was Jewish and president of the company, Stephen Bing and his family fled to England following the rise of Adolf Hitler. The company was in liquidation by 1932 and ceased trading in 1933.
 The Bing factory site in Nürnburg was taken over by Diehl Metall in 1938

Stephen Bing continued toy manufacturing in England helping establish the firm Trix.