Monday, June 16, 2014

The Great Gravy Boat In The Sky

PLEASE NOTE: This blog is now inactive.  After 10 years of collecting I came to the decision to stop collecting this particular pottery.  I needed room to breathe in my flat and my husband had suffered long enough with my weekly trawls of antiques fairs, car boot sales and auctions so I sold all of my Powell Bishop & Stonier Collection in 2014.  If you are starting your own PB&S collection, i wish you all the best in your hunt, but I would kindly ask that you no longer email me personally for information.  Most of the information i have learnt over the years is somewhere on this blog, as are pictures of nearly all the pieces that were in my collection.  This blog remains only as an archive for future collectors.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Even Experts Can Get It Wrong ?

this link to a Bonhams page shows that even the experts can get things wrong...or can they?
This jug and bowl is a big curiosity - attributed by Bonhams to Spencer Edge for the Malkin factory.   But readers of my blog and serious Bisto collectors will know that this image was in fact, designed by Louis Rhead (originally for the Sun magazine).  So what is the truth here?  i suspect Spencer Edge used the existing image on  his wares, just as Bishop & Stonier did,  but did his own colour variations and thus legitimately (?) claiming ownership of the design.

The fact remains, however, that Louis Rhead was the originator of the image and whether he had any direct control over the image when used by different pottery factories is still to be found out.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I'm not scared of spiders.

 Anyone who's ever picked up an antiques price guide, such as Millers, will have probably read that the main output of  Powell, Bishop & Stonier,  was nursery ware.  Indeed, I do own several Bisto baby plates and bowls, and I have seen many pictures of others.  But I have never managed to find one of their figure handled nursery rhyme mugs, even though this is the image often used by the guidebooks.  So, finally, after several years of searching, I found one in near mint condition on a trip to Topsham antiques centre in Devon.  Hooray!

Whilst I am delighted to finally be able to add this piece to my collection (which, by the way, was made at the time of George Jones ownership of the Bishop factory, so not strictly speaking Bisto ware), it does irk me that antiques guide books often overlook the wide variety of output from the Livesley/Powell/Bishop & Stonier stable.  The history of this factory in its various guises covered nearly 90 years of changing fashions and tastes: high Victoriana and historical revivalist, Japanese aesthetic, decadent belle epoque, jazzy art deco.  It is only in collecting from the entire time frame of a factory's life that one can see these changing styles: what trends lasted for only a few years, which pieces were reused time and again, how factories often used basic shapes and amended them with transfer designs or over-painting to suit the current taste, how they often copied their competitors.
If you are thinking of starting a ceramic collection of any factory, my advice would be this: either buy one particular type of item (vases or jugs for example), or one particular type of decoration (lustre or jasperware perhaps) OR, concentrate on finding the best examples you can which represent that factory throughout its life.  If you buy the basic bread-n-butter pieces which kept a factory going (tea sets and wash basins), make sure they're either stunning examples of their type, or that you're just buying to educate yourself and you will probably want to sell it later on to "trade up".  There are lots of things in my collection that are now just taking up space - pieces which i don't value aesthetically or academically, but which i learned from along my collecting journey.  If you're a collector, don't be afraid to move on, and don't be afraid to get forgotten pieces out of your attic, dust away the spiders and trade up.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Really? i mean... really????

I came across a wonderful (yes, wonderful) vase by Bishop & Stonier - the like of which i have never seen before.  Ok, so it's rare, it's attractive and it's B&S.  It's also in Australia.  But would i really pay $1200au for it? I think not.  Although I would of course like to think there were pieces in my collection worth that kind of money, despite Homes & Antiques magazine predicting a return to favour for Victoriana, I just can't see B&S making a figure like this just yet....yet....  but perhaps the market is more bouyant in Oz?

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

bloggers to look out

a couple of links to some really nice blogs with lovely things to peruse.

across the pond

and if it's good enough for the National Trust, it must be good enough for the Brooklyn Museum. :-)

in good company

well, if it's good enough for the National Trust, it's good enough for me!

Monday, April 01, 2013

lookey likey

a while ago, i posted pics of some Bisto pieces of nursery ware which are decorated with images celebrating the radio programme, "children's hour".  Today, i happened across something very similar by Empire ware - a contemporary factory of Bishop & Stonier.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bisto kids and scouting boys.

Bisto were well known for producing nursery ware and commemoration wares - in fact, most of what is written about the factory in books like Millers guides, focuses only on these lines of production (as we know, they did much more).  But the stuff they did make for children and for commemorating events like royal weddings and visits by notable people etc was well made and perhaps a cut above much of the rest.  One such example of really nice commemorative ware is this child's plate/dish illustrating the scouting movement.  It came up for auction a few years ago (i didn't buy it sadly), but i thought i'd show you the catalogue illustration.  When pieces like this come up for sale, they inevitably have numerous collectors bidding on them because they cover several collecting fields.

Beautiful pair of tits

ok, so they may not be tits, but that got your attention right?  This is a very lovely pair of Aesthetic plates by PB&S that i saw on a well known internet auction site and just had to share with you.  The colouring is very unusual, but very sophisticated and Japanese in influence.

Fairyland Bisto!

 Wowsers!  Another first for my Porcelainporn blog - a Bisto ware ginger jar decorated with a Fairyland lustre type of design, dated 1931.  The pattern is hand decorated and signed by the artist R Innes.  Having never seen one before, one can never be sure if this was a factory produced thing, a one off or even a blank decorated at home by an amateur.  Having seen Fairyland lustre wares by Wedgwood and similar by Royal Winton and Cartltonware, one can say that this piece was jumping on a bandwagon that was first started by the artist Daisy Makeig Jones.  I can't find any trace of this artist, Innes, but no doubt they were inspired by DMJ's work for Wedgwood.  The ginger shape is a classic one for Bisto, shape number 13 and was used over and over again with different surface designs.  In this case, this jar (being sold on ebay) has been priced a bit too highly for me and perhaps the seller is hoping it will ride the  crest of the DMJ wave.  I would personally estimate it around £100-150 at this point in time (Jan 2013) but who knows, if more of this fairyland lustre by Bisto comes to light, it could increase in value as a there will be more for collectors to build on.

Dresden Style

I recently purchased this wonderful pair of Bishop & Stonier vases.  They're wonderfully restrained in colour, using the soft green body that the factory was known for and a white porcelain.  The technique of 3D applied flower decoration like this has a long tradition - most notably in porcelain from Dresden (Germany) and Derby/Chelsea porcelain.  This is the ONLY example I have ever seen by Bishop & Stonier and I feel must be an extremely rare pair.  It may be feasible that B&S only produced the green blank vase and another artist applied the foliate decoration, but without getting my hands on the factory's archives I will never know for sure.  Nonetheless, despite a few small bits of damage (almost inevitable with this type of porcelain decoration), they remain an extremely attractive pair of vases and should hold or increase in value even though the taste for this type of ceramic has fallen away in recent years.  

Randolph Caldecott

I have a number of nursery ware pieces in my collection by Bishop & Stonier and I've often wondered who designed the images on them.  Well, after a bit of digging around I found that a couple of them use illustrations by the well known Victorian artist, Randolph Caldecott.  Apparently, Caldecott also designed for the Royal Doulton factory as well as many children's  books.  Notable images by him that were used on B&S wares depict the rhymes for Hey Diddle Diddle and A Frog He Would A Wooing Go.

About Me

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Sometimes, life doesn't turn out the way you expected. And sometimes, it is exactly as it was 'meant' to be. But whilst i'm not a believer in fate or fatalism, I do believe that life is a both a learning experience and an obstacle course to be climbed and clambered over in the most creative way possible! In doing so, you'll get to where you should be even if it's not where you'd imagined.