Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Titanic Mementos is a website devoted to all things "Titanic" related. As you will read on their site, Stonier & Co Ltd ( another company owned by Mr Stonier from Bishop & Stonier) supplied the White Star Line with all sorts of goods to kit out their ships; some of this was produced by Bishop & Stonier (BISTO). You can read all about it at

who are you calling a "tea leaf" ?

I've mentioned on this blog before that Powell & Bishop were international exporters of their wares. P&B exhibited in the USA and found a huge market for their ironstone wares which were often plainer in design than their earthenware and bone china ranges. One design style that draws collectors together is " Tea Leaf " designs (not a reference to a stolen design) - a simple white body with a gold or lustre tea leaf image. There is a worldwide collectors club for Tea Leaf designs and their link is here: I don't currently have any Tea Leaf items in my collection as I tend to prefer more highly decorated pieces, but as my collection grows, i'm sure it will include pieces like the tureen in the picture above as the elegance of the design style would make a stunning display en masse.

National Archives

A design by Livesley Powell & Co.
The National Archives is currently wading through its collection and digitizing designs from their archive to enable researchers to view them without having to visit in person. A fantastic idea! So here is a link to a powell and bishop design :

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Firing Blanks

"The following extract is taken from which describes how the Bishop & Stonier's impressed makers mark (the Caduceus) can be found on other manufacturers wares simply because part of their business was supplying blanks to them. A fascinating connection that i wasn't aware of; "

""DUAL MARKS Because Gray's Pottery was a decorating business - buying undecorated 'white ware' from other pottery manufacturers - the pieces that the company bought usually already had a backstamp. Many Gray's pieces therefore often have two backstamps (ILLUSTRATION 3) : the original maker's mark and the Gray's mark on top of it, usually large enough and bold enough to obscure the mark beneath. Mr Gray would not necessarily want the white ware producer to take any credit for the pottery, hence his use of bold backstamps.A rare exception to the common sight of dual marks can be found in the use of one version of the Pharoah's Boat (ILLUSTRATION 4) backstamp. Produced by some sort of rubber stamp, this mark was applied to ware exclusively made for Gray's Pottery. Typically, it can be found on matt-glazed ware supplied by Kirklands of Etruria or Whieldon Ware from Winkle & Co/Ridgways of Shelton.Dual marks are often an aid in dating items. The earthenware producer Johnson Brothers of Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, was a major supplier to Gray's Pottery and its products often have distinct date-related marks such as 'Pareek' (registered in 1925), 'Greydawn' (introduced in 1928) or 'Rosedawn' (introduced in 1930) (ILLUSTRATION 5). Lancaster & Sons, later Lancaster & Sandland, used distinctive marks such as 'English Ware' from 1944 or 'Sandland Ware' from 1949.The presence of an impressed mark can also be useful. The most common is 'JOHNSONS', usually on cup bases, but early Gray's ware often has impressed numbers. Examples are W931 (ILLUSTRATION 6), indicating a piece by Wood & Sons of Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, and made in September 1931. Bishop & Stonier of Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, supplied Gray's with white ware during the first 20 years of the company's existence. The characteristic entwined snake mark from Bishop & Stonier is often accompanied by one number on top of another: 2/29 meaning February 1929 ""

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tureens - what does one do with them now?

I have a decorating dilema - having bought a Powell & Bishop tureen with a charming chinoiserie design, I'm wondering what the best way to display it would be? it's too wide to fit in my cabinet which has very shallow shelves and it seems odd to display it on the mantlepiece. And as I live in a small flat with no room for a dining table, there is nowhere else that makes logical sense. I suppose it shall just have to remain where it is, between two gilt frames which display family photos of long dead ancestors - but who actually lived contemporary to when the tureen was manufactured. This is just one example of where collecting can start to drive you insane...when it doesn't match the curtains!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Blue & White .... and ORANGE!

Blue & White pottery has long been a ceramic collector's favourite - ever stylish, ever classic, but also ever inventive. Its origins are in the orient but it has been copied and translated by European potters, particularly in Holland and England with their tin glazed deltware. Blue and White ceramics span centuries and continents and utilise both pottery and porcelain, handpainting and transfer printing. Although the early partnerships of L.P, P&B, P.B&S. only did a limited amount with Blue & White, preferring instead to concentrate on coloured enamel designs and plainer tealeaf ironstone wares, Bishop & Stonier (BISTO) took up the challenge. I have only recently come across this site for buying B&W, but thought i'd post the link here as tey have a few bits from the company - The first picture in this posting is of two vases which use a blue and white floral pattern called "India". Rather boldly, the background is coloured in a vivid orange. This orange colour became more and more popular into the 1920s and 30s as designers like Clarice Cliff and Susie Cooper used it for their graphic, geometric designs. Whereas Cliff and Cooper used the colour orange for its own aesthetic merits, Bisto tended to keep it in the background. I have seen a few pieces of Bisto that tried to mimic Clarice Cliff's style, but i'm afraid to say, it was a sad imitation. I must say, however, i think in the case of these India vases, the orange works extremely well in setting off the beautiful Blue & White design, perhaps because orange is the complimentary colour for blue. I have a couple of other examples to show you where orange has been used by Bisto as a background to the main design: a vase with fruit design - a blue transfer print, handcoloured with enamels; a ginger jar with oriental dragon design.
This is a small Bisto ware vase or possible even a toothbrush holder(!) with a fantastic dragon design, dating from the late 1920s/30s- i love the puffy clouds. The bowl above has to be one of the nicest surprises i've had from buying on Ebay. It turned out to be far larger and far more beautiful than anticipated. The sprig design on the outside is the same print as that used on an aesthetic movement teaset i have already blogged about.

delt and flow blue

The large plate in the centre of this display is the most classic looking Blue & White design I have come across by Bisto and is called "Delft" . It is impressed on the back with the date of 1909 and is very traditional in style: a central image of carnations in a garden with a border of crosshatched panels and flower sprigs. The crosshatch is very redolent of original chinese pottery and the earlier attempts by British potters like New Hall to copy the style. Either side of the plate is a pair of Bisto candlesticks; these also date from the Edwardian period and are typical with their swags and roman/greek/classical column shape. The same moulded shape was also used by Bisto for an Oriental Ivory version of the candlesticks, and i have seen them in cream and pink which is very attractive. My pair of candlesticks look like flow blue, a type of earthenware where the blue colour slightly bleeds into the surrounding white because of a "fault" with the glaze and the porousness of the material used. The "fault" of Flow or Flo' Blue was a massive success for potteries at that time and has become extremely popular with today's collectors, especially in America. The beautiful edwardian jardiniere is home to a weeping fig that despite all odds is very happy and has come back from the dead more times than a Dallas character.

About Me

My photo
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.