Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa has delivered!

It's Christmas day and Santa has dropped a gorgeous gift down my chimney - a stunning BISTO bowl which combines a grey wood-grain printed pattern with a border of red, white and blue birds on branches and stylised trees. This pattern is so of it's time, around 1910-20ish. The border design reminds me of work coming out of the Glasgow school of art at this time; designers like Rennie Mackintosh, Margaret and Francis Macdonald, Herbert McNair etc who were perhaps a few years earlier when at the height of their powers as "The Four", but who's influence continued to inspire artists until the Art Deco period of the late 20s and 30s. The motif of Budgerigars (budgies) was very popular at this time in art and design.

I'm a "complete-ist"

Here are a couple of illustrations of what it means to be a "complete-ist" collector. The first pic is of three pots decorated with a pattern called "India". I recently added the gourd shaped vase on the right to my collection (shape 27) and just love the fact that Bishop & Stonier manufactured so many different shaped pots with the same pattern. Whether or not people bought them as sets at the time of manufacture i do not know, but I'm the kind of collector that feels he just has to have every conceivable shape and variation of a design. The second pic is the beginnings of another of these got to have it all patterns.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Eat your heart out Minton

I bought this green bodied, Conway patterned tazza some time ago, but was only recently marvelling at the stunning quality of the base when i served up mince pies to my family on Sunday evening. A pre-Christmas get-together was the ideal opportunity to show off some of my collection with a buffet of nibbles served up on various tazzas/comport dishes. What I love most about tazza designs is mainly down to the stand. The variety of designs is astounding: cherubs, eagle claws, classical columns, aesthetic movement flowers, arches and oriental bamboo, etc. The above example is surely a match for any contemporary piece by Mintons? Whereas P.B&S were not reknowned for 'exceptional' quality like Mintons or Derby, some of their wares were pretty fine indeed and they won awards.... more of this later!

1883 - An auspicious date

"Gutted" does not begin to describe how I felt this week when i missed out on the above bowl - for the second time! It was listed on Ebay a few weeks ago and crazily, I completely forgot about the auction end date, left it on my Watch List and missed the finally bidding. It went for a paltry £35ish. To my surprise and and delight it was re-listed last week when the original high bidder didn't pay-up. I was determined to make mine a winning bid, so when i found that the auction would be ending midday on Monday, and in the early morning when i had to leave for work it was still below £30, i put on a bid of just over £60 and hoped to goodness it would be enough. I know from bitter experience that I hardly ever win things when i'm not there in to place a bid in the final moments. You tend to find that if you leave an early bid, the price creeps up and creeps up as other bidders add a few more pounds until they've just topped you. Whereas, if you go in for the kill in the final seconds, it leaves little time for other bidders to outstrip you. Well, this was just one of those horrible occasions where i had to make a decision about how much i could afford (and this close to Xmas, unfortunately, not a lot) and place an early bid. I really wished i'd put nearer £100 to secure it, but even that may not have been enough, because the dish is truly stunning. Visitors to my blog who've read early blog postings, will know that i already have an armorial tazza; hand-painted with dolphins, griffins, the date 1883 and with the initials A R F. When I showed it to Fergus Gambon at the Antiques Roadshow, he was bemused and wondered if it was either a trial piece for a private commission (it hasn't had a final glaze, and has tester colours underneath - which don't even relate to those on top!), or perhaps was a blank tazza, painted by a talented amateur at home. Well, the dish that I missed out on, DOH!, has the same armorial ideas, date and initials, so surely comes from the same commission. Indeed, it even has the same letter "J" painted underneath as the painters mark. Both pieces are on Oriental Ivory wares. When i bought my tazza, there was another piece for sale on ebay by the same seller, which i couldn't afford at the time. For the life of me, i can't remember if it was this dish and whether it's now just doing the rounds of being re-sold, or whether this is a "new" one to come to light. I shan't give up hope of attaining it however and hope that the new top bidder doesn't cough up the dough, so i can have another stab at it!

Friday, December 05, 2008


The tureen in the picture above is an example of plain, basic ironstone ware made by Powell & Bishop. The moulded relief looks to be something like a sunflower design.
This next tureen is transfer printed with the Honfleur pattern.
Lastly, this transfer printed design includes sunflowers and peacock feathers. For all of these tureens, the basic shape is very similar and shows how the factory used basic mould designs and then decorated them in various ways. This method helped to keep costs down as the "design" of a piece was not so interested in the shape of things, which pretty much remained the same for decades, but concentrated on the surface print design. All this was to change in the Art Deco period when designers such as Clarice Cliff invented bold new shapes like conical teapots to interest homeowners. Then, the shape of things became integral to the integrity of the entire design.

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.