Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Good Golli Miss Molly

Every time i've been into a Waterstones bookstore recently, it has been with the hope of seeing that a new Millers guide to Ceramics has been published - the last was in 2006 so a new one is over due. They are edited by the highly respected and qualified John Sandon (of Antiques roadshow fame - son of Henry). As yet, there is still no updated guide so I have had to content myself with buying other antique-y type books such as the Antiques Roadshow price guide, but sadly, Bishop & Stonier (and the other factory partnerships) hardly ever get a mention; when they do, it's usually just one small paragraph which always seems to focus on their 20th century nurserywares. Obviously, there is a huge collecting market for nursery ware and any self-respecting collector in this field would, i'm sure, have at least one Bisto piece in their collection. Recently I was contacted by someone who had found a Bisto nursery mug with an illustration from Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwog by Florence Bertha Upton (i had previously shown on this blog a teapot with illustrations of the same story). Sadly, the condition of his mug wasn't great, but the theme is very collectible - if a little non-PC nowadays (just ask Carol Thatcher!). Although nurseryware isn't my passion, i too have one piece in my collection and i thought i'd show you some other examples.
Little Red Riding Hood - one of my favourite nursery stories - see my other blog for my own art work based on this tale.
A Zebra alphabet plate illustrating the letter "Z" - i would dearly love to see the whole set, presuming they did one for every letter.
This is the house that Jack built....

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Relief moulded jug

Many thanks to a man named David who sent me a pic of a jug in his collection. The marks underneath say Bishop and have the Oriental Ivory chinaman under a parasol. If you too have pics that you'd like to share, please do send them to me - i'd love to see them. Thanks David.

Intruder alert! Intruder alert!

" What's this?!?" I hear you gasp, "has he gone insane? They're not by P.B&S or BISTO. How DARE he pollute this sacred blog with non-collection pottery!" Yes, yes, dear reader. I am fully aware that the ceramics in this blog posting are not by any of the factory incarnations from my collection. I just thought I would digress for 5 minutes to show you some of the other ceramics that pass through this household. Some have remained here for years, other move on after only a few days - bought from flea markets, car boot sales and charity shops, then sold on ebay - hopefully for profit. Some reflect my own taste, others are purely commercial decisions about what I think will sell well. Some are mistakes. The first pot, this striking bottle type vase/pot is very modernist 1980s in feel and colour a vivid Yves Klein type blue with small dashes of copper. I was struck by the sheer audacity of the design - so simple in form and colour, yet delicate in it's little touches. It has a very clear potter's seal mark on the bottom, but without the right reference books i'm at a loss to know who it is by. If anyone out there knows, PLEASE do get in touch (looks like a lower case dc or could be a capital "R" the other way up). I love it so much that I'm not sure I will sell this one on for a while.
This next pot is likewise striking in it's form - crisp ridges where it has been handthrown. It is very heavy like a kind of stoneware. The glaze is a fantastic green with smokey patches; i'm not that familiar with studio pottery techniques but i think it may be something like Raku pottery? Again, if you are a person that knows, do get in touch. There is not makers mark, but i looks oriental in style to me and I have no idea of its age.
This jolly vase is a glossy example of continental art pottery from the early part of the 20th century. The applied marigold design is wonderful against the mottled blue background and reminds me of the motifs of William Morris and from even earlier, Elizabethan tapestries.
A handthrown, cylindrical vase with painted leaf/wheat pattern. The style is rough and ready, with no attempt to smooth out the ribbed texture. It is signed underneath with the monogram GC or CG and dated for 1958. My initial thoughts were that the grass type pattern reminded me of Glyn Colledge 's work for Denby, but i'm not a Denby collector so have no idea if this could actually be by him. My hunch is probably not as the work i have seen by him, tends to be more polished.
Along the same lines as the rough and ready vase above, this bowl was purchased from a Portsmouth artist, Gillian Walsh. She studied art&design at Portsmouth University (graduating around 2000) and whilst there experimented with smoked fired pottery. This bowl uses the smoke firing technique to highlight areas of impressed texture made by imbedding Walnuts, pistachios and other various nuts into the clay. The husks burn away to reveal the amazing indentations.
The character jug on the left comes from the Sidmouth pottery and shows the face of a pirate with a most amazing moustache. The small Toby jug on the right is commonly referred to as the snuff taker.
This quirky litte goose caught my eye in a charity shop for 50p. The naive design and striped back reminded me of the animals created by David Sharpe from the Rye potteries.
Although I know very little about studio pottery, I do know what I like, and this includes some West German pottery known as "Fat Lava" because of the lava type glazes. This piece, model number 523, by Scheurich was found in a local charity shop. I love the shape and graphic horizontal lines.
Finally, this plate (one of a pair) was at the bottom of a mixed lot of pottery bought at a local auction. Both plates have cracks and a few nibbles at the edges, but that just adds to their charm for me. They are handpainted and I think they're Chinese, possibly Kangxi in period? Again, if what I've just written should be accompanied by a large "DOH!", do let me know - my knowledge of oriental ceramics is so lacking (in my defence, the subject is SO vast!) that I would love someone to point me in the right direction.
So, there you have it, a household that isn't only Bisto Barmey but just ceramics barmey in general.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Blind Man's Bluff

Ok, so most of these pics will already have appeared on my blog at some time or other. But there are now enough of them to show how Bishop & Stonier used the same moulds over and over again; they simply decorated them in different ways to suit trends and fashions of the day. Hence the title of this blog posting - objects that are so different to the eye, yet so similar to the hands.
Corinthian column candlesticks: one in flow blue on white background, the other pink on Oriental Ivory.
These simple jardinieres show the variety of surface print design used by Bishop & Stonier.
Fruit bowls - very basic in their shape, but with endless possibilities for surface design.
Ginger Jars have been popular storage vessels for centuries, but their decorative appeal is also widely appreciated.
Simple, slimline ovoid vases. They are too small necked to be used as flower vases, so the decoration is very important to their display appeal.
Tall, conical shaped vases are given very different design treatments during the Art Deco period. Dragon handled vases were very popular and produced by several companies, most notably Burleigh. The majolica, relief moulded design suits the design theme really well. The second jug relies on stylistic art deco interpretation of a Pre-Raphaelite idea.
Large ewer type jugs (originally from wash stand sets) with swirling ribbed bodies are given different transfer printed treatments. Firstly, two colour variations of the Cyprus pattern. Then an odd mix of aesthetic botanical flower prints and woodgrain/marbling type patterns on one vessel. The jury is out on that one!
Very oriental in shape, these two lidded jars/vases are both given oriental printed designs. The first, with an intensely full dragon and cloud pattern in Blue & White; the second, a hand coloured enamels version of the Fuji Yama pattern.
This list of how favourite shapes were used repeatedly, could go on and on. If you have any other variations on the shapes i've just presented, i'd love to hear from you!

White Star Line 2nd Class Delft pattern

Sold on Ebay today - this small dish, made by Bisto in the Delft pattern (in flow blue) and brokered to the White Star Line by Stonier & Co of Liverpool: it sold for a very healthy £335 This pattern china was used by 2nd class passengers on ships such as Titanic and Olympic. Demand for White Star line pottery and porcelain is so great that copies now abound on internet auction sites - some quite open about the fact that they are facsimiles, others less honest. This dish is the genuine article however, and the bidders were out in force. Sadly, i don't think the fact it was made by Bisto was the main reason for the bidding frenzy, but simply that White Star line has a truly major collectors market. That said, Bisto wares for White Star line don't seem to come up for sale as often as some other manufacturers wares that were bought by the company. So, there is some rarity in their coming to the market.

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.