Tag Archives: books

Book Review: The Backstamps of Fielding’s Crown Devon, by Alan H. Roberts

The Backstamps of Fielding's Crown Devon by Alan H. Roberts

Backstamps are an essential aid to dating and identifying antique and collectable ceramics — but finding reliable and detailed information on pottery backstamps is often a challenge for both collectors and dealers.

Even in this digital age, books remain the best way to find this information and for Crown Devon collectors, one such book is The Backstamps of Fielding’s Crown Devon. This is a 30-page pamphlet written by long-time Fielding’s collector Alan Roberts, and published by the Fielding’s Crown Devon Collectors’ Club.

As the title suggests, The Backstamps is devoted solely to backstamps and is an excellent reference guide for anyone wanting to know about Fielding’s backstamps in comprehensive detail. Alan discusses the backstamps in considerable detail as well as providing many pictures of the different marks used. This book covers a wider range of Crown Devon marks than Godden’s Encylopedia of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks and includes a few that are not included in Susan Hill’s most excellent Crown Devon: The History of S. Fielding & Co..

The Backstamps of Fielding’s Crown Devon is also very affordable, at just £3.50 including free UK postage. This really is a bargain for the amount of information provided and for anyone who is only interested in Crown Devon, it makes a far more sensible purchase than Godden’s £30+ encyclopaedia.

Usefully, this book also covers the backstamps used on new Crown Devon pottery, which is not Fielding’s but is sometimes sold as such — whether deliberately or due to the seller’s ignorance.

Highly recommended.

Book information:
Title: The Backstamps of Fielding’s Crown Devon
Author: Alan H. Roberts
Publisher: The Fielding’s Crown Devon Collectors’ Club
Price: £3.50 inc. UK P&P

To buy a copy, visit: www.fieldingscrowndevonclub.co.uk

Book Review: Poole Pottery by Will Farmer

Poole Pottery is another of Shire Books A5-sized paperback books, written by Will Farmer. Will Farmer is an expert on 20th Century decorative arts and a director of Fielding’s Auctioneers in Stourbridge. His face might also be familiar to you as one of the experts on the Antiques Roadshow.

Poole Pottery by Will Farmer - Shire Books
This is a concise book that looks at the history of Poole Pottery from the early days of Carter & Co, through the 1950′s when Poole produced its Freeform range to  the present day. The author not only talks about the pottery and its historical background, but looks at how the changing times influenced the designs that came out of the pottery.

This is really nice short volume and is laid out well with colour photographs on every page. There are some really interesting pictures of early Poole pieces, including one of a wall plaque originally attached to the factory wall back in c1925. There is not any information on pottery marks or decorators’ marks; if this is what you are looking for, the definitive (and expensive) Poole book is Poole Pottery by Hayward & Atterbury.

However at under £7, Will Farmer’s Poole Pottery is certainly good value if you want a readable and illustrated introduction to the history and wares of Poole Pottery.

Buy Poole Pottery direct from direct from the publisher or on Amazon

Book Details

Title: Poole Pottery
Author: Will Farmer
RRP: £6.99
Publisher: Shire Books
ISBN: 978-0-74780-835-0
Format: A5 paperback, 64 pages

Book Review: Royal Crown Derby by Margaret Sargeant

This book is written by Crown Derby expert Margaret Sargeant, who worked for the Royal Crown Derby museum for fourteen years. She has written and lectured widely on the factory and is an authority on the company.

This is a concise book providing a good introduction to the history of Derby porcelain from 1750 right through to the present day.

Royal Crown Derby by Margaret Sargeant
Split into three sections it covers the three main eras of Royal Crown Derby working from the Nottingham Road Factory (c1750-1848), to the King Street Factory (c1848-1935), and then on to the Osmaston Road factory (c1877 – onwards) where it remains today.

Each section provides a historical guide into the porcelain factory with many interesting early photographs that are mostly in colour. An added bonus to any enthusiast is that at the end of each section is a summary of the pottery marks used by the factory at that time. Having pictures of pottery marks is especially useful when you’re trying to identify pieces and date them.

This is another of Shire Books A5-sized format and is generally clear to read with photographs breaking up the pages well. It’s nice to have a concise book that not only works you through the history of a pottery but also provides you with information on the pottery marks used.

For under £5 it’s certainly worth the money if you’re interested in a general introduction to Royal Crown Derby.

Buy Royal Crown Derby direct from direct from the publisher or on Amazon

Book Details

Title: Royal Crown Derby
Author: Margaret Sargeant
RRP: £4.99
Publisher: Shire Books
ISBN: 978-0-74780-443-7
Format: A5 paperback, 40 pages

Book Review: Ceramics of the 1950s by Graham McLaren

This review features another of Shire Books’ A5-sized books on British pottery. Ceramics of the 1950s does exactly what the title suggests and provides an introduction to the ceramics of the 1950s and to the political, cultural, economic and technical factors that were behind its development.

Ceramics of the 1950s by Graham McLaren
Both tableware and decorative wares are included, although the bias is towards tableware. Author Graham McLaren is very knowledgeable and the book is easy to read and follow. The role of new technology and social changes in the designs of the 1950s is explained and plenty of examples of collectable 1950s ceramics are provided from most of the main British potteries of the time.

Ceramics of the 1950s is one of Shire Books’ older titles – this means that although it has had a new cover in recent years, the internal layout and presentation of the book are somewhat dated and the quality of the pictures is not as high as in newer titles.

Despite this, it is clear to read, the information is good and the pictures are useful. This book is an ideal introduction to 1950s ceramics and is well worth a fiver if you would like to start learning about or collecting pottery from this era.

Buy Ceramics of the 1950s direct from the publisher or on Amazon

Book Details

Title: Ceramics of the 1950s
Author: Graham McLaren
RRP: £5.99
Publisher: Shire Books
ISBN: 978-0747803362
Format: A5 paperback, 40 pages

Book Review: William De Morgan, Arts and Crafts Potter by Rob Higgins & Christopher Stolbert Robinson

No name is more intimately linked with Arts and Crafts pottery than that of William De Morgan. His work inspired many other potters and his pottery set an example of technical and artistic excellence that was followed by other notable British art potteries, such as Martin Brothers, Ruskin, Pilkington’s Royal Lancastrian and Burmantofts.

William De Morgan, by Rob Higgins and Christopher Stolbert Robinson
This slim volume from Shire Books tells the story of De Morgan’s life and work, from a childhood fascination with maps and drawings through to retirement and a successful second career as a novelist. The majority of the book looks at his ceramic work and the varied progress of his pottery business, and is lavishly illustrated with pictures of De Morgan’s work, which is highly-prized and scarce today.

If you are interested in British art pottery from the Arts and Crafts period, then a knowledge of De Morgan and his work is almost essential. This volume makes an excellent and enjoyable start to this journey and the photos alone are well worth the book’s RRP of £6.99.

Buy William De Morgan direct from the publisher or on Amazon

Book Details

Title: William De Morgan
Author: Rob Higgins and Christopher Stolbert Robinson
RRP: £6.99
Publisher: Shire Books
ISBN: 978-0-74780-738-4
Format: A5 paperback, 64 pages

Useful Websites No. 1: The Maling Collectors Society

Welcome to the first of an occasional series on useful websites focusing on antique and collectable British pottery.

In general, this is a sector quite poorly represented on the internet, so those sites that do offer high quality, authoritative information are worth their weight in bits and bytes.

The website of the Maling Collectors Society is one such site.

The site offers a fairly comprehensive guide to Maling pattern numbers, pattern dates and pottery marks and to the history of the Newcastle-based pottery.

The society themselves have links with several former Maling staff and hold regular Maling Collectors’ Workshops at Charles Allen’s New Castle Delft pottery, which is located on the former Maling pottery site.

If you have already had a look at our own guide to Maling pottery marks and Maling prices and you still have some Maling questions – or would just like to learn more – then I’d recommend you take a look at the society’s website as it is a mine of useful information.

However, if you really would like the ultimate guide to Maling, then it’s a good old-fashioned book that wins the day! Maling: the Trademark of Excellence is a superb and detailed book, written by Stephen Moore and published by the Tyne & Wear Museums Service, from whom the book can also be bought.

Update: Thanks to the Society’s website, I have now disovered that there is a novel available by Tony Boullemier, great-grandson of legendary Maling designer Lucien Boullemier. It’s called Leonie and the Last Napoleon and takes an entertaining and racy look at the history of the family and the events which led to their emigration to the UK.