Tag Archives: Pottery

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

New Website Feature: Search By Price

We’re always trying to find ways to improve the Perfect Pieces site – especially to make it easier to find what you’re looking for.

It occurred to us recently that while finding something by name isn’t too difficult, finding a selection of pieces within a certain price range was pretty near impossible.

We’ve now introduced our ‘search by price range’ feature – it’s just below the main menu bar, near the top of the screen. If you’re looking for a gift (or a treat for yourself), you’ll more than likely have a price range in mind.

You can now see all the pieces on the site in a certain price range simply by clicking on the relevant link. At any one time we usually have at least 100 pieces in stock, with prices starting from under £25 and finishing well over £500.

You can now see all of the pieces in one price range – regardless of manufacturer – just by clicking on the apropriate price range:

price-range-screenshot.jpg

We hope you’ll find this useful – let us know what you think!

Pottery Marks Newsletter

As you might guess, our newsletter this month takes a look at the all-important subject of understanding and interpreting pottery marks.

There’s often more information available on the base of a pot than you expect- they’re a bit like the DNA of a human being (well, almost…) Certainly most marks usually provide enough information to give a fairly clear picture of the age, design and manufacture of the piece.

Take a look here to read the newsletter itself, or check out our database of pottery marks, here.

How to Check Ceramics for Damage, Restoration & Wear (Part 1)

Buying antique pottery and ceramics can be a risky process. It’s all too easy to get home and find that you’ve missed a hairline crack, a restored handle or one of the hundreds of other faults that might
exist.

While there is nothing wrong with choosing to buy ceramics in less than perfect condition, I am sure that you, like I do, prefer to know about it beforehand and make sure the price paid reflects the condition.

Poor saleroom and fair lighting, inaccurate descriptions and even unscrupulous dealers can all combine to make buying safely harder than it should be.

To help you avoid these pitfalls, we’ve put together a guide to checking ceramics – from identity and authenticity through to checking for damage, restoration and wear.

We’ve divided this guide into two parts:

Part 1 – Checking the authenticity and identity of a piece

Part 2 – Inspecting a piece for faults, damage, wear and restoration

1. What is it?

Sounds obvious, but is the piece you are looking at what it’s being sold as?

Check that the shape, pattern and pottery markings are all consistent with each other and with the piece itself. Mis-described and incorrectly marked (when manufactured) pieces aren’t unknown, although
they are uncommon.

Don’t be afraid to dig out a pattern guide or reference book to check a pattern or shape number – no one remembers them all!

Once you are happy with the authenticity of the piece, check it is complete.

Should it have a lid, frog (for flowers), detachable handle (e.g. biscuit barrels) or perhaps an accompanying spoon, knife or box?

It’s a case of caveat emptor, I’m afraid – you need to think about what you’re seeing and ask any questions before you buy. Any reputable dealer should be happy (and able) to explain why something is the way
it is.

2. Have The Years Left Their Mark?

It should always be apparent if a piece has some “age” or not. Even if it is in immaculate condition and has been stored away from bright light, dust and dirt, it should still feel old.

This is a hard one to describe – but if unsure look for small details:

  • Do the pottery markings look old?
  • Is the base a little worn/dirty where it has stood on different surfaces?
  • Is there any crazing?
  • Is there any dirt, discolouration or wear? Look in nooks and crannies or where lids, etc. fit on the main body

If you’ve been through each of the checks I’ve descrbed, you should now have a fairly good idea of the identity and authenticity of your piece – and you will probably already have noticed any obvious damage
or restoration to it.

To learn more about how to spot and understand damage, wear and restoration, check out Part 2 of this post by clicking on the link below:

Part 2 – Inspecting a piece for faults, damage, wear and restoration

No Sign of Pottery Offshoring Slowing

There seems no sign that the exodus of volume pottery manufacturing from the UK is slowing. According to a recent press release by market research company Research and Markets, the total value of manufacturing sales of ceramics in the UK between 2002 and 2005 dropped by 32% – almost a third. At the same time, the total retail value of ceramics sold in the UK remained almost unchanged.

That extra third must have been produced somewhere, though, musn’t it?

Even the industry’s most famous names are experiencing problems at the moment – with both Wedgwood and Spode in the middle of job-cutting reorganisations aimed at helping them return to profitability. In addition, the past year has seen the failure of both Poole Pottery and Royal Stafford, as well as the offshoring of most PenDelfin production.

Where Next?

All of this leaves you wondering what the future will hold for the nation’s world-famous potteries. I firmly believe that the only possible answer lies in quality, originality and technical innovation – rehashing old designs and shapes and launching tawdry “celebrity-endorsed” ranges of tableware can only take companies so far. They have to do something to justify the higher costs of designing and manufacturing pottery in the UK – and true innovation seems the only answer.

On the other hand, perhaps the demand that used to exist at the top end of the market has simply passed – a victim of changing fashions and lifestyles. I don’t know – what do you think?