Tag Archives: Shire Books

Book Review: British Teapots and Coffee Pots, by Steven Goss

British Teapots and Coffee Pots is a 40-page A5-sized guide from Shire Books, written by Steven Goss, an antique dealer, porcelain expert and teaware collector. It provides a useful introduction to British teapots through the ages, although coverage of coffee pots is fairly sparse in comparison, despite the book’s title.

British Teapots and Coffee Pots by Steven Goss
Steven Goss brings British Teapots and Coffee Pots to a conclusion with the comment:

“Teapots and coffee pots are an important part of British social history and it is calculated that more than 200 million cups of tea are drunk in Britain every day.”

The teapot may be in decline today but there can be no doubt that  tea pots through the ages have very much mirrored wider fashions and trends in design and popular culture – something which is well-illustrated by this book.

British Teapots… is generously illustrated and covers the period from the early 18th century to the present day. This book includes tips for buyers to help them spot damaged and restored teapots (and coffee pots). For £5.99 it is a useful and informative guide.

Buy British Teapots and Coffee Pots direct from the publisher or on Amazon

Book Information

Title: British Teapots and Coffee Pots
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Shire Publications Ltd (1 Sep 2005)
Author: Steven Goss
Language English
ISBN: 978-0747806349
Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 14.4 x 0.6 cm

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: 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: Scottish Pottery by Graeme Cruickshank

Until recently, if asked about Scottish Pottery, I would be forced to admit that I could not think of any except for Wemyss Ware, made by the Fife Pottery, and some later, individual studio potters.

Scottish Potteries, written by Grame Cruickshank & published by Shire Books
I certainly did not realise that Scotland did, at one point, have a substantial pottery industry, along the lines, if not the scale, of that which used to exist in Staffordshire, England. To my shame, names such as Buchan’s Pottery, Brittania Pottery and Bells of Glasgow were unknown to me.

Scottish Pottery tells the story of the Scottish pottery industry, from its relatively late foundation in the mid-18th century through to its early 20th century decline and the consequent establishment of the large number of small, studio potteries which are dotted around this most rural of the UK’s countries.

The author of Scottish Pottery is Graeme Cruickshank, an expert on Scottish pottery and former Chairman of the Scottish Pottery Society. His detailed knowledge of the subject is impressive, although the heyday of Scottish pottery production was short in comparison to English pottery, with industrial pottery production dying out in Scotland several decades before the equivalent decline of large potteries in Staffordshire began.

Scottish Pottery is a useful guide to the main 18th and 19th century potteries of Scotland and also introduces some of the smaller, studio potteries that have been founded and flourished in the latter half of the 20th century.

Buy Scottish Pottery direct from the publisher or on Amazon

Book Details

Title: Scottish Pottery
Author: Graeme Cruickshank
RRP: £5.99
Publisher: Shire Books
ISBN: 978-0-74780-639-4
Format: A5 paperback, 64 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

Book Review: Art Deco Ceramics, by Greg Stevenson

Art Deco Ceramics by Greg Stevenson, published by Shire Books
The period between the First and Second World Wars was a time of great social change in Britain – a change which was reflected in the widespread popularity of the bold, bright, Modernist designs of the Art Deco movement. Art Deco Ceramics is an introduction to Art Deco British pottery and takes a look at the potteries and designers whose work is most valued by collectors today.

All the usual suspects are present (Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper, Wedgwood’s Keith Murray, Charlotte Rhead), as are a number of additional potteries that are sometimes unworthily excluded from these discussions. Art Deco Ceramics is a short book but author Greg Stevenson manages to include an impressive amount of important and useful information into its 40, A5-sized pages, making it a good introduction to the subject for new collectors.

This book pre-dates Shire Books’ fairly recent acquisition by Osprey Publishing and the presentation of the book betrays this. Although the book’s cover is in the company’s new style, the formatting of the pages is a little dated and the photos are not always of great quality, especially when compared to newer Shire titles such as Clarice Cliff.

None of this takes away from the quality of the information, however, which provides an excellent introduction to this popular area of collecting.

Buy Art Deco Ceramics direct from the publisher or on Amazon

Book Details

Title: Art Deco Ceramics
Author: Greg Stevenson
RRP: £4.99
Publisher: Shire Books
ISBN: 978-0-74780-378-2
Format: A5 paperback, 40 pages

Book Review: Clarice Cliff by Will Farmer

Clarice Cliff by Will Farmer, published by Shire Books
There are few better known names in British Art Deco pottery than Clarice Cliff. Together with her Bizarre Girls, she dominated the market for Art Deco pottery in the 1930s. In Clarice Cliff, Will Farmer tells the story of Clarice Cliff and her work.

A passionate Clarice Cliff fan himself, Will Farmer will be familiar to many readers as an 20th century decorative arts expert on the Antiques Roadshow. In Clarice Cliff, he provides the reader with an illustrated tour of Clarice Cliff’s life and her work, explaining how the combination of her original design skill and flair combined with Newport Pottery’s powerful marketing machine to create a sensation that remains potently impressive today.

Clarice Cliff itself is an A5 format glossy paperback that is filled with photographs of some of Clarice Cliff’s finest work. Will Farmer’s enthusiasm for the pottery is infectious and his expert knowledge is genuine, making Clarice Cliff a very easy read and an excellent introduction to the lady and her work.

You can purchase Clarice Cliff on Amazon or direct from the publisher.

Book Details

Title: Clarice Cliff
Author: Will Farmer
RRP: £5.99
Publisher: Shire Books
ISBN: 978-0-74780-774-2
Paperback, 64 pages

Book Review: British Porcelain by John Sandon

The British porcelain industry was born out of a passionate desire to imitate and compete with Chinese porcelain, already a well-established industry when John Sandon’s book picks up the story in the mid-17th century. Chinese porcelain was exported to Britain by the East India Company and was highly accomplished and very fashionable, appearing on the tables and in the display cabinets of the British (and European) upper classes.

British Porcelain, John Sandon

British Porcelain by John Sandon – Published by Shire Books

A solution was needed, and all over Europe ceramicists worked feverishly to discover the secret of this wondrous white, translucent and strong ceramic. John Sandon’s book British Porcelain tells the story of the development of the British porcelain industry from the mid-17th century until the present day. The author is a leading expert on European porcelain and will be familiar to many readers from the Antiques Roadshow. In his day job, he is International Director for European Ceramics and Glass at Bonhams auctioneers in London, where he has worked for more than 30 years.

John Sandon’s enthusiastic prose is accompanied by a great many wonderful photographs and this book is a pleasure to browse or read. The author’s genuine passion for porcelain is obvious and the book provides a fascinating tour through the names, styles, factories and occasional calamities of 250 years of British porcelain production. British Porcelain makes an ideal introduction to the subject for anyone who would like to start collecting British porcelain or would simply like to know more about the subject. It enables you to understand the historical context of different factories, designs and forms of decoration and to gain an appreciation of the choices that are available to collectors in this area.

You can purchase British Porcelain by John Sandon on Amazon or direct from the publisher.

Book Details:
Title: British Porcelain
Author: John Sandon
RRP: £12.99
Publisher: Shire Books
ISBN: 978-0747807131
Paperback, 112 pages