Thursday, 4 December 2014

Crown Ducal Ware book

The long awaited book on Crown Ducal Ware is to be published soon, (January 2015). Written by Gerrard Shaw, the book is a development of his dissertation from 1993 with the addition of 20 years more research.

Title: A Study of A.G. Richardson & Co., Ltd's Crown Ducal Ware, 1915-1940
Author: Gerrard Shaw
Format: Hardback, 208 pages, inc. 222 colour photographs
ISBN-10: 0993094104
ISBN-13: 9780993094101

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Charlotte Rhead facsimile signatures. Part 1

In his books Bernard Bumpus created a list with the names and marks of the Crown Ducal tube-liners, and Gerrard Shaw has a similar list of names in his dissertation. I am not aware of any new information being found since these publications which are now about 15 and 20 years old. Hope must now be fading of linking any more names to these tube-lined marks.

Published information of tube-liners and their marks

Despite there being no new factual information about Charlottes work colleagues I believe that information from observing which signature styles are found on which patterns and associated with which backstamp style may reveal some useful information. Each distinctive facsimile signature style has a relationship to the date when the mark was applied. Although many of the signature styles may not be definitively attributed to individual named decorators, their characteristic marks clearly occur in clusters with regard to backstamps and patterns and consequently a date range. This information can be used to estimate when particular tube-liners were working for Charlotte and what patterns they preferred or were instructed to work on. 

The cataloguing of the signature styles is fraught with difficulty. There is a strong temptation to make associations, and this must be balanced against the risk of creating links where none actually exists. The philosophy adopted here is to record all styles that have recognisably different characteristics, but to group and link them if they could reasonably be by the same individual. If a new interpretation of the observations makes more sense in the future then it should be quite easy to present the findings anew. 

I have identified between thirty and forty different signature styles but Bumpus and Shaw record barely a dozen names or tube-lined initials. It is hoped to demonstrate that several tube-liners used different signature styles during the course of their time working at Crown Ducal. But some styles are represented by a very small number of observations and it may never be possible to fit them into the picture.
In this first post on the subject I am going to present the signature styles of three tube-liners, Rose Dickenson, Hannah Williams and Elsie Fearns. These are recognisable signature styles which collectors will be familiar with. Analysis of variation in a tube-liners style with regard to time and pattern range can suggest some interesting detail about the production and employment history at Richardsons. These are some of the easy ones to get started with, others are more difficult or impossible to interpret.

In a previous post I introduced a concept of "periods" for defining the age of when a pot was made and I shall use these terms for describing when tube-liners were active. Providing there is sufficient confidence I may use actual years to provide more precision, but they can only ever be estimates because there is no documentation from the 1930s recording the Crown Ducal production history.

Firstly, I need to point out an error made by Bumpus, and that is the linking of the K mark to a tube-liner. The .K. mark is definitely not the identifier of a tube-liner. It is a code applied by the tube-liner so that the enameller will be informed to decorate the pot in a certain manner. These codes are recorded in the surviving Crown Ducal documents and pots marked with a K are also likely to have a signature of one of the known tube-lining artists together with their letter or number mark.

Rose Dickenson (possible spelling Dickinson) 


From the range of patterns and backstamps found with Rose's signature style it can be confidently proposed that Rose was effectively present during the entirety of Charlotte’s time at Richardson’s. Her signature has not been observed on a few designs but the long term tube-liners like Fanny, Dora, Rose and Hannah appear to have had favourites and concentrated their efforts on particular patterns. Then by the time of WW2 these experienced decorators tended, (though not exclusively), to work on the most complex patterns and on special orders, so their marks may not be found on some of the later, simpler designs.

Rose in her mid 20s - photo taken c. 1938-1940

Although the signature style of Rose does change with time, there is rarely any difficulty in identifying her work. The dot and curved stroke forming her initial letter D is very distinctive. I have not subdivided her entire catalogue of work, (yet!), but just concentrated on her early styles as this demonstrates on what she was working on during that first year or so with Charlotte Rhead.

Rose Dickenson TL-RD1

The style TL-RD1  indicates an item of Roses's earliest work. So far it has only been found on patterns Lotus Leaves, (2682) and Turin, (2691) from Period 1. Notice the L for Lottie Rhead, (like Charlotte's work at Burgess & Leigh), suggesting these were made during the first months of production before Charlotte had created her new "Crown Ducal" identity and perhaps guiding how her team should identify their work.

Rose Dickenson TL-RD2

The style TL-RD2  is also her early work from Period 1.  Found on patterns Lotus Leaves, (2682), Turin, (2691), Aztec, (2800), USA pattern 3172 and Padua, (3636).  Now with a C for Charlotte, the distinctive letter h, but still with the horizontal stroke to the letter d.

Rose Dickenson TL-RD3

The style TL-RD3 is at present a group of all her other signature styles. After TL-RD2 Rose developed a lovely flamboyant style with large CR and h, but later she became more efficient in her signature but it is always an instantly recognisable version of TL-RD3.

Production history graph showing distribution of Rose's early signature styles

The graph above shows the distribution of Rose's early signature styles. TL-RD1 and TL-RD2 are only found on items marked with Period 1 backstamps. This graph only displays observations until pattern 4040 in Period 2 but of course she continued tube-lining probably until Charlotte left in 1941/42.

The graph is instructive because it shows that her earliest work was on the simpler linework patterns of Lotus Leaves, Turin and Aztec, not Byzantine. I would hazard a guess that this might mean Rose was learning a new skill from Charlotte, although before the end of Period 1 she was decorating complex designs like Byzantine and Rhodian.

Hannah Williams


The signature of Hannah Williams also appears to have evolved, the similarities of these three styles are too striking to be ignored. The development of the capital R is the only real difference in the signature and the change in the initial letter from B to H is perhaps a change from maiden surname to forename. Bernard Bumpus ascribed the letter B signature to Violet Barber but he did qualify this with a question mark clearly indicating his uncertainty. The pattern and backstamp style distribution for these three signatures display a perfect sequential development. 

Hannah Williams TL-HW1

The TL-HW1 style is found on some Period 1 patterns particularly Byzantine, (2681), Rhodian, (3272), Primula and Granada, (3321) and on Period 2 pattern Hydrangea, (3797), as well as examples of  Period 1 designs produced during Period 2. From the proportion of Rhodian, Granada and Primula examples seen with the HW1 style compared with other established tube-liners of Period 1,  Hannah probably arrived when production of Rhodian was in full swing, late summer 1934 would be a reasonable estimate and probably stopped using the HW1 style in early 1935.
Hannah Williams TL-HW2
The TL-HW2 signature style is not common and apart from the earlier designs only appears on two patterns that are not found with TL-HW1 and those are Blue Peony, (4016) and Persian Rose, (4040). Therefore the HW2 style may only have been used for a few months or so in early/mid 1935. Some examples of the HW2 style have the horizontal top stroke for the letter d.
Hannah Williams TL-HW3

From pattern 4100 onward the typical signature style TL-HW3 with the letter H was used until Hannah left Richardson’s. The youngest design seen with her mark is 6016, but the number seen of the late, complex designs is similar to those produced by Rose and Dora so it is reasonable to assume she stayed at Richardson’s until Charlotte left.

Production history graph showing distribution of Hannah's early signature styles

The production history graph of Hannahs earliest work shows complex designs such as Byzantine, Rhodian and Granada. So I think it is safe to assume that Hannah was an experienced tube-liner before she started at Richardsons. I have not found any record of where she acquired her skill, maybe she had worked with Charlotte at Burgess & Leigh and was able to rejoin her, or possibly she was a colleague of Fanny Morrey at Moorcroft.  The number of Period 1 items tubed by Hannah is significantly less than some of her fellow workers, only 15%-18% of the number that are marked by Adams, Rose Dickenson or Dora Jones and therefore she probably joined well after Charlotte had set up operations at Richardsons. Late summer of 1934 would be a good estimate, just in time to prepare Byzantine, Rhodian and Granada pots for the Christmas shoppers!

Elsie Fearns?


These two styles are very similar and are probably by the hand of the same tube-liner whom Bumpus tentatively names Elsie Fearns. He has a question mark after Elsies name and Shaw does not have her in his list of tube-liners. I have no further personal information on this tube-liner and so for the present am happy to defer to Bernards best efforts to identify this tube-liner.

The only significant difference between them is the the case of the letter E. If the output of these two are merged they seamlessly become representative of one worker. The other characteristic common to both styles is the mark of the number 2 which often has the bottom stroke truncated so that it may look like the number 7.

Elsie Fearns? TL-EF1

The capital E version started sometime in period 1, probably around the time when Rhodian, (3272), and the large salad bowls and platters were being produced for the USA market. This would be spring of 1934. The youngest patterns seen with the capitalised letter E are few examples of 4491 and 4511 which would date to early spring 1936. From then on all examples use the lower case letter e.

Elsie Fearns? TL-EF2

The youngest pattern numbers with this signature style are a few examples 4953, 4954 and 4957, so it seems reasonable to conclude that this tube-liner stopped working with Charlotte soon after the introduction of Foxglove, Wisteria and Arabian Scroll, probably before the middle of 1937.

Production history graph showing distribution of Elsies signature styles

This production history graph shows the entire recorded output for Elsie. The number of Period 1 items seen with her mark are about 30% of what either Adams, Rose or Dora produced giving an estimated start time of spring 1934, and this would tie in nicely with the large quantity of Rhodian, Primula and Granada that she worked on. There are no significant numbers of Lotus Leaves, Turin and Aztec in the sample, so again, like for Hannah I have to speculate that she may have been an experienced tube-liner joining Charlottes team.


WARNING! Virtually all this post is speculation based on my observations, so although I hope the reader finds this interesting it could be riddled with untruths! Wouldn't it be great if the veracity could be confirmed. I am not too concerned if there are errors and I will make corrections if anyone has information to help with this. The biggest difficulty in creating a story here is who tube-lined all those unsigned Stitch, Patch and Posy items. Bumpus writes in his description of Stitch that they were worked by apprentice tube-liners and juniors.

But who were these people? If you were an apprentice or junior presumably you became skilled and a senior. But apart from a few tube-liners whose marks appear only in the mid 1930s there isn't really a large turnover or change in tube-liners. And what about all the tube-lined stitched edge Cotswold tableware? Did the same team decorate those or was there another group at the factory who are unknown?

I seriously wonder if Charlottes group of tube-liners was large enough to support this idea of a hierarchy where today we only know the senior members. Isn't it more likely that the team responded to what orders were coming in. If huge quantities of Stitch were ordered by retailers then surely everyone would have to help out to complete the orders.

It's a mystery - or perhaps someone can help with the answer.


More tube-liner profiles to follow........

Friday, 4 July 2014

“Collecting Rhead Pottery” by Bernard Bumpus

I see that the 1999 book by Bernard Bumpus “Collecting Rhead Pottery” has been scanned and is now available online for everyone to view. The cover and title have changed but it looks at first glance to be the same book.

Now anyone who has access to a computer can refer to the most important information source about the Rhead family.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Charlotte Rhead backstamps & production history framework.

Bernard Bumpus in "Collecting Rhead Pottery", identified eight backstamp styles and I continued to use his numbering system as the basis for my work on the website. To study the complete production of Crown Ducal requires the documentation of a much larger number of backstamps and the Bumpus numbering system is not helpful. I have previously documented dozens of backstamp styles in previous posts, But this one is an edited catalogue of backstamp types primarily for collectors of Charlotte Rhead pottery, (or more accurately, Crown Ducal tube-lined pottery).

It lists the Bumpus and codes alongside my own numbering system and proposes dividing the Crown Ducal tube-lining history of Crown Ducal ware into "Periods" based on the backstamps used, (and if necessary some other criteria). My purpose in doing this is to simplify time into chunks that can define when an item of Crown Ducal tube-lined pottery was made. I am preparing some other blog posts which will refer to the production history of Rhead items and I need the most concise way of doing it. Although the exact dates of these Period boundaries are unknown I will offer reasoned best estimates. Of course I would welcome any information from readers that would help to date these events more precisely.

Period 1 (approximately January 1933 -December 1934)

Period 1 is deemed to start when Charlotte arrives at the company. I have not found any documents with her start date at Richardsons, but I think that Bumpus was correct when he said early 1933. The start of 1933 would be ideal. We know that Charlottes earliest known design for Crown Ducal, Byzantine, (2681), was featured in the trade press of March 1933. January 1933 would be an excellent estimated start date and allows for the lead time prior to publication, and time for settling in and producing a quantity of her first designs.

Charlotte Rhead - Period 1 backstamps

Please note that  Period 1 represents the time while Charlotte was working at Richardsons and the company was applying these types of backstamps to their tube-lined productions. It does not mean these were the only backstamps that the company were using at this time, but they are the only ones I have seen on Charlottes tube-lined designs made until the switch to Period 2 backstamp types.

Bumpus mentions that the backstamp I refer to as type 241, (with WARE between CROWN DUCAL and ENGLAND), is used occasionally. I have never seen this backstamp on a Charlotte Rhead design.  I suspect that he saw this mark on the base of the Crown Ducal sgrafitto designs. He thought that these might be the work of Charlotte based on stylistic grounds, but I find this very difficult to believe. Why would Richardsons employ the foremost tube-lining designer of the time and have her earliest commissions be sgrafitto productions for which she had no recent commercial track record? The decoration is very sloppy compared with what she had done at Burgess and Leigh and what she would continue to do for Crown Ducal, also the colour palette used bears no relation to what she used before or after. They would have to be very early designs, as many are seen with the 1920s type 110 backstamp and therefore needed to have predated Byzantine. But it is true they were still in production once Charlotte had arrived.

There may have been Charlotte Rhead tube-lined designs with the type 110 backstamp from Period 1, but I have not conclusively identified an example. Normally this mark was applied to the small and awkward shapes like table lamps and very small items. Most of the examples I have seen were either on patterns that were introduced at the BIF in 1935 or later, or for earlier patterns like 2801 or 3274 for which the production date is ambiguous. At any rate the backstamp changeover on these awkward shapes does not follow the same Period boundaries so I will return to this subject later.

When did Period 1 end? Almost certainly towards the end of 1934 or early 1935. Here are some observations that would need to fit with any proposed Period boundary.

Less than 1% of Hydrangea, (3797), or Blue Peony, (4016), examples have Period 1 backstamps. I have not yet seen a Patch, (4015), Omar, (4036) or Persian Rose, (4040), example from Period 1. The Pottery Gazette of February 1935 talks of Hydrangea, (3797), Blue Peony, (4016) and Persian Rose, (4040) all being new patterns. The same article also discusses Stitch, (3274), an earlier design, of which about 10% of examples are from Period 1. The majority, (nearly 90%), of Granada, (3321), items are Period 1 and being an uncommon design we have to assume it did not have a long production run despite the company continuing to advertise it in early 1935.

With regard to other Crown Ducal productions from this time, the youngest pattern number seen with a Period 1 backstamp is 4183, a freehand enamelled floral tableware design on the Victory shape. Although, the single example with the early backstamp was on a lemonade jug, so perhaps the larger shape may indicate it was a prototype to show off the design, certainly all the other tableware examples I have seen of this design had Period 2 backstamps. The youngest well known tableware design, that is very rarely found from Period 1 are Charlottes Ellesmere/Wenlock/Breedon patterns, (4009/4010/4011). These fit closely in pattern number with Blue Peony and they are also discussed in the same Pottery Gazette article of February 1935; therefore, if this cluster of designs can be dated I believe that would be a good estimate of the Period 1 - Period 2 boundary.

The prototype of Blue Peony, (in Byzantine colours), that is illustrated on the late George Connors website is one of only two Blue Peony examples I have seen from Period 1. I like the idea that the prototype is Period 1, but the main production for Blue Peony was during Period 2. If the Pottery Gazette were reviewing these new designs in January and publishing in February with a view to them being seen at the British Industries Fair in March, then New Year 1935 might be a reasonable date for the changeover. One would then have to find an explanation for why there are not more examples of Hydrangea from Period 1. Perhaps because the tube-liners were all too busy completing orders for Rhodian, (3272), and Stitch, (3274), which were the two most popular tube-lined designs that straddle the Period 1 - Period 2 boundary. The company may have felt that while the staff were busy with existing orders they could hold on to Hydrangea to be part of their launch of new designs at the BIF. It is all guesswork!

Popular Charlotte Rhead tube-lined patterns designed during Period 1:
  • 2681 Byzantine
  • 2682 Lotus Leaves
  • 2691 Turin
  • 2800 Aztec
  • 2801 Byzantine/Danube
  • 3052 Persino
  • Nursery Ware
  • USA Salad Bowls and Platters
  • 3272 Rhodian
  • 3274 Stitch
  • ???? Primula (number unknown but has an almost identical production profile to Granada and therefore placed here)
  • 3321 Granada
  • 3797 Hydrangea (possibly not in commercial production until Period 2)
  • 4015 Patch (possibly not in commercial production until Period 2)
  • 4016 Blue Peony (possibly not in commercial production until Period 2)


Period 2 (approximately January 1935 -September 1939)


The four years and nine months that I allocate to Period 2 were the most productive with regard to the number of Rhead tube-lined designs and the quantity of examples produced, (as estimated by what has been seen for sale over the past few years).

Charlotte Rhead - Period 2 backstamps

The end of Period 2 occurs sometime after the introduction of Fruit Border, (5802), and Palermo, (5803), but before Circular Fruits, (5982). No examples of Circular Fruits or younger designs have been seen with the backstamps defining Period 2.

Fruit Border and Palermo start to appear in photographic advertisements in the Pottery Gazette from March 1939. The company usually waited a little while for designs to be popular before using them in advertisements and since there are quite a few examples, especially of Fruit Border, from Period 2 one might think that production started well before the end of 1938, however this is difficult to reconcile with other observations. The youngest tableware with Period 2 marks is the "Sunshine Salad Ware", (5787), textured with a crinkled surface radiating from the centre, with yellow glaze and orange brushed edge. This supports the premise that the Period boundary occurred soon after pattern number 5800 but does not help with a date.

Elsewhere, Tarragona, (5623), was regarded as "new" in the November 1938 issue of the Pottery Gazette whereas its pattern number might suggest it was designed in the early summer of 1938. Pattern book references to dates were rarely entered at the time of the design and are more likely to refer to subsequent correspondence with clients. There are entries for April 1938 (pattern 5572), July 1939, (pattern 5927) and January 1940 for Charlottes Trellis pattern 6016, (which is deemed an accurate date for the design).

Tableware pattern 5784 is advertised in the Pottery Gazette of  February 1939, and even without using this as a data point for age calculation the pattern design would date to January 1939. This makes me comfortable with my design date estimation. Therefore, if Fruit Border and Palermo were designed in February 1939 at the latest, and there are significant numbers with Period 2 marks, I believe the Period 2 - Period 3 boundary has to be close to the design date for Circular Fruits, (5982), and Ankara, (5983). Late summer, say, September 1939 would be about the latest possible time. This would allow a reasonable amount of time to account for the number of Fruit Border examples seen from Period 2. WW2 started in September 1939 and there may be a connection between this event and all the subsequent chaotic base markings that define Period 3. It should be noted that there are no tableware designs within the pattern number range between Sunshine Salad Ware and Circular Fruits that can support this proposal. I am hoping that this lack of evidence is because there were no new, popular tableware patterns introduced during this time that used these same backstamps.

Popular Charlotte Rhead tube-lined patterns designed during Period 2:
  • 4036 Omar
  • 4040 Persian Rose
  • 4088 Patch
  • 4100 Orange Chain
  • 4298 Green Chain
  • 4300 Tudor Rose
  • 4318 Tudor Rose
  • 4491 Tudor Rose
  • 4511 Manchu
  • 4519 Coloured Snowdrops
  • 4521 Blue Posy
  • 4538 Blossom
  • 4724 Coronation
  • 4725 Coronation
  • 4794 Blue Tulips
  • 4795 Spanish Tree
  • 4903 Stitch Variation
  • 4921 Golden Leaves
  • 4922 Florian
  • 4923 Chains and Panels
  • 4924 Carnation
  • 4926 Arabian Scroll
  • 4953 Foxglove
  • 4954 Wisteria
  • 4957 Arabian Scroll
  • 5391 Persian Leaf
  • 5393 Tudor Rose
  • 5411 Caliph
  • 5623 Tarragona
  • 5802 Fruit Border
  • 5803 Palermo

Period 3 (approximately October 1939 - June 1942)


World War II has begun and until 18th June 1942, when the stringent restrictions on decorated pottery were introduced, it would appear that tube-lined decorative pottery continued to be made and sold. Observations suggest that production was about 50% of pre-war levels which seems quite impressive considering the number of staff that must have left the industry and the hardships that would have curtailed spending on luxuries.
Charlotte Rhead - Period 3 backstamps

The above backstamp styles all signify a tube-lined item made during Period 3 with the exception of the small AGR8/Type 401 style which if found on a small item or lamp may mean a different date, (see section on small and awkward shapes).

The Period 3 styles were not applied randomly. I have mentioned clusters of various types for various patterns in my Backstamps - Part 3 post, but I do not feel confident enough to elaborate further on how or why the marks come to be distributed in this way.

The initial tube-lined designs of Period 3 were Circular Fruits, (5982) and Ankara, (5983). These were supplemented by Trellis, (6106), at the beginning of 1940 and Mexican, (6189), in the summer of 1940. Basket, (6198) and Fruits and Leaves, (6353) followed but made a more modest contribution. The rest of the production consisted of older popular designs, particularly Golden Leaves, (4921, which is the most commonly found pattern from Period 3. The other favourites at this time were Persian Leaf, (5411),  Caliph, (5411), Tarragona, (5623), Fruit Border, (5802) and Palermo, (5803).

An interesting point to note is that several of Charlottes earlier designs reappear or continued in production at this time, but almost exclusively on chargers, Byzantine, (2681), Rhodian, (3272), Blue Peony, (4015), Green Chain, (4298), Tudor Rose, (4491), Manchu, (4511) and Arabian Scroll, (4926) all fit into this category.

The end of Period 3 marks the intensifying of the restrictions on the sale of decorated pottery in the United Kingdom. This process began in October 1941 and Bernard Bumpus is vague about exactly when Charlotte left the company. He is sure that Charlotte was at HJ Wood Ltd by July 1942. I doubt that much new design work would have occurred after October 1941, so it is possible that Charlotte could have left any time between October 1941 and June 1942. For the present I shall keep June 1942 as the big changeover date as it ties in with the government restrictions on decorated pottery which would deny an outlet for the work of an experienced designer like Charlotte. It would also force the departure for most of Charlottes team of skilled decorators, and oblige the company to introduce a single backstamp style.

Popular Charlotte Rhead tube-lined patterns designed during Period 3:
  • 5982 Fruit Border
  • 5983 Ankara
  • 6016 Trellis
  • 6189 Mexican
  • 6198 Basket
  • 6353 Fruits and Leaves

Period 4 (approximately July 1942 - August 1952)


Periods 4, 5 & 6 represent time when Charlotte was no longer involved with Crown Ducal and the majoity of it was after her death. But it is important to document these marks as they are found on examples of her designs.

Please note that the backstamps marked AGR5 for Periods 3 and 4 are different. A casual glance and you may think they are the same but the details of the crown/plumes/crest differ. Each one defines a distinctly different time period.

The dates July 1942 - August 1952 are the core period of the wartime government restrictions on decorated pottery. The Period 4 backstamp style, type 481 is known to be from this time as it can be found with the printed letter "B" which is the AG Richardson & Co. Ltd price band indicator for tableware made while these restrictions were in force. I do not have any other evidence that these are the start and end dates when this backstamp was used. There is a possibility that the backstamp continued to be used into 1953. Quite a few hand decorated plates have been seen, signed and dated on the reverse and one example has the type 481 backstamp and is dated 1953. Because there is no direct link to the factory or company information, we have no way of knowing if these are Crown Ducal productions or the work of a hobbyist or a student decorating blank plates.

Charlotte Rhead - Period 4 backstamp

Patterns found from this Period fall into one of two categories the post-Rhead era designs, 6567, 6568, 6569, 6570, 6571, 6572 and 6573, or earlier Charlotte Rhead designs that had remained popular and continued to be made after she had left the company.

The most common Rhead designs are Persian Rose, (4040), Golden Leaves, (4921), Fruit Border, 5802) and Ankara, (5983). Others known to exist are Rhodian, (3272), Tudor Rose, (4491), Tarragona, (5623), Circular Fruits, (5982), Trellis, (6106), Mexican, (6189) and Fruits and Leaves, (6353). The Nursery Ware patterns Who Said Dinner, (3131) and Little Boy Blue, (3133), also remained in production.

No examples have the facsimile Rhead signature, though they often have the pattern number tube-lined and the mark of the tube-liner. The two marks most often seen are L or a simple dot. Occasionally seen are 11 and 111.

Period 5 (approximately September 1942 - late 1950s)


I have not found much period documentation to help with this mark except for an article entitled Crown Ducal at Home in the magazine Pottery and Glass from 1955. In it are illustrated the reintroduced version of Green Chain, (4298), and the pink and grey version of Ankara, (6778). Hand decorated plates exist signed and dated from 1959 with this mark. Therefore after Period 4, I believe it is likely that most of the remainder of the 1950s can be categorised Period 5.

Charlotte Rhead - Period 5 backstamp

In the Collecting Rhead Pottery book by Bernard Bumpus he wrote that this mark was used from 1933. It is difficult to understand what he was thinking about. A possible connection is that Charlottes orange and black stitched edge tableware, (pattern 3049), and some nursery ware remained in production for decades and examples have been seen with the Period 5 backstamp. Those designs date to 1933, but backstamps define the date of production not design, so perhaps that was his error.

Similar to Period 4, patterns are either post-Rhead era designs, 6778, 6822, 6884, 6907, 6918, 6927 and 7065, or earlier Charlotte Rhead designs that had remained popular and continued to be made after she had left the company. During Period 5 these were 3131, 3133, 4040, 4298, 4921, 5803 (pink version) and 5983.

Again, as for Period 4, no examples have the facsimile Rhead signature, though they often have the pattern number tube-lined and the mark of the tube-liner. The marks most often seen are L, a simple dot, 11 and 111.

Period 6 (approximately late 1950s - early 1960s)


This is the youngest mark seen on Crown Ducal tube-lined pottery and I have not found any documentation to help with its date range. Hand decorated plates dated 1960 exist with this backstamp and Bernard Bumpus in his book writes that "production did continue until at least 1962". Hopefully there may be some Crown Ducal advertisements in the trade journals or general press that may help link patterns to dates and marks.

Charlotte Rhead - Period 6 backstamp

Both Bumpus and Shaw  have a start date of mid 1930s for this mark in their publications and I have no idea what they were looking at.

Post-Rhead era patterns 6778, 6907, 6927, 7065 and 7069 may have this mark, (there are also some unnumbered, tube-lined designs with post war glazes and colours, all experiments from the late 50s-early 60s). One or two Golden Leaves, (4921), chargers have been seen with this backstamp and marked L, also a nursery ware plate of Little Boy Blue, (3133).

The Little Boy Blue Plate, is proof that this is the Charlotte Rhead design with the longest production history, 1933 until possibly 1962? At least twenty six, maybe almost thirty years - I think Charlotte would be proud.

Small and Awkward Shapes


Table lamps, condiment dishes and vases with very small bases tend not to have backstamps that conform to the rules outlined above. Although it is possible to construct a separate scheme for them, there are several examples that do not obey the rules and the sample size of observations is rather small.

Charlotte Rhead backstamps on small  & awkward shaped items

Type 110 are the oldest group. Seen to date on lamps and condiment dishes with the youngest pattern being Tudor Rose, (4491). The full list of pattern seen is 2801, 3274, 3797, 4088, 4100 & 4491 which would take us from 1933 into 1936.

Type 401 appeared in 1936 and continued to be used until at least the beginning of the wartime restrictions on decorated pottery. It has been found with patterns 3797, 4088, 4491, 4511, 4921, 6016 and 6189.

Type 403 is found only on items produced in the post-Rhead era, reintroductions of 4040, 5983, and later designs 6568 and 6778.

However several post-Rhead era shapes and patterns have been found with type 401, so be careful and use other criteria in conjunction with the backstamp to date an item with type 401.

End note


I hope my reasoning is comprehensible and that this will be a useful framework for documenting the production history of Charlottes Crown Ducal designs. If previously unseen period documents, anecdotal evidence or a pot with markings that do not fit the model mean the period boundaries dates need changing - then so be it.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Crown Ducal backstamps. Part 3, from the mid/late 1930s until 1952

Here we have part three of my Crown Ducal backstamp styles research. This section documents the styles used from before the start of WW2 until the end of the UK restrictions on decorated pottery in 1952.

As in the previous sections, I have numbered the backstamp styles for my own cataloguing purposes and they do not reference the work of anyone else. Also the usual caveats apply that this is a work in progress based on observations rather than documentary evidence - of which I haven't found any of use.

Part 1 approx 1915-1929

Part 2 approx 1929-1936

Through the mid 1930s until around 1938 the company had a quite simple regime of using mostly printed backstamp styles according to the tableware shape range, design style or a standard stamp for their fancies. Then during the summer of 1936 more styles start to appear. I ended part 2 of the backstamp blog with a special printed style for Charlotte Rheads snow glaze tableware. 

From 1936 there were some more new backstamp styles introduced. The plain little MADE IN ENGLAND, type 401, is believed to have originally been created to replace the use of type 110 on small or awkward shaped items. The company continued to use the 1920s style on lamps and small condiment dishes up until the end of 1935 as witnessed by its use on Charlotte Rhead patterns Orange Chain, (4100), and Tudor Rose, (4491). From 1936 onward the lamps tend to get marked with the backstamp type 401.
Type 401

A special version of this simple backstamp, type 402, was created for mugs designed for the Coronation of Edward VIII. The short mugs have REGD. NO. 813982 and the tall mugs REGD. NO. 813982.

Type 402

Sometime in 1939 when Charlottes Persian Leaf, (5391) and Caliph, (5411), patterns are in full production there is a short period when the simple MADE IN ENGLAND, type 401, gets put on any shape of Rhead tube-lined pattern and a lot of tableware too. I have never understood why the company produced ware without their own company name or trade mark on it. WW2 was approaching so there is a strong possibility that all sorts of upheavals were occurring for businesses. Perhaps the employees who made the base mark prints joined the war effort and Richardsons just had to carry on with the staff and materials they had to hand to continue production.

Type 411
Again, in 1936 another backstamp design, (type 411), was produced, this time a self coloured lithograph, (transfer), and was applied mostly to their white glazed Avon range tableware. The general style of this backstamp will be familiar to those who have seen very early Crown Ducal ware, and I described many versions of the strap and buckle style in my blog on backstamps – part 1. The style presented here is distinctly different for many reasons but the most obvious is the addition of MADE IN ENGLAND that follows the bottom curvature of the strap. This is a characteristic of all the strap and buckle designs from the mid 1930s onwards.

Type 412
The Empress pattern, (4746), would be a good example of one of the earlier designs that used it, but any Avon shaped ware, typically with coloured bands, floral transfers and printed repeating motif borders in gold are likely to have this style. My instinct tells me that this self coloured lithograph backstamp may have been created to replace all other backstamp styles. I have seen this style used on freehand enamel tableware patterns and even Charlotte Rhead tube-lined fancies, specifically patterns 5623, 5802 and 5803. Frequently the lithograph backstamp type 411, was accompanied by the small MADE IN ENGLAND print backstamp, type 401. When they occur together, I name the grouping backstamp type 412 because there may be some significance of the pairing I have yet to grasp. This duplication was a very common occurrence so there must have been a purpose for it. Perhaps the MADE IN ENGLAND in the lithograph was too prone to damage or was just regarded as too small so it had to be supplemented. But it appears to have ended up being predominantly used on items with lithographs in their design, either floral borders and centres or all over chintz patterns.

In 1938 there appears a whole new series of printed, strap and buckle versions specifically for particular print and enamel patterns. I group these as type 421. I have seen them on patterns Dell, (5636), Malvern, (5645), Bewdley, (5646), Delamere, (5647), Ganges, (5755), Devon, (5797), Vale, (5821), Tabor, (5963), and Andover, (5966).

Various examples of type 421
The pattern name and number often seem to be an integral part of the backstamp print., but for some patterns the name and number are above the trade mark and for others, below. The details of the strap and buckle styles are all slightly different so I suppose each pattern has its own printed backstamp style but I'm not going to create a new type number for each pattern! Also, this series needs further study because examples of Dell have been seen with different versions. Not all designs were given names and so there are examples that fall into the type 421 category without names or numbers in the backstamp.

So more observations and thought are needed here and for the time being I am reserving type 421 as a group container for late 1930s, (and early 1940s?), print and enamel designs. Furthermore, be aware not to confuse them with post war named print and enamel design - Type 661 shown below.

Type 661
Jumping ahead to the mid 1950s a very similar style is adopted for post war print and enamel designs like Peover, (6514), Wilmslow, (6515), Rydal, (6591) and Selby. I am inserting them here so readers are aware of the differences. The younger versions tend to be crisper in outline, (possibly commercially produced lithographs), pattern numbers are absent and there is often the text HAND COLOURED UNDERGLAZE above the crown and crest.

Back to late 1938, to recap, (refer back to part 2 of the backstamp blog for details):
  • Most Charlotte Rhead tube-lined items and other fancies will be marked with type 245
  • Tableware on Victory shape has type 246
  • Tableware on Cotswold shape has type 247
  • Tableware on Queen Anne shape has type 252 or 253
  • Tableware on Avon shape will probably have the new lithograph type 411 and most likely with the addition of the type 401 MADE IN ENGLAND.
  • Other tableware ranges such as Gem or Premier will likely have type 245
  • Small items and awkward shapes will have type 401
  • Snow glaze tableware will have type 261
  • Floral print and enamel designs from Dell, 5636), onwards have their own variation of type 421
Then as we approach or begin 1939 a significant number of items get marked with only type 401. This includes a lot of Charlottes tube-lined designs particular 4016, 4491, 4921, 5391, 5411 and 5623. If my deductions are correct then this provides a neat snapshot of which Rhead patterns were popular at that time.

In early 1939 when Fruit Border, (5802) and Palermo, (5803), were introduced the company flirted with the idea of using the lithograph, type 411 on Rhead items. I have only seen 5 examples, two on 5803, one on 5802 and two on Tarragona, (5623). I don't think it worked well, perhaps the uneven mottled glazes did not suit the delicate detail of the lithograph. The supporting evidence for the timing of these backstamp changeovers is that the youngest Crown Ducal patterns seen with type 245 backstamps are Sunshine Salad Ware, (5787), Fruit Border, (5802) and Palermo, (5803).

So, in 1939 type 411/412 seems to remain the standard for mostly white glazed Avon shape, and the new print and enamel tableware patterns get individually designed printed backstamps from the type 421 style group. But it is not that simple, there is yet another group of styles that are to be found on lithograph and print and enamel tableware which like the 421 group is a work in progress for me. I name them type 415, but the details of the script letters can be different so it is a collection of similar styles. I believe they are lithographs but  I can't be certain.

Various examples of type 415
Examples of this style have been seen on print and enamel designs ranging from pattern 4561 to 5971 and Avon shaped tableware with white glaze with or without lithograph decoration from pattern 5055 to 5212. Such a range of patterns makes it difficult to place it in sequence especially as these patterns have been seen with other backstamps.

A new lithograph is crafted for fancies, particularly Charlotte Rhead patterns - type 461.

Type 461
Type 461 is larger and simpler than type 411 and so probably has a better chance of being legible on mottled glazes. The patterns it is most likely to be found on are 5982, 5983 and 6016 which would date its use to early 1940. It has been seen on over a dozen designs on fancies, (mostly tube-lined), but this is not a common backstamp style and could not have been in use for more than a few months at most.

There are two more backstamp styles found on Crown Ducal Rhead items that have facsimile signatures, (implying they were made while Charlotte was still working  for the company).

Type 471

Type 472

Type 465

Type 471 is yet another printed strap and buckle design, it is the most common style found on Rhead items from this period of the late 30s early 40s, although I have yet to see it on a signed piece with patterns 6189, 6198 or 6353. It is most commonly found on patterns 5623, 5802, 5982, 5983 and 6016, as well as lots of earlier designs with extended production runs. A version of type 471 with the addition of the registration number for the Cotswold shape tableware defines type 472 and is presumably a replacement for type 247.

Type 465 is most common on patterns 6016 and 6189. There are quite a few examples also on 5802, 5982, 5983 and importantly, all signed examples of 6189, 6198 and 6353.

It is extremely difficult to be certain about any of this. The observations are clear that there are distinct clusters of Rhead patterns with these short lived backstamp styles, (types 401, 411, 461 and 465),  and yet there is an overwhelming number of examples with the type 471 style. It is impossible to create a sequence where type 471 slots in between a pair of the other styles. I think the best explanation is that when type 245 stopped being used in early 1939, and the use of the lithograph type 411 proved impractical, the company introduced the print type 471, they dabbled with type 461 for a little while but stopped using it, reverting to 471, then tried type 465 until the government introduced the restrictions on decorated pottery and the company had to settle on one style only for all its ware, and that was yet another variation of  the strap and buckle style.

This is a good time to mention a paper which helps to put in perspective what was going on in the pottery industry during the war.

In the Journal of the Northern Ceramic Society Volume 12 from 1995 there is a paper entitled Ten Plain Years: The British Pottery Industry 1942-1952 by Kathy Niblett.

It explains the rules and consequences to the Staffordshire potteries of concentrating production to a reduced number of factories in order to save materials, energy and labour as these were needed elsewhere for the war. The process was initiated in the autumn of 1941, but by the summer of 1942 they were extended to restrict the sale of decorated pottery in the home market. Some restrictions were relaxed in 1945 and subsequent years but they were not fully lifted until August 1952.

The gist of the paper with regard to A G Richardson and Co Ltd is that in 1941 the company was designated a “Nucleus Firm” by the Board of Trade. This meant it was able to continue production at its own site, (The Gordon Pottery, Tunstall), but that the work done at the Britannia Pottery in Cobridge would be moved to Tunstall. This “concentration” of the industry was a restructuring to allow people to leave the the pottery trade to work in the armed forces or industries in demand for the war effort. Decorated pottery required a lot of man-hours and energy costs for extra firing in the kilns. These were to become luxuries generally denied to the home market, but some production would continue for sale abroad in order to earn foreign currency. The domestic market would soon get used to plain, undecorated tableware.

My understanding is that the rules were strict and even a backstamp could be deemed decoration and so the company would not be using a large number of styles at this time. Each company was allotted a price band that their ware could be sold for. Richardsons price band for tableware was "B", and one can occasionally find tableware with a backstamp accompanied by the letter B. This would indicate that the ware was made during the period of price controls from June 1942 until August 1952.

Type 481

Type 482

Type 481 appears to be the general style that Richardsons used during the period of the war time pottery restrictions, (1942-1952). Type 482 is the same mark but found with the letter "B" denoting the price band for tableware. They are very similar to type 471 except that the crest plumes are slightly different and there are no pierced holes in the crown beneath the plumes.

For small and awkward shaped items of Crown Ducal produced at this time the company used a modified form of  type 401 with the addition of A.G.R. which I have named type 405.

Type 405
This brings to a close my review of the backstamp styles used until the ending of the WW2 pottery restrictions in 1952. Please treat all this as my best guess. There are bound to be errors and omissions.

For post 1952 productions I have not started to record what was used on tableware. It will probably be the most difficult as there are hardly any numbered patterns with which to build a reference framework for age determination. For the fancies, we know that a new style was introduced sometime between August 1952 and the beginning of 1955, here named type 501. This backstamp will be familiar to collectors of tube-lined Crown Ducal pottery that was made after the war. Particularly the pink and grey enamelled designs, 6778, 6822, 6884, 6907, 6918 and 6927. The Pink Palermo design which carries the original 5803 pattern number and later productions of Persian Rose, 4040, Green Chain, 4298 and Golden Leaves, 4921 can also be found with this backstamp. A couple of the nursery ware patterns Who Said Dinner?, 3131 and Little Boy Blue, 3133 also continued in production and have this mark.

Type 501
As an end note I feel quite chuffed to have discovered a technique for confirming if a tube-lined piece of Crown Ducal was made whilst Charlotte was still at Richardsons or if it was made after she had left the company. Assuming Charlotte departed around the time when the the Board of Trade restrictions were introduced along with most of her colleagues, and the backstamp syle, (type 481), was introduced around the same time, and the backstamp is legible; then there appears to be a test to determine if an item was made whilst Charlotte was still an employee.

I have tested several examples, and apart from the legibility issue of smudgy backstamps, all those that I have seen with distinctive type 471 or 481 styles do pass the test. That is to say, age determination by backstamp type supports the results of other tests based on pattern, shape and the tube-lined markings. So collectors can remain calm, the discovery has not revealed any surprises. So hopefully all those ambiguous examples with the old AGR5 group style backstamp, without signatures, can have their age categorised with more confidence. Where it has proved to be most helpful is in the dating of nursery ware which rarely have base markings other than the backstamp. Also examples of the simpler designs like Circular Fruits, (5982), which often did not get marked by the tube-liner and remained in production throughout the war can now be dated more precisely.

I am open to being shown wrong. If you have an example of tube-lined pottery with backstamp type 481 with a facsimile Rhead signature please let me know. Similarly if you have a tube-lined piece with a type 471 and it has a pattern number greater than 6353 I would like to know.

The email address is on the website.

Left, type 471 Charlotte Rhead era - Right, type 481 post Charlotte Rhead era

Monday, 20 January 2014

Charlotte Rhead's design sources for Aztec (2800) and Stitch (3274)

It will come as no surprise to collectors of Charlotte Rhead pottery that it is easy to identify the inspiration for so many of her designs. Coming from a family of artists and a home full of art there would be no shortage of ideas.

It has been fascinating to follow the Rhead Cronin Collection sales at Bearnes Hampton and Littlewood where some tube-lined tiles are accompanied by pictures of the same subject painted by her father. It is wonderful to see the association of these artworks.

With regard to her Crown Ducal tube-lined portfolio there are several patterns where one can be reasonably confident of her inspiration source. Here are a few:

Primroses drawn by George Woolliscroft Rhead
  • Primula could have been modelled so easily on her grandfather’s work at Copeland. Search with Google images for CF Hurten Copeland primroses and you should find what I mean. Or perhaps from George Woolliscroft Rhead's  "Studies in Plant Form" drawings.
  • Manchu, the dragon was previously interpreted by her father when he was at Woods & Sons, but of course the Chinese version is yet much older still.
  • Blossom uses a floral style crafted in slip clay very similar to a pattern that her father Frederick designed for Liberty & Co whilst he was working at Wardles.
  • Omar, I’ll wager would have been inspired by her uncles George Woolliscroft and Louis who worked together on a project to illustrate the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

In the first tranche of the Rhead Cronin Collection sale on 17/12/2013, there were two lots that provided me with new insight into the design origins of Charlotte’s Crown Ducal designs, Stitch, (3274) and Aztec, 2800).

Stitch, (3274), design influence


Crown Ducal Stitch (3274) and Ditmar Urbach ewers.

Picture reproduced with kind permission of Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood

Lot 2 comprised of two Stitch, (3274), items and two ewers in a similar pattern by the Czech company, Ditmar Urbach. Bernard Bumpus notes the design connection between the two in the 1987 edition of his book and I have tried in vain to get definitive evidence of which design is the older. But with the Ditmar Urbach ewers in the possession of the Rhead family I feel that Charlotte probably based her design on the Czech pattern. 

Ditmar Urbach ceased to exist in its pre-war form after Germany took over the factory in 1938. This is well after 1933 when Stitch was designed, but I have been unable to determine the design date for their “version” of Stitch. Although this is all rather inconclusive the decider for me is that after Charlotte adapted the design for Crown Ducal she then adapted the shape of the ewer for her patterns at HJ Woods Bursleyware after WW2. The coincidences are too extraordinary to ignore.

If someone does have design date information for Ditmar Urbach patterns please let me know.

It should be emphasised that there is no mistaking the two productions. The glazes, shapes, backstamps, design details are obviously different when viewed side by side. Also the Czech version is not tube-lined, the stitches are thickly applied brown paint.

Ditmar Urbach style, left and Crown Ducal, right

Aztec, (2800), design influence 


Watercolours by Charlotte Rhead

Picture reproduced with kind permission of Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood

Lot 38 in the same sale were two watercolours by Charlotte Rhead of native North American women. One of the women’s clothes incorporates the stepped pyramid symbol similar to that used in her Aztec pattern pottery.

I do not know of any period references to Crown Ducal pattern 2800 and the design predates the start of the numbered surviving pattern books. Collectors prefer names rather than pattern numbers, and so the descriptions in the Bumpus books of the contemporary interest in Aztec architecture have lent the name Aztec to the design. 

Although the name Aztec is quite appropriate for the familiar design motif from the Latin American pyramids, I now believe that Charlotte was looking at North American culture and symbols rather than those from further south. Not only does Charlotte use the stepped pyramid for “Aztec”, but there is also the rare, unnumbered design with wavy lines in exactly the same colour palette and from around the same time as pattern 2800. My amateurish, quick look research on the internet finds that the stepped pyramid means “snow cloud” and the wavy line symbol means “running water”. 

Charlotte Rhead Crown Ducal 12" charger Aztec, (2800) with Snow Cloud motif

Charlotte Rhead Crown Ducal shape 148 unnumbered design with Running Water motif

If further evidence is required that Charlotte was thinking about native North American culture. Then study of the Crown Ducal pattern books reveals that pattern 3594 is a 17” Cotswold shape supper tray, (17” charger), enamelled with the profile of a native North American  chief. And there’s that stepped pyramid symbol again in the feathered headdress band.

Central design for Crown Ducal pattern 3594

Friday, 25 October 2013

Crown Ducal Period Advertising

Period advertising material for Crown Ducal can be found online in projects that are scanning old newspapers. I found hundreds of examples within a few hours searching, but the majority are not explicit about the pattern and so are of no real value, but I do believe this could be useful resource to help with the production history of Crown Ducal ware.

The main surprise for me was for how long the popular patterns remained in production. One always felt that the well known patterns, Red Tree, Sunburst and Bristol had long production runs, but if one takes the advertising at face value there could have been quite a few designs that Richardsons were able to rely upon throughout the 30s, 40s and 50's. 

Here are a few observations that caught my eye.

Lithograph Rosalie on Florentine tableware shape, ivory glaze & gold edge

Rosalie on Florentine shape, ivory glaze and gold edge
Quite a common pattern and easily found at auction but I never knew how old the design was. The standard Rosalie on Florentine shape, ivory glaze with gold edge is not recorded in the surviving pattern books. The transfer, (made by Ratauds, No.6319), is known to exist from the early 1930s because it exists with other shapes or glazes. There is publicity material for Rosalie in a trade magazine from 1955 but the Florentine shape itself dates to about 1930. There was always the possibility that Rosalie on Florentine could have been either a post war introduction or date to early 1930’s but it is great to have found the evidence of its long production history.

Advertisement in The Binghampton Press 5 October 1943

So far I have found advertisements for Rosalie in the:

Albany (New York) Evening News 2 June 1933
Leader Post (Regina) 15 October 1935
The Binghampton Press (New York) 13 May 1940
The Binghampton Press (New York) 30 April 1943
The Binghampton Press (New York) 5 October1943 (illustrated)
The Knickerbocker News (Albany New York) 6 June 1945
The Binghampton Press (New York) 13 July 1945 (illustrated)
The Binghampton Press (New York) 29 September 1949
Pottery and Glass April 1955
Western Herald (NSW) 20 July 1956

The June 1933 advert is significant because the pattern books start at pattern 2900 which dates to May 1933 and so the pattern probably predates the start of these documents by a few months or a year. Therefore there is good evidence that the pattern remained in production for almost 25 years, (possibly longer).

Empress pattern (4746) on Avon shape tableware

The advertisement shown above with Rosalie also promotes the Empress pattern. This is a design with a known pattern number, 4746, which dates to the summer of 1936. It is one of the earliest popular designs that Crown Ducal created with a rich coloured band on the Avon shape and with gold coloured detailing and floral transfers. The same design was also made with a maroon, (deep pink), band as pattern 4745 and a green band as pattern 4747. I believe the name Empress was used for all three colour versions. The floral transfer was made by the Universal Transfer Co. Ltd. (litho number 8944). For Crown Ducal patterns it is referred to as the Yukon litho after their first pattern that used it. 

Empress pattern 4746 on Avon shape tableware
Advertisements for the Empress pattern have been found in the:

The New York Sun 2 February 1940
The Binghampton Press (New York) 13 May 1940
The Binghampton Press (New York) 19 February 1943
The Binghampton Press (New York) 5 October 1943 (illustrated)

Charm pattern (1790) on Gainsborough shape tableware

The Charm pattern is the third design illustrated in the above advertisement. This is the oldest design of the three and is one of the earliest, and most popular patterns on the Gainsborough shape. The lithograph decoration was made by the Universal Transfer Co. Ltd., (litho number 7506). From the dates of the advertisements Charm remained in production for at least 15 years. There is a mystery why examples of Charm are numbered with 1790 as do references to the design in Crown Ducal documents. But Richardsons own publicity for the launch of the pattern in the Pottery Gazette of 1930 labels it as pattern 1768, (or perhaps there is a minor design difference between the two that I am missing).

An example of Charm, 1790

Advertisements for the Charm pattern have been found in the:

The Pottery Gazette and Glass trade Review 5 February 1930 (illustrated)
The Binghampton Press (New York) 16 October 1930
The Montreal Gazette 19 October 1934 (illustrated)
The Rochester Chronicle 27 January 1937 (illustrated)
The Binghampton Press (New York) 12 January 1940
The Vancouver Sun 9 December 1942 (illustrated)
The Binghampton Press (New York) 9 July 1943 (illustrated)
The Binghampton Press (New York) 5 October 1943 (illustrated)
The Binghampton Press (New York) 13 July 1945 (illustrated)

Advertisement in The Montreal Gazette 19 October 1934

The George Washington bicentenary commemorative plates of 1932

A series of twelve plates made for the USA market in celebration of the Washington bicentennial. Two feature articles have been found discussing the home furnishing memorabilia available including the Crown Ducal plates.

An example of a Washington bicentenary commemorative plate

Feature article in the New York Sun 25 January 1932

The feature in The New York Sun of 25th January 1932 includes the following text relating to the plates:

A whole series of Washington plates is offered by several of the stores, and each plate in the set of twelve illustrates a different event in the life of Washington. Service, dinner and dessert plates are available in this design in Crown Ducal ware, of which the borders recreate fine old eighteenth century patterns, and the colorings include dark blue, pink or mulberry on white. The center scenics show each of the houses connected with Washington Sulgrave Manor, ancestral home of the family in England; Wakefield; his birth place, and Mount Vernon. The leading events in his career are depicted, together with groups of his family, associates and friends.

Feature article in the Brooklyn Eagle Magazine 21 February 1932

A full page article in the Brooklyn Eagle Magazine of 21st February 1932 has an illustration of one of the plates and discusses the themes thus:

Another patriotic textile is somewhat broader in scope, beginning with the landing of the Pilgrims and including the boston Tea Party and Betsy Ross at work upon the flag; also reproducing the famous "Spirit of 76" and Washington Crossing the Delaware". Leutze's great painting is one of the most frequent designs to be met amongst the bicentennial decorations, as in spite of the outbursts that come now and then from some art critic denouncing the great achievement as bad art, or from a matter of fact sailor who rails against the possibility of a rowboat holding so many people and the impracticability of the father of our country standing in such attitude under such circumstances, the famous picture continues to be the symbol of patriotism and courage for Americans.

It is one of the twelve patriotic designs imprinted upon a set of Crown Ducal plates, one of the modern Staffordshire wares. And here again history repeats itself as the idea of featuring American scenes and symbols upon chinaware was first adopted by the Staffordshire potters immediately after the Revolutionary War as a means of capturing the American trade. All feelings of animosity engendered by the war were put aside in the interest of business. And upon the "Old Blue" Staffordshire ware - the tableware of early America and one of the most prized subjects of Americana - was to be found patterns representing American scenes, episodes from American history, and the likenesses of our national heroes.

In the same -colors, today - the blue, the mulberry and pink – as a century and a half ago the new Staffordshire pottery repeats itself. And among the new designs on the patriotic plates we see reproduced famous paintings and prints, "Surrender of Cornwallis." "Washington and his mother." "Adams proposing Washington as Commander-in-Chief." "Washington and His Family." also views of Mt. Vernon, Wakefield, his birthplace, and Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of the Washingtons in England.

With dated commemorative plates they end up in the sales the following year. Here is an example from the New York Sun in 1933.

Advertisement in The New York Sun 15 February 1933

The twelve designs in the series are titled:
  • Surrender of Cornwallis
  • Washington and Lafayette at Mount Vernon
  • John Adams Proposing G Washington as Commander in Chief of the American Army
  • Washington at Trenton
  • Washington crossing the Delaware
  • Washington’s Headquarters Morristown NY
  • Washington and His Family 
  • Washington and His Mother
  • Mount Vernon
  • Washington at Valley Forge
  • Birthplace of Washington at Wakefield
  • Washington Ancestral Home
Images of all the plates can be found on the New York Historical Society website

Two Queen Anne shape designs, Melrose and Vine and Charlotte Rheads Rialto and Belfast designs on Cotswold shape.

The Queen Anne shape with fluted moulding was always more popular in the USA than the UK and here are a couple of lithograph designs with ivory glaze that were mentioned in the advertisements. Vine, 3566, was designed in early 1934, and Melrose, 4041, is from the end of 1934. The Vine lithograph was made by the Universal Transfer Co. Ltd, No. 8535 and the Melrose litho was made by Ratauds.

Platter in Vine, 3556 and coffee cup in Melrose, 4041

Advertisement for Vine in The New York Sun 5 December 1934

Advertisement in The Binghampton Press 28 January 1937
The advertisement for Melrose is not illustrated with the Crown Ducal patterns but is still useful as it tells us that the design was on sale and probably in production for around 3 years. A similar production period would to apply to the other designs mentioned, Rialto, 3140 and Belfast, 3154, which are probably Charlotte Rhead designs from late summer of 1933.

Top Belfast , 3154 and below Rialto, 3140
It has been interesting to link recent images of Crown Ducal pottery to the period advertising and fortunately there is plenty of scope to revisit the subject with more patterns in a future post.