There is a lot of debate about what is Titian and what is Crown Lynn. I hope this post helps clarify things.
In brief, it works like this: Cameron Brown Snr and Dorothy Brown set up Sherwood Pottery in the Waitakeres in Auckland in about 1951. They made detailed mugs, ashtrays, toby jugs and figurines, which are sought after today. Some of this ware is marked ‘Sherwood’ in various ways. They also made blanks for Owen Salisbury, who decorated them in his Royal Oak factory near Penrose.
This mug and goose are typical of the ware made by Cameron and Beverley Brown in the early days.
In 1958 the Browns moved their operation to Henderson and renamed it Titian Studio. By 1960 they had about 16 staff, and this is the period when the ware we usually recognise as Titian was made. Quite a lot of the ware is marked, and often a letter is incorporated in the number on the base – V for vase, B for bowl, etc.
Cam and Dorothy made artware rather than cups and plates. Their exquisite pieces included a flying gull, leaping fish, a swordfish, wall birds, wall vases shaped like butterfies and flowers and fish… all carefully shaped and decorated. This butterfly wall vase from my friend Jim's collection shows the careful glazing techniques used by the Browns at Titian.
There was also a huge range of lamp bases and vases, with innovative and interesting glazes. Some of this ware carries stickers such as “Presley Ware” depending on which distributor it was made for.
Above is an interesting Presley Ware vase/bowl... I am not sure what to call it!
Wanting the funds to expand, Cam and Dorothy formed a limited liability company, Titian Potteries (1965) Ltd, and sold shares. The new factory was established in Takanini in mid-1966. By now they were making branded ware for a range of distributors, including Syliva Ware, Paramount Ware, Montrose Ware and Cambridge Ware – this is where the ‘Cambridge’ marked jugs come into the picture.
However Crown Lynn became concerned at Titian’s expansion, and began buying up shares. By 1969 Crown Lynn had a controlling shareholding, and announced a partnership with the Brown family.
This is when the confusion arises. In the ex-Titian factory, Crown Lynn began making huge amounts of domestic ware including the honey glaze ware and the white vases. These products are marked with a four-digit shape number, like this.
This ware is not Titian, it is Crown Lynn which has been made in what was previously the Titian factory. Note the four-digit shape number which was introduced when Crown Lynn took over the Titian factory.
To confuse matters further, for some reason some of this Crown Lynn ware carries the four-digit number plus the words "Titian Pottery."
Again, this jug is not Titian, it is Crown Lynn which was made in the ex-Titian factory. You can just see the 'Titian Pottery" mark on the base of this jug, along with the Crown Lynn shape number 6053 and the letters N.Z. No wonder we get confused!
Now we move on to the origins of Orzel. Sometime soon I will write more about Orzel/Adelaar/Aquila, but meanwhile here's a quick summary.
For some time the Brown family worked with Crown Lynn, but Cameron and Dorothy missed their independence and left the factory they used to own and set up a new workshop in their garage at home in Papakura. By this time their sons Cameron and Chris had joined the family enterprise. The new ware was named Orzel after the Polish Eagle. (Cam Snr was in the Polish merchant navy during the second world war – an interesting story but it will have to wait for another time!)
By 1972 the family had established a new factory, Orzel Industries at Firth St in Drury, where they mass produced the ware which we commonly recognise as Orzel. This enterprise grew and grew, at its height in the mid-1980s there were about 40 staff. Orzel was a big and busy factory. They made terracotta kitchen ware which was sold at The Warehouse, jugs, sugar bowls, etc etc etc. Unfortuately much of the Orzel ware is not marked - but after a while you get to recognise the shapes and glazes.
This delightful fat little jug is a common Orzel shape.
And there are hundreds if not thousands of Orzel salt pigs out there in the opshops.
Beer steins were a huge seller. Orzel made them for the breweries; almost without exception they are branded with a beer logo. These are for various armed services messes.
As well as Orzel, the brands Aquila and Adelaar were also made at the Orzel factory during this period.
The business had its ups and downs, but for a couple of decades Orzel was a relatively big player in the New Zealand commercial pottery field.
In the 1990s the market slowed, and after Dorothy then Cameron Snr died the business ebbed to a close. Today, Cameron Jnr and his wife Beverley – sometimes assisted by their son, also named Cameron – make kiwiana ware to sell at markets around the country. They use the brand name Sherwood.
This post does not seek to be a definitive history of Titian and Orzel. I would need to write a book to do that. But I hope it helps clarify the distinction between Titian and Crown Lynn made in the ex-Titian factory. Those four-digit shape numbers are the key!