Monday, August 27, 2012

Contemporary Ceramics - 1980s

I try not to buy more Crown Lynn but then along comes a must-have and there we go again. I can always argue that it might be needed for the new book, but in reality it's just because I want it.  But who could resist this gorgeous Elvenhood coffee pot. I paid $26 for it. It's slightly crazed but who isn't?
This coffee pot is from the 1980s Contemporary Ceramics range, which doesn't carry a Crown Lynn mark. Sales were declining and the marketers believed that Crown Lynn was seen by the NZ public as fusty and outdated so they came up with a 'fresh new' brand. For better or worse - the factory closed a few years later anyway. I read somewhere that the design is based on the native NZ bush orchid, which does seem likely when you look at it close-up.
Another Contemporary Ceramics design is our Magnolia Moon dinner set, bought (complete and hardly used) a few years ago for $30 at the Browns Bay market. I love its serene pink and grey which was designed in-house by Juliet Hawkins.
This is the base - all the Contemporary Ceramics ware has similar backstamps.
We eat off our Magnolia Moon every day. It doesn't go in the dishwasher because we don't have one, and it's still in near perfect condition. Apart from a bread and butter plate that hit the floor a while ago!
Happy collecting

Thursday, August 23, 2012

To pay or not to pay...

Not long ago I paid $25 for this little egg cup.  You may wonder why, it's battered and bruised and not especially attractive. But it has a very unusual backstamp.

 In all my years of collecting I have never seen this mark before and I couldn't resist, even though I was paying a premium. 
This is from the late 1950s or 1960s when the backstamp was often in itself a little work of art. But it brings us to the question - when you're buying, how much is too much?  Blunt answer: it's worth what you are prepared to pay. Look on TradeMe, check second hand shops, then make up your own mind. If you want it by all means buy it, regardless of price. Just don't expect to make a profit in a hurry.  (Then again,  I am amazed at how much prices have gone up since I wrote my book in 2006.)

The flipside of paying too much is paying too little. I found this bowl in a charity shop in Tauranga for $5. It was made by Crown Lynn (then Ambrico) for the American army in the early 1940s and it's worth $50 or so, even though it has a glazing fault (which you can't see in this photo). The nice shop lady carefully pointed out the fault before she sold it to me. Should I, in return, have pointed out the bowl's significance and given her another $20 or more? I didn't.
FYI, this is what the base looks like.  The bowl is about 15 cm wide.
More soon

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Swan Lake

I have been pondering the lovely symmetry between our Crown Lynn swans and the era in which they were made... I live in a 1960s house, brick boomerang, the height of magnificence when I was growing up. And in that '60s environment, my swans sit very nicely. It was only when we hit the 1970s and wholeheartedly grasped the brown and orange era with its handmade pottery that swans began to look out of place. But now they're back - timeless elegance prevails. Below is the smallest size.

I found my large white swan in Greymouth for $30 and brought it back to Auckland in my cabin luggage - but that was eight years ago. The classic white swans are slipcast, and come in three sizes. The medium sized version is the most difficult to come by. Almost without exception the number '170' is imprinted on the base. Gone are the days when you could pick one up for a few dollars in a junk shop. The other day I heard that a Wellington enthusiast paid around $350 for a large swan in immaculate condition. And of course the rare black ones are going for crazy prices. As are the earlier trickle glazed versions from the 1950s. Here are some trickle glazed swans - thanks to Heather Thorburn for the photo.

I wonder sometimes why white swans are quite so beloved of Crown Lynn collectors. Yes, they're elegant, and the glaze is soft and luminous and lovely, but swans are far and away not the only beautiful thing that CL produced. Over the next few weeks I will introduce you to my favourites - some collectible, some not.

Take care

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kiwiana mugs - bliss!

As I was sorting through my collection the other day I came across two lovely Kiwiana mugs. I can't really advise on price, but both of these are quite hard to come by, especially in good condition.

The mug below is one of a series that featured kiwi athletes - there is also a kiwi rugby player which is understandably not easy to find. From memory, there is also a tennis player and a golfer. The series is signed 'Evans' - but sadly I have no idea who 'Evans' was.  Maybe someone can help me here.

My second treasure is this lovely pukeko mug. Probably made in the 80s, later than the kiwi series, but again this is just a semi-educated guess.  The pukeko also appears on desert bowls and the like. The image is applied on top of the glaze so it's easily damaged - you can see small scratches in the pukeko's gorgeous blue.

Again, neither of these items have a 'Crown Lynn' mark. Both have 'Made in New Zealand' on the base. This is a fairly clear signal that they were made by CL, though not infallible. Other manufacturers also used 'Made in New Zealand' in subtly different typefaces.
This is the base of the pukeko mug. The other is very similar so I won't bore you with it.
Take care

Yes... another ginger mug

Yesterday Cousin Lesley and Doug came to visit bearing gifts - Tupperware for me and this splendid mug for George.

This is yet another addition to my very extensive 'ginger mug' collection. (Yeah yeah technically it's George's mug but all's fair in love and Crown Lynn). Anyway. This is a very nice example. Most of the ginger (correctly honey glaze) ware was glazed in one colour only; this mug has been dipped in a contrasting colour. I guess you could even call it trickle glaze though not in the same league as the collectible 1940s trickle glaze vases. Honey glaze ware was made in the 1970s in the Titian factory which was owned by Crown Lynn. It used to be common as mud and cheap as chips but like all CL it now has its own legion of collectors and a value. Expect to pay somewhere between $5 and $10 for a mug like this.
CL also made jugs, vases and kitchen containers in the same honey glaze. This interesting - and not especially rare - vase is 30 cm tall. I have also seen this shape in white.

Neither of these bears a 'Crown Lynn' mark.  They both have the four-digit number introduced in 1964 and used until CL closed in 1989.  The cup also has the distinctive 'Made in New Zealand' which appears on so many CL products.  Below is the mug base - which also has an 'X' hand-incised into the base - this means someone wanted to keep track of it through the firing process for some reason.

The base of the vase (below) bears a number only (and an accidental blip of clay that wasn't smoothed off before glaze was applied!)

More soon