Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wanted to buy: bold and beautiful

I am in love with Crown Lynn Florence.This design is from the 1980s, not long before Crown Lynn closed. 

 I think this set came with the black cup but I can't be sure. I bought the saucer separately.

Sadly, after all my years of collecting I have acquired only the following meagre selection:  2 dinner plates, 2 desert plates and one saucer. I think that by the time this design was released Crown Lynn was very much out of fashion, so it didn't sell well. If anyone knows where there is more Florence for sale do let me know via comments on this blog and I will buy it!!!! 

Likewise desert plates for Seascape below.

We found a whole four-setting Seascape dinner set in a junk shop in Waimate, but alas no desert plates.  I even have a casserole in this pattern. Huge and clunky but has its own charm.  This is a classic Crown Lynn shape - if you find a casserole like this it is highly likely to be Crown Lynn, whether it is marked as such or not.

Judging by its shape, Seascape ware was probably made slightly earlier than Florence.

Another 80s design that I am very fond of is Nouveau.  It was made in both white on black and black on white. 

This simple speckled pattern has the same flattish plates as Florence, and the same style of backstamp
I have a whole dinner set of this design, but at the moment Magnolia Moon is in the ascendancy and my Nouveau is in a box in the shed. There is a limit to the amount of space in our kitchen cupboards!

Lastly - I have been asked by my friend Joanna to put in a plea for this design she's looking for. If you know where some of this can be found pop onto her lovely blog and let her know via messages   Or leave a message for me and I will pass it on.

More next weekend.
Take care till then

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pretty in pastel - Colour Glaze

I have been (finally!) sorting through my Colour Glaze cups and saucers.
(Acknowledging Sean Shadbolt who did the cover photo for my book... I copied his idea for the  above pic.)
Anyway, I was reasonably casual about how I treated my Colour Glaze ware until I saw this plum coloured trio go for $66 on TradeMe.

It did have one of the more unusual marks on the base (Capri British) but even so...  I have resolved to take better care of my stash in future.  As well as being quite collectible, they are seriously pretty. 
You can focus on a single colour:
Or indulge in some gorgeous  mix 'n match:
One of the interesting things about the single colour ware (loosely called colourglaze) is the variety of different backstamps. Here are some from my collection:

Strictly speaking, only those marked with the words 'Colour Glaze' should be called Colour Glaze, but Crown Lynn used lots of different marks for basically the same product so I'm not too fussy about terminology.  Of the marks above, Fiesta is very rare (I have only one example - a rather battered bread and butter plate). Jubilee British (on the right below)  and Capri British (on the left) are also older and therefore more interesting to me. 
One of the most unusual backstamps is on this cup and saucer:
The cup is only 6 cm high, much smaller than the usual Colour Glaze ware. It was distributed by IGA (Independent Grocers Association) stores, probably in the 1960s. This is the mark on the saucer. I have only ever found two.
Colourglaze cups come in three sizes. The medium is by far the most common.
Most cups are marked on the base with the words 'New Zealand', occasionally with 'Made in New Zealand' and often they have no mark at all. Then you have to judge whether they are Crown Lynn by comparing shapes and glazes.
As well as the lovely pastel colours there is rather a lot of sturdy brown, olive green and dark blue ware on the market.  As well as heaps and heaps of white, which also has a following. And there is the occasional extremely rare black cup or saucer which triggers a bidding frenzy on TradeMe. I think I'll stick to my pastels!
All the best, more next weekend.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Recognise this?

Crown Lynn Echo was released in 1969 and it must have sold like wildfire, because it's still quite common.
Many of our baby boomer households had it in our kitchens in the '70s but in the end we tired of all that sturdy brown and threw it out.  Our cat ate off a last remnant for years.  But 30+ years on I saw it in a new light and bought a complete dinner set, shiny and almost unused. The box weighs a ton and George doesn't like it, so it's stored in the shed. I hope my children appreciate it when they inherit.

Echo was created by Mark Cleverley - publicity said he was influenced by the hippie movement and designed with 'reckless abandon' to appeal to the younger set. Getting the decoration right was tricky. The black flower pattern was machine printed onto a white bisque plate, then oversprayed with a thin ochre coloured glaze which allowed the flowers to shine through. The edges were hand-rolled in black to cover any remaining white patches.  Good effort Crown Lynn.

I have equal respect for this recent acquisition:

This is Four Seasons.  The handle and the base of the cup are a different colour from the rest, and you can see the care that has gone into getting the bands of colour on the plates so sharply edged. This range is probably from the 1970s - the shape wasn't introduced until 1989. I think that by then the banding was machined on, but a lot of quality control was required to get the product perfect. I paid $25 for this trio, worth every cent. Especially when you see the backstamp:

How cute is that???

More next weekend


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Trickle glaze - what is it?

Among Crown Lynn enthusiasts there's a lot of interest in trickle glazed items - mainly vases and animal figurines.  The trickle glazing technique was first used at Ambrico (before it became Crown Lynn) in the late 1930s and refined through the 1940s.  A single colour of glaze was applied to an item - eg this vase below. Then another colour was applied - as you can see, it was sort of slopped on. Sometimes another colour was added. The effects are often quite lovely.

This (above) is a vase from my collection. It is about 16 cm tall.
This is another from my collection. It too is trickle glazed, and it's about 16 cm tall.  It is a very common Crown Lynn/Ambrico shape. There is usually a mark on the base of these vases, but not always. The base of my brown vase looks like this:
The small circular mark says 'Made in N.Z' which was an early stamp used by Ambrico.  I will go into more detail about marks in a couple of weeks. (I have a new camera and I have to get it organised before I can take the necessary photos!)
Trickle glazing was used a great deal from the early 1940s until around 1948, which is 60+ years ago.  At that time, they didn't have the skills or the materials to use other 'English style' types of decoration - eg applying coloured transfers, painting on gold lines etc.  So they made use of the skills and materials they had, to create some truly beautiful and idiosyncratic ornaments.
These early trickle glazed items are sought after, especially the more elegant shapes with lively colours. Below is a photo (rather poor quality I am afraid) which gives an indication of the range of shapes and colours around.
There are some brilliant websites which add enormously to our knowledge of Crown Lynn and other NZ pottery. One can only be grateful to the the people who set up and maintain these sites, and the enthusiasts who so generously share their knowledge on them. Try these:
Trickle glaze techniques were used after the 1940s - eg this 1970s mug which I featured earlier has a trickle glaze top. However these later examples are not as collectible as the earlier vases and figurines.   

More soon... I try to update once a week.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ball handles... the most amazing stuff!

In the 1960s Crown Lynn made cups like this - the handles were shaped like little golf balls.

They were designed by Dorothy Thorpe 'of California' a glassware designer whose clients included movie stars and the seriously rich. Tom Clark formed an alliance with her because he wanted to make a real design statement, partially to help Crown Lynn break into the American export market.  As well as the cups and saucers the Dorothy Thorpe Crown Lynn range included milk jugs: 
And a sugar bowl.

Of course they were totally impractical to use. Imagine actually drinking tea out of this cup.  The ball handles were not easy to hang onto and they dropped off occasionally. 

This is the Laguna design. I bought the set as a reward when I finished my first book. It cost about $300 at the time and would be worth more now. I love it, soft soft pale mossy green inside and mauve outside. There were other designs - Pine and Palm Springs (both by Crown Lynn designers) Brocade and the garish Monterey, handpainted in pink and yellow.

Here is a photo of some of Billy Apple's amazing collection at the exhibition in Auckland last year.  Note the coffee pot centre stage. Unfortunately it was crazily topheavy and few survive today. I don't own one, wish I did. (Though imagine the stress of looking after it!)

 The Crown Lynn staff hated making this stuff, though in retrospect they talked about it with pride.  At first the ball handles drove them nuts because they exploded in the kiln, but then they hit on the idea of putting a tiny hole in the base of each ball to release the pressure.  Dorothy Thorpe had exacting standards. Previously backstamps had been literally stamped on; she insisted that each one be applied as a separate transfer. Which was much tidier but sometimes the transfers folded up and came out like this:
Most of the ball handled ware was exported, but defective pieces such as this were sold in the seconds shops. When the range was released in NZ the ball handles were ditched and a more conservative shaped handle adopted, though the wide flat saucers and wide cup shapes were retained. 
Sadly the Dorothy Thorpe range was not a huge export success. She didn't have the US marketing networks that Crown Lynn expected, and the ball handles were probably just a bit too eccentric to sell well. The two New Zealand designs, Pine and Palm Springs, were adapted further and sold in New Zealand as standard shaped dinner sets for many years. Pine (below) is sought after, Palm Springs less so because it is more common.
Even in the good old days you hardly ever saw a ball handled item in a second hand shop. This is my sad story:  When I was collecting things to photograph for my book George and I went up north for a junk shop weekend. Back in Auckland, I showed him a photo of  a ball handled cup.  And this is what he said:  'Hey I didn't realise that was Crown Lynn.  There was one in that junk shop in Kerikeri.  Didn't you see it?'   
No I didn't see it. Oh well no doubt it made someone else very happy.
Take care