Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sad accidents

This morning I broke my Sesame Street mug.
A moment of inattention and crash - handle smashed. I wrapped it in paper and put it in the bin. Not such a huge deal, I have others - though every piece of broken Crown Lynn is one piece less. On second thoughts I'll glue it together and give it to a charity shop.

When I broke this jug I kept it despite its glued handle because it has an unusual backstamp - Sylvia Blossom Time.

Likewise this little desert bowl, with Classic on the base. I only have one other 'Classic' piece, a cake plate in good condition. Incidentally you also see this same rose pattern with a 'Classic British' backstamp.

Our biggest disaster was when the Topaz plates hit the floor while George was doing a bit of back country driving in our motor home. After I got over the shock I made mosaic planters. We glued the pieces to flat sided terracotta pots then grouted them. They've lasted surprisingly well - about six years so far. I think you would need unglazed pots to make this work, the glue would not stick so well on glaze.  Here are my before and after pics.

We love using our Crown Lynn, but there is always the risk of an accident. True, what's gone is gone, but this stuff is history. I wonder how much of our heritage hit the floor in pieces in Christchurch. As well as the dreadful human tragedy there was a huge historic loss.

It makes me very happy to see people making jewellery, mosaics etc out of broken china. And of course if it's a precious item it can be worth getting breakages repaired. I have dealt with Wrightway Studios in Auckland with other family items, not china. They did a good job but the process is not cheap - they will give you a quote first. But expense aside, it can be better than tossing your damaged treasures into the bin.

More next week.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hand painted - production line style

One of Crown Lynn's more consistent sellers was Fleurette, hand painted dinnerware first released in 1962. It was a copy of the English design Belle Fiore, and it looked like this:
But it doesn't seem so gorgeous when you consider that production lines at Crown Lynn did nothing but hand-paint this ware day after day after day. Six colours, six painters, with a conveyor belt to send the pieces along the line. Here is the Queen watching them at work when she visited in 1963.  I wonder what she thought, seeing a well known English pattern being ripped off in the Antipodes. Ah well, copyright rules weren't so tough then.
 The Fleurette backstamp looks like this:
Fleurette was called Brereton Ware after DIC head buyer Jack Brereton. In this photo you can see 'New Zealand' which was impressed into the base of the cup during the manufacturing process. This is very typical of Crown Lynn.
My favourite hand painted pattern is Gina, made for United Stores. I am not sure about the date, probably mid 1960s. I bought a set of these porridge plates in Cromwell, I don't think they have ever been used.
Again, these have been hand painted. There are only three colours so a smaller team was needed to create them. Gina is not as easy to find as Fleurette. But a very cute backstamp.
I have hunted online to find out more about United Stores, but no luck. There were at least two other patterns marked as exclusive to United - Burma and Coronet. They're not half as much fun as Gina!
The last in this hand painted series is Mardi Gras, another production line job. I have a desert set in this - six nice little plates and a larger serving bowl. WHY do I have so much Crown Lynn? Well you may ask...

When we admire and enjoy these lovely hand painted pieces, let's spare a thought for the women who did the work. It was a skilled job but horrendously repetitive; it must have got quite tedious sometimes.

More next week

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gorgeous spots

This pattern is called Lido British. I think there would originally have been a spotty cup and saucer to go with this side plate.
This is the backstamp:
The 'British' backstamps were used in the 1950s when Crown Lynn was seen as inferior to imported English china and they were trying to give the impression that this was English.  Tom Clark argued that we were all British citizens - and indeed until 1978 our passports described us as 'British subject and New Zealand citizen'. But, as he told me, the English manufacturers gave him 'a wigging' until he desisted.  My educated guess is that the British backstamps are mainly pre-1960.
Anyway, here's another gorgeous spotty pattern.  This is Gigi. You also see the same pattern marked 'Gigi British'.  Each spot was put on separately, by hand, as a transfer.  Then the ware was put through a kiln.  Unfortunately the spots are often damaged as they are applied on top of the glaze.
Here's the Gigi British backstamp, utterly cute.
Gigi has spotty cups as well, but they're very hard to find. Happily the saucers team nicely with white tulip cups.  I have kindly been given this link to a photo of a Gigi trio on the NZ Pottery website.
Until the other day I thought the Gigi backstamp was used only on the spotty pattern.  Then a friend showed me this dessert plate, a stunning yellow-orange, rimmed with gold. Marked Gigi British.  Who knows what other variations are out there, much less the reasoning around it all. 
My last spotty pattern is the glorious Polka. So rare I have never seen it. The backstamp is on the New Zealand Pottery website and I have been searching unsuccessfully for an example. Then at the Auckland Museum I found an A3 sized advertisement template for this very pattern.  This is a scan of a photocopy, so not ideal, but what an amazing backstamp. And appropriately illustrated. The advertisement is from November 1959.

I am not sure what colour Polka is but one day I will find out.  Certainly the cups are spotty too... imagine finding one of these!  It looks a bit like Lido but maybe with different coloured spots??

So far as I can make out Polka was sold solely by Sargood and Son, an Australian company with limited NZ outlets.  

Incidentally the museum library has an excellent Crown Lynn archive. Anyone can have a look, just check the opening hours first, and go up and ask. From home you can check on what's available by searching for Crown Lynn on the website.

More next week.
Happy hunting till then!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Syrem... any theories on this?

Take a look at this site - Auckland Museum's Pinterest page on Briar Gardner's work.

In Gail Henry's idispensable 'New Zealand Pottery' book there's a Teddy Syrem Ware backstamp. It's quite rare, I finally found this plate after years of hunting:
  Here's what the backstamp looks like.
The question is - why did Crown Lynn use this weird word Syrem? What does it mean, if anything? The only other reference I can find is to a Syrem barometer on TradeMe.  Which isn't much help. There isn't even a place called Syrem.  Please - if anyone knows the answer to this mystery let me know via a comment! It really does bug me.
Anyway, a while later I was shown a Syrem Florida saucer:
 With this backstamp:
 Then I searched Syrem on TradeMe and bought this lunch plate:
With this backstamp:
Which has the same typeface as the Syrem on the Florida Syrem saucer and the Teddy plate. Then I found this in a box in the shed:
A very nice wee sugar bowl with an Ivy Leaf Syrem backstamp.
Again, the same typeface for the word Syrem.
You may be wondering, how do we know that these are Crown Lynn?  First, the original Teddy Syrem has 'By Crown Lynn' as part of its backstamp, which indicates that the other Syrem marks are likely to be Crown Lynn too. Also, the Ivy Leaf sugar bowl has  'New Zealand' impressed in the base, which pretty much guarantees it is Crown Lynn. 

Then along came Carnival Syrem.
With this backstamp, which also includes the words 'By Crown Lynn New Zealand' albeit a little blurry but nonetheless discernible.
Oh well, who cares you might say. I realise this post will only be of interest only to Crown Lynn swotty-geeks, but perhaps it gives you a glimpse into our little world... Gives me something to think about besides the state of the vege garden and my burgeoning waistline!

More next week