Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Those British backstamps

When you pick up a bowl that has 'Rainbow British' on the base you don't necessarily think it's made in New Zealand - but in fact this is a rare and collectible Crown Lynn backstamp.  And just look at what it's found on..

Not that the backstamp is bad either.. (Thanks to the gorgeous retro shop Aunty Mavis in St Kevin's Arcade in K Rd who allowed me to photograph this.)
During the 1950s Crown Lynn marked many of their products with 'British' backstamps. At that time NZ china was seen as second-rate - my grandmother never had Crown Lynn in her house, her china was imported from 'home'.  English manufacturers and the importers didn't like Tom Clark's approach but he stuck to his guns and right through to the early 60s you find pieces of 'British' china that are unmistakably Crown Lynn.  Tom Clark argued that all NZers were British because our passports said 'British subject and New Zealand citizen' - which indeed they did, until 1978. So that's why we have the gorgeous Fantasy British:

And Calypso British
Also Aero British on these lovely little beehive bowls:
British backstamps were phased out in the early1960s. Auckland museum records show that in October 1961 a new 'Starline' backstamp was designed -we can be confident that this replaced 'Starline British'. Starline ware looked like this - hand painted gold bands on clear glaze.
One of my most interesting British marks is Ferndale British.  This saucer has to have been made in 1962 at the earliest.  The grey background print was not possible until the Murray Curvex automatic machine was up and running, and that was early 1962. So Ferndale was probably the last ever Crown Lynn 'British' backstamp...
There are many more Crown Lynn  'British' backstamps, this is just a small selection. One can argue that what Tom Clark did was more than a bit dodgy, but in the early1950s his business was in danger of falling over afer a sudden change to the Australian excange rate killed off his export market.  So he did what he had to do to survive. And in any case, as a fellow collector pointed out to me, English china isn't backstamped British - Made in England is the norm.
More next week. I might be a bit more intermittent over the summer holidays, we intend to wander about when we can. But keep checking, I will endeavour to update weekly still.

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