Thursday, March 21, 2013

1970s brown - Country Fair

It's not to everyone's taste, but the brown Country Fair range deserves more recognition than it gets.  Just look at this chunky salt pig - how cool and classic 70s is THAT?
It's huge too, 14.5 cm tall. The Country Fair range was released with fanfare in 1978, designed at Crown Lynn and made at the Crown Lynn owned Titian factory.  (For those who don't remember the 1970s, a salt pig was believed to keep salt dry. There was one on almost every kitchen bench.)  I also have another salt pig in a similar style, but this one is designed to hang on the wall.
This is what it looks like from the back, you can see the hole that was used to hook it onto a nail.

Though the hanging salt pig is the same colours as some Country Fair ware, it has a different mark on the back - Titianware NZ.  The Country Fair range has the standard 'Made in New Zealand' and a four-digit shape number on the base. This is the base of the first salt pig above. Often the numbers and lettering are submerged in the thick brown glaze.
Almost without exception, Country Fair came with an identifying sticker:
I have amassed a small collection of Country Fair. Here is a mug I am particularly fond of. It's bigger than most at 8 cm high, and a nice shape to drink out of.
Country Fair ware all has distinctive raised dots moulded into the shape. There are two main colourways - green as in the first salt pig, and this dark brown. The darker glaze has an attractive steely finish which contrasts nicely with the glossy glaze trickled over the top.  This is a detail from the salt pig. You can see the glaze is not perfect - air bubbles have popped up where the two glazes meet. This style of decoration is a revival of the trickle glaze (or more correctly flowing glaze) technique used to such effect on the collectable 1940s vases.
There are myriad of Country Fair items including towering jugs (about 14 cm tall)...
lidded cheese platters (9 cm high)...
soup ramekins (6.5 cm high)...
and even this vase, in a shape which is more commonly seen in white. It is 17.5 cm end to end.
There is also a series of corked kitchen storage jars in various sizes.
After the launch of the brown and green Country Fair range, Crown Lynn made a few examples in apricot and white. The results were a bit mixed. I really like this little milk jug with its glossy white glaze.
But WHY did they plonk floral transfers on so much of their ware when a clean finish looks so much nicer, the shapes carry themselves. This teapot (14 cm high) is shut firmly in a box because the odd little Italian-style transfer offends me!
(But then, who am I to judge when the designers and marketing people were only following the fashions of the time?)
I found some apricot Country Fair a few years ago, I have to admit it's quite pretty, despite the floral transfers.  The jug and sugar bowl are 7.5 cm high.
But sadly it got wet and mouldy in a box in our leaky shed. Such a pity... the glaze was crazed and moisture got in, then black mould grew. No amount of soaking, bleaching and exposure to the sun fixed the problem and this is what it looks like now. A very real example of what can happen if you don't look after your treasures!
More next week.
Take care till then


Monday, March 11, 2013

Another new backstamp!

Just after my book went to print I bought this interesting duo on TradeMe - with a Tudor British backstamp I had never seen before. In the intro of my book I said there were no doubt more backstamps than I had listed - just as well!
This is a1950s - early 1960s cup and saucer, with this backstamp, beautifully applied in gold.
On the other side of the cup and saucer there is this interesting image - victims of our huntsman. Poor little things. I think this is what they mean in those old historical novels when they talk about our hero coming back from his shoot with a brace of partridge.
The only other Tudor backstamp I have come across is on this 1950s desert plate which I bought at great expense from a dealer because it is not a common mark. The rose is a hand-applied transfer, the pink is sprayed-on glaze, and the gold rim is also applied by hand.
My other recent TradeMe extravagance was this Wildlife British plate. This too is a very unusual backstamp - I had to go to the museum to photograph one for my book. I have only ever seen this mark on cake plates decorated with this transfer of Canada geese - please can you let me know if you have seen it on anything else. 
 Once again I love this backstamp, just look at the two flying ducks above the word Wildlife.
On TradeMe this plate came with a mug, also decorated with the Canada Geese. It is unmarked, which is unusual for Crown Lynn mugs; they usually had 'Made in New Zealand' moulded into the base. It is a Crown Lynn shape, and it may be Crown Lynn, but then again it may have been  manufactured overseas, and decorated with the same transfer as the plate. The transfers were probably not exclusive to Crown Lynn.
Last, I have to share this little demitasse I found for $5 in our charity shop up the road. It's backstamp is Jubilee British.  These little cups and saucers are pretty much totally useless, so many of them have survived in the back of Nana's cupboard or the china cabinet.  This one is a particularly lovely shade of eggshell blue so into my china cabinet it goes!

I think that next week I will write about plastic kitchen storage jars... no they're not Crown Lynn, but they are New Zealand made. Watch this space! Meanwhile it's time to get back to bottling peaches; our trees have had a bumper crop this summer. YUM.
Take care