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



  1. Having just discovered this site, l have been trawling back through ALL your blogs. Imagine my surprise when l came upon your comments and photos in regard to the tacky transfers used. There on the jug is the identical kitchen transfer on a mug l am sitting drinking tea out of as l read your blogs! This mug l unwrapped yesterday. It was a gift from a friend. It had a Buy N.Z. made triangular sticker on it that has obviously been there for years as it left aged yellow dried up cellotape marks as has a badly removed ?price from the base. It is a soup bowl size (my teacup of choice!) but NO marks. Could it be C/L from the 70's or 80's??????

  2. I am intrigued, if you mug has a Buy NZ sticker, then it is obviously made in NZ. but I can't guarantee it is Crown Lynn - I would have to see a pic of the mug to be sure. You do see the same transfers used on different manufacturers' wares because the transfers were usually sold on the open market (rather than being specific to one manufacturer.) If you are interested, write me another message with your email address (which I won't publish) and when I reply you can flick me a photo. Have a lovely Xmas...