Wednesday, August 28, 2013

More Dorothy Thorpe - a glorious experiment

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing a display of some of  Billy Apple's extensive collection of Crown Lynn Dorothy Thorpe ware at the Auckland Art Gallery.  Interestingly, he and Mary have discovered a record of a ball handled Dorothy Thorpe cup and saucer made in France many years before she did the range for Crown Lynn.  I had always assumed that the ball handles were a fresh concept for CL but there you go...Anyway, below are some pics of the display... I just love this army of fat little jugs and sugar bowls...
This is a selection of Monterey, the coffee pots (or teapots) are so tall and wobbly it's a wonder that any have survived.
The gravy jug looks a little  odd; maybe they were not so popular; there don't seem to be many around.
One of the more interesting objects on display was this very rare item - I have never seen another. A compote dish I guess you would call it, this pattern is a variation on Santa Barbara. The ball base is much bigger than the handles on the cups.
The Dorothy Thorpe ball handled range was developed for Crown Lynn in the 1960s - first released in the US in 1965, and in NZ the following year. Interestingly, they didn't sell especially well. They were a bit avant garde for the time, and also not especially practical. They were given Californian names - this is Santa Barbara. The basic pattern was applied as a transfer then hand-coloured.
This Santa Barbara serving bowl is a different shape from the smoother lines of the Monterrey bowl below it.
In the 1960s when this range was introduced to NZ, Crown Lynn made much of the salad bowl - publicity at the time explained that the Americans served a salad with almost every meal; a novel concept in this country.  Another Dorothy Thorpe pattern was Brocade - in a rather bold purple.  This cup has a loop or 'eyebrow' handle - which replaced the ball handles because they were easier to use - and easier to make.
Dorothy Thorpe also designed Laguna, a serene mix of pale grey-green and mauve - this is from my collection.
The two patterns Pine and Palm Springs originated with the Crown Lynn design team. They are branded as Dorothy Thorpe but in addition both are marked as being designed by Mark Cleverley. This however was an error - Pine was by David Jenkin. This is a Palm Springs coffee pot.
And this is Pine in the conventional cup shape. Both Pine and Palm Springs sold well in New Zealand as standard family dinner sets.
Lastly, I have to put in a plug for Billy - he has a few gaps in his collection that he would love to fill. If anyone has any of the following that they would like to sell or swap, please leave a comment on this blog. He would be forever grateful.
Milk jug, ball handle
Salad bowl, 10"
Dinner plate
Platter, 13”
Desert bowl, 6 1/4”
Milk jug, loop handle
Cup, ball handle
Milk jug, loop handle
Cup, ball handle

All the best till next time

Just recently I have been sent a picture of a sugar bowl with a lid... a very rare thing to find. Unfortunately it looks as though the bowl is Santa Barbara and the lid is Monterey, but it's still great to see how they fit together. Thanks so much to the reader who sent me this!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Wonderful whiteware

I have noticed increasing interest in Crown Lynn whiteware vases - and a resultant increase in the prices people are prepared to pay!

This is my latest find. I picked it up for $1 in a charity shop and was astonished to see one go on TradeMe for  $385. Personally I think it's interesting but not outstanding but obviously these vases don't come on the market very often. There are other animals of this type - a wee deer, calf and lamb,  shapes 210 - 213. This little horse is 11 cm tall. The legs are hollow. It is unmarked.
A new treasure is this hand potted Ernest Shufflebotham vase, which I bought to reward myself after I finished my second book.
On the base it has the 'Hand Potted' mark, plus a hand inscribed shape number 5. Ernest Shufflebotham left Wedgwood in England in 1948 and worked at Crown Lynn until about 1956, but his vases were advertised for several years after that, most likely because there was a stockpile in the warehouses. Earlier publications, including Crown Lynn newsletters and magazines, incorrectly referred to 'Shufflebottom' but his English descendants pointed out the error a few years ago.
Most Crown Lynn whiteware is slipcast rather than hand potted.  This 'tree' vase belongs to my sister and I guess I will have to give it back sometime... but meanwhile it looks great on my shelves. It's about 20 cm tall, shape number 585.
 This is what the base looks like.
My favourite whiteware vases are the geometrical ones - this photo is by Studio Lagonda, from my first book. I borrowed these vases to photograph about seven years ago; I should have bought some while they were still available at reasonable prices!
This gorgeous specimen I do own - it came from my brother-in-law who worked in the Crown Lynn engineering department for a few years. It's quite large at 16 cm tall and 36 wide. Its simple elegance has grown on me. It is number 360.
You sometimes see all these whiteware vases in other colours, mainly pastels. Pale green is probably the most common.

Crown Lynn whiteware came with a variety of marks. Some were numbered only, others bore marks such as Flair Art Pottery. This wee vase, number 362, is 12 cm tall.
This one is much larger at 14 cm tall and 27 wide. I love its crisp lines. I also have a smaller version in this pattern, cute but not as stylish.  
It is number 605 and carries the Kelston Potteries mark.
This ikebana vase has a Flower Beauty sticker. You also sometimes see this shape in black or brown.
The later vases, post-1964, have four digit shape numbers. This Grecian style specimen is 22 cm tall; there is also a taller version. The number on the base is 2082. The vase also carries the imprinted Made in New Zealand which is so familiar to Crown Lynn collectors. When I first found this vase it was spray painted with gold around the handles and base. George restored it to its former glory by removing the gold with petrol. This vase was almost certainly made in the Titian factory after it was taken over by Crown Lynn. The glaze is shinier and 'harder' looking than the finish on the other vases I have shown.

There was great excitement when Crown Lynn developed its first white glaze. It was described in an internal staff newsletter in 1948 as having 'a nice texture reminiscent of birds eggs of one's youthful pilfering.'
I can't write about whiteware without including the swans, which seem to be attracting a lot of interest in recent months. But what is there not to love about this serene beauty?
She is impressed with the number 170 but there is no Crown Lynn mark. Her opposite number, the so-called male swan, has both the number 170 and a Crown Lynn backstamp. These swans are also sometimes found in trickle glaze - they will have been made before the white glaze was developed.
This one also has a mysterious 'F' incised into it... presumably someone wanted to keep track of it when it came out of the kiln. Quite often you find odd marks like this on the base of Crown Lynn products.
Now... my question for the day. Why is it that both the large male and female swans, which are quite different in shape, have the same shape number? Every other Crown Lynn artware shape has its own individual number - the small and middle-sized swans have separate numbers.  I don't have a clue why these two large swans have the same number, and wonder if anyone else can help.

More soon