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!


  1. Billy doesn't seem to have the sugar that has a lid with a ball handle on it .... maybe because it looks rather ridiculous hahaaa Great photos Val !!

  2. Ev do you have a pic of this sugar??? if so it would be great if we can add it to this page.

  3. Hi wot does a pine dinner plate go for just out of curiosity can you reply too cheers happy new year!

  4. Hi Valerie
    I purchased a Santa Barbara set around 6 years ago now consisting of 4 cups, a sugar bowl and a milk jug.
    Any idea where I can source matching pieces?
    Ideally I would love to start with 4 saucers.

    1. Hi Shirallee. The saucers are probably easier to come by than the cups. I suggest you browse TradeMe (the NZ online auction site.) You could also leave a message on the New Zealand Pottery website; there is a section for people looking for items. You will need to register before you can leave a message.

  5. I have a 6 piece Crown Lynn Pine (Mauve) dinner service with cups and saucers in perfect condition to sell.. I am in Adelaide South Australia. Could anyone please advise the best way to go about selling this dinner service. Thank you, Bobbie

  6. Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you.. I have been having a computer holiday! You could list it on TradeMe, the New Zealand auction site, or on EBay which is based in the US but seen worldwide. Is your set ball handled or the more traditional shape? It's the ball handled version which is the more valuable, though Pine in the traditional shape is also quite collectable. I am not sure what antique dealers in Australia would make of your set, though they would be aware of Crown Lynn as quite a lot was exported to Australia and elsewhere. You could search TradeMe and EBay to get an idea of the prices you might expect for your dinner service.