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
ValM


31 comments:

  1. Hi,
    Just wondering what your thoughts are on the modern swans? Are they made from the exact same moulds as the vintage ones?

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    1. Yesterday I had the good fortune to speak to someone who knows the story of these modern swans. Studio Ceramics - who make the replicas - don't have the moulds that were used at Crown Lynn. Someone (not Studio Ceramics) made a mould from one of the Crown Lynn swans, and that is what the modern swans are derived from. So - apart from being smaller, they are close to the originals. But still not Crown Lynn...

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    2. Thanks - that explains why they don't seem to be quite as detailed as the originals.

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  2. Hi Valerie. I remember as a teenager packing Crown Lyn dinner ware for delivery to shops in New South Wales. The company my father worked for, Service Transport, provided storage faciltiies for the Crown Lynn agent in Sydney. His name was Charlie Leach. I have Crown Lynn dinner ware at home and use it almost daily. I try to avoid washing them in the dishwasher.
    Best wishes from Ross Berghofer.

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    1. Ross thanks very much for your Crown Lynn memories.. I keep being reminded that so many people were involved in this one enterprise, in so many different ways. Take care.

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  3. Hi, Valerie. I am relatively new to Crown Lynn but I love them and has started to collect for the past couple of years. Can I please ask; someone told me a black swan in not actually made by Crown Lynn and there is a possibility that it was made in Australia. I have black one which I bought from auction centre . It is used but good condition. However, it does not have number or stamp so I don't think it was made by studio ceramics. Do you have any ideas of black swans?

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  4. I do know that Crown Lynn made black swans, so far as I am aware in all three sizes. However as you suspect you would expect yours to have a number and/or Crown Lynn mark if it was CL. It is possible that it was made by Studio Ceramics, who did do black and white copies of CL swans... I will see what I can find out for you. Thanks for your question. ValM

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  5. Any Crown Lynn with a black glaze was probably done in the Titian factory after CL took over Titian. There is a story that there was only ever one batch of black swans made. CL staff were known to purloin the odd 'souvenir' from the production line when something interesting came through. When the first batch of black swans were made, not a single one made it to the end of the production line, so they were rare right from the first day, or at least that's how the story goes...
    Andrew C

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    1. Thanks for this Andrew... I had heard that story too. And here's a wee story from Eileen Machin (Crown Lynn decorator) about their black swans.
      "We had a white swan and we had a black swan. We had two black ones and we gave this couple one, she likes it so take it, like...and she had one sitting outside when we visited, with a plant in it. And I said Sylvia do you know how much that is worth. I think she’s got it inside now."

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  6. I have just been reading my interview notes - this is what Tom Clark said about the black swans.
    I think at one stage I got sick and tired of the white matt, somebody said to me why don’t you do a black one. So that’s what we did, exactly the same glaze, only with a black stain in it. And it was beautiful. It didn’t have quite the same aura about it, the same sheen on it, the black glaze didn’t have the same magic quality that the white had, when it was fully fired up that the white always had. It was a little coarser. The matt was - the crystals were a little coarser.

    It didn’t have that same soft sheen to it?

    No

    And they never sold as well as the white ones?

    No no no they were an aberration really. The white just kept on going.

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  7. Hi. We have a dinner set marked at the base with a Crown Lynn mark that is not what is usual (the crown etc) It is in the form of a scroll badge with the words Crown Lynn in the centre. The dinner set is much finer than most CL crockery and has what looks like a kowhai design. Do you have any idea of the heritage of this set?

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  8. The mark with Crown Lynn inside the scroll is one of the older ones - it sounds as though your dinner set is 1950s. Your description of a kowhai design is also interesting... I would love to see a pic. If you post another comment including an email address, I will not publish it, but will be able to get in touch with you and hopefully you can email me a photo. All the best. ValM

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  9. Great post! Been reading a lot about whiteware cermics recently. Thanks for the info!

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    1. Thanks, its a fascinating topic. Have you tried the NZ Pottery website? It has an excellent gallery of the shapes.

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  10. Hi there, my mother has a old and I think middle size swan, the base is 17 cm long, the surface is very white and dry almost underfired looking and patchy, not smooth glazed like the others I have seen. She thinks because it was kept in the bathroom that it went ike this..can it be restored?
    Any info appreciated..

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  11. Having not seen your swan I am not sure whether it is the medium one. But the 17 cm measurement is different from any of mine - I don't own a medium. I suggest you google images of 'Crown Lynn medium swan" and see if yours matches, and also do a search on the New Zealand Pottery site. If it is indeed a medium swan it might be worth asking a professional restorer, as they are quite valuable if they are in good condition. It is unlikely that the glaze would be damaged by the moist air in a bathroom.... do you think it might have been painted over at some stage? At home, you could try getting paint stripper and just test a small area on the base and see if the white dry material comes off. My husband has also removed paint with petrol - but whatever you do apart from taking it to a professional, it's a bit of a gamble I am afraid.

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  12. Hi there. I am looking for some advise really. I have a couple of beautiful identical mantel vases with the number 553 on the bottom together with the Crown Lynn name. One of them has 19/6 on the bottom of it. I guess my Mum had bought them many years ago. My question is I notice on this site most of the items also have the name printed on the bottom of each item also but many of the ones I see on Trade Me do not. Are they genuine. I would dearly love to buy a large swan but do not feel like paying $300 if it is not genuine. Many thanks.

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    1. This is a tricky subject. My advice is to study the New Zealand Pottery website galleries, so you are clear about what Crown Lynn swans look like. http://www.newzealandpottery.net/gallery/index.htm
      If you are still not confident, you could bite the bullet and pay a bit more to get one through a reputable dealer. As you know, not all Crown Lynn products are marked "Crown Lynn. There are a number of other swans around, many were made by Studio Ceramics, and others have come from overseas. The older large Crown Lynn swans are numbered 170, but there are also newer ones with the four-digit numbering system introduced in 1964. These newer swans are shape number 2066. Thank you for your question and I wish you all the best with your search.

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  13. Hi there - I am slowly getting absorbed into the wonderful world of Crownn Lynn and have recently acquired my first large swan, it has a number but also an M - not sure what this means? If anything :)

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    1. Hello... I am so glad you are enjoying the wonderful world of Crown Lynn. Re the 'M' on the base of your swan: Is the 'M' just scratched in by hand? If so, it was probably marked by a Crown Lynn staff member so that they could keep track of it when it came out of the kiln.

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  14. I have a white swan with the number 170.

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  15. Hi there, I have a small white swan which is not glazed on the outside and has no markings on the base. However it looks identical to my glazed c/l small swan. I know it's vintage as it came from an elderly person. Did some swans not get marked if they didn't get glazed?

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  16. Hi it is likely that this swan is from Crown Lynn. There is the odd piece of bisque ware around - fired but not glazed. You would expect it to have a number on the base, though. On balance, if it is identical in shape and size to the glazed version you have, it probably is CL. But it is not possible for me to give an explanation as to why it is not glazed or marked...

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  17. Is it unusual to have a male swan with a number but no stamp?

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    1. No that is not unusual. Crown Lynn didnt always stamp their products. Having the number is great because it clearly identifies it as CL.

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  18. Hi I have I think a medium female swan. In green and purple trickle glaze. It has the number 39 hand carved into the bottom of it. I know it is Crown Lynn as my mother worked there in the 1940's and 50's in the hand painting department.

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    1. Hi Leslie. This is very interesting. You might have a swan that is not yet registered in the New Zealand Pottery website swan gallery. See link below. If you are able can you please send a photo of the swan and the base to my email (note it is valmnk not valmonk).
      valmnk@gmail.com
      http://www.newzealandpottery.net/gallery/More-Crown-Lynn-Galleries/Crown-Lynn-Swan-Gallery/Crown-Lynn-Swan-Gallery-cat_c15.htm

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  19. No male swan. Both female - one is in the water and one is on the land hence the same numbers as they are the same swan in differing poses. I used to cut Sir Tom Clark's hair and we'd chat about when he used to work in the studio after it had shifted to New Lynn. I used to collect then and had several swans and he told me that - both ladies. So, I'm thinking he would know as it's his Dad that started the company.

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    1. Thank you Noelene. Excellent info. I am travelling at present but I will try to get your comment onto the NZ Pottery website as well.

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  20. i have a vase no 480, now it has changed to 213 why does this happen. keen to know. thanks denise

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  21. Hi Denise. Sorry about the delay in replying. I am hoping you mean that the vase number has changed to 2013, (not 213). When Crown Lynn took over Titian Potteries in about 1968, CL began making vases and other castware at the Titian factory. At the same time they (CL) changed their shape numbering system from three digits to four digits. Thus if your vase is numbered 480, it is made in the Crown Lynn factory prior to 1968. If it has the four-digit number 2013, it was made at the Titian factory post-1968, after it was bought out by Crown Lynn. Hope that makes sense.

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