Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Coffee cans... mid-century at its best

The other day I had the pleasure of seeing a lovely collection of coffee cans, which are straight sided cups introduced in the early 1960s. It's great when a collector focuses on one range and you get a whole lot of allied objects - thanks Jeremy Ashford for this treat. Just look at this gorgeous thing!
This set has a Kelston Potteries backstamp, which is relatively unusual. Jeremy also has a brown version of the same pattern.
 Many coffee cans are marked with Cook & Serve, a brand which was introduced in 1963 when a heat resistant clay body was first developed.  The first Cook & Serve coffee cans were Blue Tango, Allegro, Image, and Mogambo - used in a Gregg's Instant Coffee advertisement. At first they were hand painted; later transfers were used.
I remember the Gregg's coffee advertisement, it seemed so very sophisticated and romantic when I was a young(ish!) girl.
Below is Blue Tango, an entry by Emilie Beuth in the Crown Lynn design competition. The pattern was later used on all the Government-owned Tourist Hotel Corporation china. It first appeared in the Chateau Tongariro in mid-1966. Blue was used in the North Island, burgundy in the South Island.
Unusual coffee can patterns include Allegro - also hand painted,
Mexico - hand painted
And this pattern -I've forgotten its name - shown here with a green cup. There was also a cup in the same pattern as the saucer but I think this combination looks better.
NOTE - when I first did this post, I had the pattern above described as Napoli, but I got that wrong, it's called Form.

This is Napoli, a very close imitation of a Swedish Norstrand pattern - of which more next time.
The Napoli backstamp is interesting - who were W.B and Coy?
This is an Arthur and Martha cup, its backstamp is a different style from the others. (and it's a bit dusty - I should have been more careful!)

And this odd little number is Purple Myrtle, not easy to find, with a similar backstamp to Arthur and Martha. There is also a mysterious Captain Sharples mug in the same series - I have no idea who Captain Sharples was! 
Alongside the Cook & Serve coffee cans, Crown Lynn made stylish coffee pots, also branded Cook & Serve. This example is Blue Tango.
And lastly, here is a very oddly decorated coffee pot - goodness knows whose experiment it was... it would look so very much better in plain white.
I guess experiments weren't always successful - and anyway it's all a matter of personal taste, isn't it? 
NOTE - since I wrote this, Ev from NZ Pottery has pointed out that this pattern does have a name - Sunburst. So I herewith wash my mouth out with soap.... don't be so disparaging Valerie!
Next time I will talk about the crossover between Crown Lynn patterns and those from overseas manufacturers... there is a Cook & Serve pattern which is a direct replica of the Swedish Nortstrand product. And another in the popular Fleurette, a copy of Belle Fiore.
Take care till then... and remember it's only a boat race!


  1. Hi there, I'm involved in the local Scout Group in Wanaka and we have discovered a large box of Crown Lynn crockery in storage, I think it's Blue Tango and we have x52 dinner plates, x86 wee plates, x104 bowls, x106 saucers. Do you think this is worth anything? I can send images. We are reluctant to sell but need to fix our roof and guttering and this could be the answer (-: Thanks Emily 021 984336

  2. Hi Emily. I am sorry - I was travelling when this question came through and I missed it. No doubt you have made other arrangements by now. Blue Tango is quite collectable but that is a HUGE amount. Is it used? If it is in the orignal box it is worth more. It might appeal to a cafe as it is tough vitrified ware. I guess you could put it on TradeMe but I would talk to a reputable auction house first. Dunbar Sloane, Cordy's, Webbs,Art+Object - any of those might be able to advise. Dunbar has branches in Ak and Wellington, the rest are Auckland only. All the best and again my apologies for late reply.