Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Antiques Roadshow - Ascot

Yesterday, my partner and I took ourselves off to an Antiques Roadshow valuation day and I brought along a timeline selection from my collection - a range of wares from Livesley Powell & Co (L.P& co), Powell & Bishop (P&B), Powell Bishop & Stonier (P.B.&S.) and Bishop & Stonier (B&S). Some of the pieces I have already written about on this blog and I was delighted by the reaction to them.

If you've never been to a Roadshow, let me tell you a bit about the day. You first have to queue to get to the "reception" where you are seen by a group of experts who then give a coloured ticket to say which experts table you are to visit, eg Ceramics, Miscellaneous etc. When I arrived and was asked to show what i had brought so that i could be given a ticket, he asked me a few questions about the piece: where did i get it? how much did i pay for it? etc. I think also they're trying to suss you out as a "character" to best match you to an expert! rather unusually, the reception expert took my piece off to the category tables and came back saying that i should definitely speak to Fergus Gambon, an expert from Bonhams who was "really into this sort of thing". Apparently, Fergus had shown an interest in the tazza I took along.

The tazza in question was the armorial design that I have previously written about. What my earlier pictures didn't show you was that underneath is a palette of tester colours around the stand and that the enamels design on top is not a finished work. It was possibly a commission from the factory for a specific event, or more likely Fergus thought, a blank bought and painted at home. But he was puzzled as to why they put so much effort into the top design only to then do a colour palette underneath which didn't relate to those above and therefore effectively "ruin" the finished work. It is certainly not a finished piece but a trial for something else. He said the artist was very accomplished and was copying similar armorial enamel designs by Limoges.

Another piece i took along for valuation was my Louis Rhead designed jug which Fergus thought was wonderful and which he had never seen before. I happily filled him in on the background to the design - being originally for The Sun magazine. He valued the jug at £300.

I was delighted that Fergus was SO enthusiastic about my collection and that he'd said the Roadshow needed collectors like me who specialise in one thing. He also said that he thought my collection was probably unique (no other Bisto collectors that he knew of) and that I should leave it to the Potteries museum in Stoke-on-Trent when I die! Well, I wasn't planning on doing that just yet, but it's something to consider for the future I guess. Fergus also said that I should consider writing a book about the companies. My partner is perhaps more keen than me - him being quite into libraries and research and me being more into the general business of accumalating stuff. I'm seriously thinking about it, however, as a past trip to the Potteries museum had a similar comment from Julia Knight, one of the ceramics curators. Let me know what you think? Would anyone out there like to see a concise work on this fabulous pottery???

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Partnership Histories

Bishop and Stonier Partnerships

Key dates

1851 - 1866 Livesley Powell & Co. Old Hall Lane and Miles Bank, Hanley.

1867 - 1878 Powell & Bishop. Parliament Row and Stafford Street Works, Hanley.

1878 - 1891 Powell, Bishop & Stonier. Stafford Street Works, Hanley.

1891 - 1933 Bishop & Stonier. Various addresses, Hanley.

1933 - 1939 George Jones & Sons bought the company and continued use of the Bisto trade mark.

Livesley Powell & Co. was formed in 1845 by William Livesley, Edwin Powell and Frederick Bishop. The Livesley family were potters in Hanley; Edwin Powell was a potter who had been apprenticed at Dimmocks of Hanley; and Frederick Bishop was a lawyer providing financial support to the venture.

In 1866 William Livesley retired and the partnership became known as Powell and Bishop. In 1878 Powell and Bishop were joined by John Stonier who was a china and glass merchant in Liverpool, employing around 400 people. One of his company's specialities was fitting out liners of the day, such as Brunel's Great Britain and the ill-fated Titanic.

Livesley Powell produced a variety of bodies including china, parian, and ironstone china and used transfer printing (sometimes in lilac), moulded, painted and lustre decoration. They patented a process of printing in gold and colours which produced a dead gold background. Much of their production was exported, with over one million different items sent to New York alone in 1851. They are reported to have exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition. Marks on their wares incorporate the name of the firm or the initials L.P. & Co.

In 1876, Powell and Bishop exhibited at the Philadelphia Exhibition.

In 1880, Powell, Bishop and Stonier registered a new trademark to accompany their ivory or cream coloured earthenware. This shows a seated Chinaman under a sunshade or umbrella containing the words ORIENTAL IVORY - their name for the earthenware body. This oriental ivory body and their green bodied porcelain were ideal vehicles for Japanese inspired designs which were popular in the Victorian period. These often featured asymmetrical floral and bird designs.

In 1891 Duncan Watson Bishop and John Stonier created a new company trade mark BISTO, using the first letters of their surnames. This name was incorporated into the backstamp of the period - the Wand of Caduceus. In 1906 they were using an advertising slogan in the trade press ' The sun never sets on Bisto wares'.

In the 1920s a new range of designs using bright and lustrous colours was produced, known as 'Aztec Ware' . Children's nursery ware was also produced featuring nursery rhymes and stories. Other wares of the 20th century period included bathroom sets, vases and sardine dishes. In 1933, the company was taken over by George Jones & Sons. They continued to use the wand mark and also the mark of a bishop until 1939.

PLATES, the most underrated collectable!

Here is a selection of plates from my collection.
I think plates are a great way for collectors on a budget to build their collections and their knowledge. Most plates will have come from large dinner services and will help you build a catalogue of patterns from your chosen manufacturer's works. Alternatively, they may have been made specifically as "cabinet" pieces, designed to be displayed and highly decorated by skilled artists. Examples of plates made not for the purpose of eating off were often bought by wealthy aristocrats to show off to their guests and famous collections from factories like Sevres and Meissen can be found in museums and posh country pads. Plates used for display purposes now seem to be very out of vogue. They don't often look contemporary or sit easily in a modern home, unless of course you are trying for a look that says, "ironic" chintz. A beautiful pine dresser or rustic style cornice shelf may be one display option, but my advice is, less is more - if you want to display your collection in this way, make it a statement with colour (Blue & White is a perennial favourite), or shape perhaps - a selection of ribbed or unusually shaped plates looks great. You may, of course, simply display a cross-section of your collection irrespective of the clashing designs, and be quite academic about it, saying that you want it to represent a range work from your chosen manufacturer. But to your guests, they may simply look a jumble without further explanation and I don't think many of use would want to label our collections with little form board signs like you see in museums.

a selection of jugs from my burgeoning collection...

Here is just a small selection of the jugs in my collection; they line the top of one of my bookcases and show a timeline of manufacture through the various partnerships. The oldest is an L&P (Livesley Powell) jug with beautiful flower and bird transfer print design and handpainted enamel colouring. There is another of a similar design from the oriental ivory range called "Wild Rose", made by the partnership of Powell Bishop & Stonier. The tall thin jug with the Deco interpretation of a Pre-raphelite woman is a very interesting and rare Bisto design. The pattern was designed by Louis Rhead (of the famous Rhead family....Frederick....Charlotte) who was a well-known illustrator who travelled to America and France. This image was used for The Sun magazine which in itself makes it very appropriate that Bisto should use it because one of their marketing mottos was, "the Sun never sets on Bisto wares", probably referring to their widespread export to all four corners of the globe. Indeed, by this stage in the company's history, it really was a worldwide trading empire!.

About Me

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Sometimes, life doesn't turn out the way you expected. And sometimes, it is exactly as it was 'meant' to be. But whilst i'm not a believer in fate or fatalism, I do believe that life is a both a learning experience and an obstacle course to be climbed and clambered over in the most creative way possible! In doing so, you'll get to where you should be even if it's not where you'd imagined.
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