Monday, 3 June 2013

Snow Glaze (Book Update 1)

This post is especially for those who bought my book on the Crown Ducal snow glaze patterns. I always intended to provide an update should any new material come to light and this blog provides the easiest place to share it. Thank you to those who purchased the book and to contributors who came forward with new discoveries and information.

1. An unrecorded pattern with the Wincoma lithograph.

Unknown pattern number - Wincoma lithograph from the UTC on snow glaze
This was a lucky find on ebay, a couple of items in snow glaze with the Wincoma floral transfer border from the Universal Transfer Company. The two shapes are typical of the shape range used for the Princess commemorative patterns 5268 and 5269, so at the time it was uncertain if this design would be found on a full range of tableware. Then a few months later someone kindly contacted me through the http://www.rhead-crownducal.info website with pictures of Victory oval shape serving platters, Regent shaped covered serving dishes and some plates. So it is now certain that the Wincoma lithograph was used in conjunction with the snow glaze for tableware.

There are references in the pattern books for the Wincoma transfer on various tableware shapes, Cotswold, Victory, Queen Anne, Avon and Regent but no mention of its use with snow glaze. So the pattern number remains unknown but the standard snow glaze backstamp confirms that it would have been designed and made in the 1930s prior to World War II.

2. Examples of pattern 5032 discovered.


Examples of pattern 5032 in green and blue slip


Pattern 5032 in yellow slip
These were rather special discoveries for me because pattern 5032 is believed to be the only known tube-lined, snow glaze tableware pattern designed by Charlotte Rhead. And, not only does it tick all those Crown Ducal boxes, the design also employs the decorating technique of sponged slip clay. The coloured centres are not enamel colour but the same material as the tube-lining slip,  sponged onto the plate centres and cup interiors.

Several examples of tea service items in pattern 5032 have now been reported, in blue, green and yellow slip colours. All examples so far have been located in Australia and New Zealand. The fern leaves are very intricate so I presume these would have been quite expensive to produce. The fern is sometimes used as a national emblem in New Zealand so it may not be a coincidence that most examples have been found there. Perhaps the design was especially commissioned for retailers in New Zealand. The pattern book has it illustrated in pink slip but does mention that it was also executed in green, yellow and blue.

3. Notes on who photographed the Princesses.

In the book I wrote that the lithographs for patterns 5268 and 5269 are derived from photographs by Vandyk. My source of information is the Pottery Gazette, June 1937, page 797, which refers to the photographs used by Crown Ducal and reports, “It is only necessary to add that the portraits are by Vandyke to assure the trade that no effort has been spared to realise the height of perfection as regards the faithfulness of the likenesses”.

I see that in the 2012 Miller’s Collectibles Handbook the photographs are attributed to Marcus Adams. Certainly Marcus Adams took many photographs of Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose, but so did other photographers. The hairstyles of the princesses are distinctive but if one looks through The Royal Collection archives on the Internet their style stayed constant for a couple of years which means that almost any head only portrait from that time will look quite similar to another. I have informed the publishers of Miller’s Collectibles of the error.

4. Under-glaze and on-glaze versions of the same pattern.
 
Nome pattern 4616. Left, on-glaze enamels and right, under-glaze enamels

Close inspection of two tea cups in the Nome pattern, (4616), has revealed that some under-glaze patterns were also produced with on-glaze decoration. The cup on the left has on-glaze enamels and the right is under-glaze. Patterns 4614, 4615, 4616, 4617, 4618 & 4623 were all explicitly recorded in the pattern books with enamels under-glaze and so closer attention will need to be paid when inspecting these designs.

I have on-glaze and under-glaze examples in the Nome pattern so this is clearly not a one-off mistake but probably a change in the design. My understanding is that from a ceramic design and quality perspective, under-glaze decoration is regarded as superior. However, for practical reasons when manufacturing for the mass market on-glaze decoration was more efficient. The advantage of under-glaze decoration is its permanence and the beauty of the reaction between the colours and the glaze. The downside is that colour decoration onto the biscuit pottery is indelible, so mistakes cannot be corrected and might result in wastage or too many seconds. In a busy factory where speed and volume of production was important, together with Charlottes high quality standards perhaps her design ethic had to be compromised a little to ensure a viable production line.


5. Did Charlotte take snow glaze with her to H J Wood Ltd for her Bursley Ware?


Bursley Ware pattern TL12
Surely anyone who handles a Bursley Ware object in pattern TL12 would agree that it has snow glaze. This table lamp has a very smooth glaze finish yet has that silky look and feel similar to the Crown Ducal snow glaze tableware productions that were much smoother than the bumpy texture found on fancies. Perhaps we should not call it snow glaze, but this is typical Charlotte Rhead recycling her favourite motifs and successful styles. In a way this confirms that Charlotte made snow glaze her own, because I have yet to find evidence that Richardsons made any items with snow glaze after World War II. This is snow glaze reborn.

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If anyone would like to purchase a copy of the book - there are still some available. See the website for details. http://www.rhead-crownducal.info/Snow_Glaze/snow_glaze.html
 

Crown Ducal Snow Glaze Tableware and Decorative Pottery

Self published, small print run and not currently distributed to bookshops or Amazon, so no point in waiting for them to turn up there!

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