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An occasional series on our favourite Moorcroft pots
3. CORNISH COVE by Paul Hilditch
Six Views of Cornwall
By Viv Trafford, Moorcroft Collector and invaluable colleague at the Cotswold Shop
So much to choose from – it’s a bit like Desert Island Discs ! Well, if my ship were sinking the pot I would grab and carry to safety would be Paul Hilditch’s Cornish Cove – a suitably nautical piece !
Designed on the unusual 63/7 shape, Cornish Cove is one of the most characterful pieces Moorcroft have produced in recent years. Released in 2009 in a limited edition of 200, it’s no surprise that it sold out very quickly: I was lucky to get mine !
I’ve always admired Paul Hilditch’s designs. He excels at detailed pieces (which must require enormous work from the tube liners and painters) and given a large canvas to work with he’s able to use the space to tell a story. Cornish Cove is hexagonal, and Paul uses each of the six panels to show a picturesque scene of a small Cornish fishing village.
So, each day I turn the vase to show a panel of this wonderfully vibrant piece. It has three main scenes, and as I turn it I feel as if I’m wandering through the tiny seaside alleys. I walk down the cobbled streets to the beach, calling in at the Sloop Inn to sit outside with a drink, watching the artist with his brush and easel.
Then on to the Hill Top guest house, with its cat snoozing in the porch.
In the background, reminding us that this is still a working fishing village, the boats come home past the lighthouse, the day’s work done.
Finally I wander past the temptations of the souvenir shop.
My six days are gone and I am back to walking down to the harbour again. Perfect.
New catalogue for 2013–2014
Moorcroft have released their Lamp catalogue for 2013–14.
Highlights include six new ranges (Calypso and Golden Pansy look set to be very popular) and additions to existing ranges, including two new pieces in Peacock Parade.
Please email me if you’d like a brochure or click here for photos and further details of the new ranges. Remember that all our prices include shades, as well as the usual free shipping in the UK.
Please note that while we can ship lamps overseas, the additional packing costs caused by the shades can make it a costly exercise.
This year’s Christmas pieces now in stock !
Christmas shopping does not usually begin in August, but that’s when Moorcroft have decided to announce Snowmen’s Greetings, the follow-up to last year’s very successful Christmas in the Potteries.
Comprising two small vases in the 7/3 (£184) and 72/6 (£324) patterns and a 780/4 coaster (£117) these open editions are designed by Vikky Lovatt and are good-natured – and very collectable – pieces.
To find out more, or to place your order, click here.
Moorcroft celebrate the arrive of a royal prince
To celebrate the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first child, His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge, Moorcroft have produced this small numbered edition vase, designed by Nicola Slaney – A Royal Arrival.
Nicola has drawn A Royal Arrival on the 117/5 shape (height 5 inches/12.5 cm) to show the new prince fast asleep in the grounds of Windsor Castle. It’s a whimsical design created to enchant.
Moorcroft are currently producing the first A Royal Arrival pieces, and retailers will receive display pieces around the end of the month. If you wish to order a vase please let me know as soon as possible.
A Royal Arrival has an RRP of £285; we will offer our usual 10% discount and free next day insured shipping anywhere in the UK. For more details, click here.
Sumptuous new biography of Pottery’s founder released as part of Centenary celebrations
William Moorcroft: Behind the Glaze is a beautifully illustrated hardback history of the life of the boy from Burslem whose pottery and workshop were destined to outlast all the others.
Neil Swindell’s book concentrates on the history of the man, chronicling his years at Macintyre and the rise to fame when Liberty invested in his new factory. Swindell has had access to both the factory and the family archives, and his diligent research has unearthed some new images and many new facts and stories about William the man and Moorcroft the pottery. The book boasts 117 colour photographs and 110 black and white images.
Standing alongside Walter Moorcroft's 1999 memoir “Life and Living”, and Paul Atterbury's distinguished “Guide to Moorcroft Pottery”, “Behind the Glaze” is the definitive story of the man behind the pottery – and a very desirable item for any collector.
“William Moorcroft: Behind the Glaze” retails for £30, but I am giving away a copy with every Limited or Numbered piece of the Legacy Collection (subject to availability).
...and how to avoid ‘graded’ pieces and so-called ‘bargains’ on eBay
As any Moorcroft collector knows, no two pieces of their pottery are ever identical: subtle differences in colouring and tubelining are what give the pottery its magnificent individuality. Moorcroft strenuously check each firing for quality control, and many pieces don’t make it out of the factory gates.
When I receive a batch of pieces from Moorcroft I check each carefully for fidelity of colour and quality of glaze. Those pieces that do not reach my standards are sent back to the factory. So, in buying from the Cotswold Shop, you have a guarantee that you are buying the very best of the best.
From time to time you may see other online sellers offering significant discounts on current Moorcroft stock. Let the buyer beware: as you may know Moorcroft sell ‘seconds’, which are clearly marked with a red dot, and more recently ‘Graded’ pieces – which are not marked. These graded pieces...
These Graded pieces have flaws (or poor colouring) only noticeable to the experienced eye, but the fact they’re not marked means they can be passed off by unscrupulous dealers as first quality stock. Indeed, most of the 'bargains' you will find on eBay and other discount internet sites selling Moorcroft are Graded or substandard pieces. Sadly, for the buyer, they have little investment value.
I have never and will never sell anything other than Moorcroft’s finest, first quality pieces.
It goes without saying that it's not in the interest of sellers to tell you you're not buying the very best pieces. I have over twenty years’ experience of handling and selling Moorcroft, and I inspect every piece that comes in from the factory. I return a proportion of the stock I am sent, and that stock will find its way onto the market.
Many retailers believe that Moorcroft should clearly mark Graded pieces: Moorcroft argue that without the sale of such pieces the company would struggle to survive.
Whatever your views, wherever you buy, ensure that what you're buying is of the best quality, and remember that here at the Cotswold Shop we only ever sell the best of the best.
An occasional series on our favourite Moorcroft pots
2. POWDER BLUE by William Moorcroft
by Jack Holland
Hmm. My favourite piece: am I allowed to cheat slightly ?
While I appreciate the skills of Moorcroft’s superb decorative ceramics, my favourite pieces are from the Powder Blue range.
Originally designed in 1913 to be sold at Liberty’s shop in London, Powder Blue marked a surprising change in William Moorcroft’s aesthetic. The Powder Blue pieces – and he created a whole kitchen’s worth, with plates, teapots, coffee cups and, most endearingly, toast racks – were designed to be used on a daily basis. It’s this functionality that – for me – makes the Powder Blue range so attractive. The philosphy that practical (continued...)
Jack’s Moorcroft Powder Blue collection is pictured right.
The philosophy that practical, everyday objects should be well designed, and that form should follow function, is usually attributed to the Modernist Movement. While William Moorcroft would never have considered himself a Modernist, the confidence which imbues the Powder Blue pieces was given the thumbs up by the guru of architectural Modernism, Nikolaus Pevsner (he of the “Buildings of England” fame):
“William Moorcroft’s Powder Blue… is as ‘modern’ as anything created now and as ‘modern’ as Josiah Wedgewood’s sets – i.e. undatedly perfect”.
Not everyone shared this enthusiasm. King George V wondered out loud what bacon and eggs would look like served on a blue plate…
Growing up as a child in Staffordshire in the 1960s it was impossible not to be touched by the Pottery industry. Every extended family would have at least one member working in the business (in my case an uncle who was a Manager at H&R Johnson) and in many cases several generations would work for the same firm.
Sadly all this is now gone – with the exception of Moorcroft – but older Potteries people will still steal a quick glimpse under a plate to see who made it: habits, like traditions, die hard. In times past you would have pieces for ‘best’ (usually kept in the ‘parlour’) which were never used, rarely even touched, apart from with a duster. But with Powder Blue at everyday prices, even the most humble household could afford a piece of prestige Moorcroft Pottery.
Moorcroft contined to produce Powder Blue right up until 1963. Demand had waned and the potters with the skill to make it were starting to retire (Powder Blue was surprisingly tricky and time-consuming to cast and fire*). While it remained undatedly perfect, Powder Blue couldn't compete with the cheap mass-produced ceramics of the sixties.
Today, certain Powder Blue pieces reach high prices for their retro value, but it’s easy and affordable to start a collection. Cups and saucers start for a few pounds, and for a modest outlay you can assemble your own Powder Blue tea service. It’s prettier than anything from IKEA, and visitors will always ask “Where did you find this wonderful blue pottery…?”
*For a fascinating account of the technical problems that contributed to the demise of Powder Blue, see the excellent Collecting Moorcroft Pottery, p.39 (www.francisjoseph.org/Moorcroft.pdf)
Tribute collection to 100 years of Moorcroft Pottery has some gems
William Moorcroft founded the pottery that bears his name on 23rd April 1913, and to celebrate the anniversary Moorcroft have brought out the Legacy Collection of pieces, each of which has some connection with Moorcroft’s hundred-year history. At the top end of the eleven-piece collection are two superb limited editions that will have collectors drooling: Rachel Bishop’s Tree of Life and Nicola Slaney’s Owl and Pigeon.
The Legacy collection also contains a very affordable new range, Peacock Parade, inspired by the Moorcroft’s classic Peacock Feathers design of 1899.
All of the Legacy pieces will have a special backstamp. We’ve already had our first deliveries and pieces have sold: as ever, please let me know if there's something you’re especially interested in, as eight of the eleven pieces are Limited Editions, and allocations to all dealers will be small.