Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Cosy Pot

726 Fruit Trellis Cosy Pot Charlotte Rhead

One of the more curious items to have come out of the Wood & Sons / Bursley Ltd era was the ‘Cosy’ pot – a supposedly non-drip teapot that came in various colours & sizes.

The design itself was patented worldwide by Edmund William Abram in 1921. He claimed that it was ‘the perfect teapot’, although it was eventually also marketed as a coffee pot so as not to narrow the market for it. By all accounts, it was non-drip, although I must confess I haven’t tested it!

The licence to manufacture them was initially given to a number of potteries, but Wood & OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASons produced the majority; (Booths and Pountney’s of Bristol were amongst the other companies that manufactured the pots).  Abram’s company – Abram Allwares Ltd – unfortunately went into liquidation in the mid 1920s and Wood & Sons took over the patent registration. They continued to produce them until around 1932 and the ‘Cosy’ is usually found in some of the more popular patterns, such as Frederick Rhead’s Trellis, Chung, Yuan and Mikado, as well as Charlotte’s Seed Poppy and Bursley pattern 726 (shown at the top of the page).

Orange cosyThey were made in different sizes – the example shown at the top is the smallest one, standing at approx. 12.5cm (5″) high, intended presumably as a ‘tea for one’ pot. I have seen two other sizes (6.5″ & 8″ tall), but understand there may also be larger ones. The bigger pots tended to come in plain colours – one of them being a very bright orange, but they can also be found in pretty dull shades of brown. The examples that fetch the best money are understandably those in the tube-lined patterns, such as Trellis & Seed Poppy. I think it’s odd that a complicated design such as Seed Poppy was used on such a functional item; the majority were given the standard, plain tableware designs. Perhaps it was just a marketing thing, with the colourful versions being used in advertising and at trade fairs – I suppose that would explain why they are harder to come by.

Whilst the pots are not hard to spot given their shape, if you come across one anywhere and are unsure about its authenticity, then it’s worth checking the backstamp – they differed from the standard Wood & Sons or Bursley Ltd marks in that details of the Abram patent are printed in some detail, as well as the name of the manufacturer. An example of a Wood & Sons stamp is shown in the gallery below.

If anybody has actually made a pot of tea in a Cosy – I’d love to hear how it went…..

 

 

Charlotte Rhead Crown Ducal Trial?

Crown Ducal Trial Vase Charlotte RheadOK, here we go with another unconventional recent find. This is a strange one as it is clearly a trial piece – featuring a previously unseen pattern, as well as some colour variations and even notes written on the vase itself. Whilst there are no distinguishing marks – apart from the number incised on the base (173), which is a known Richardson’s / Crown Ducal shape – there has to be little doubt that Charlotte Rhead was somehow involved!

The obvious giveaway is clearly the decoration, but then there is also the orange ‘sponge’ finish to the ground, the tube-lining and also the colours used. What is most intriguing is the word ‘Robinsons’ (or ‘Rob’) that appears in a few placesSAM_0462 around the base of the vase, along with various numbers. I am assuming that given their location they are a reference to different colours – pantones if you want use the posh word – that have been used in the pattern. There was however a company around at the time – W.E. Robinson & Son, of Burslem – who were involved in the supply of clay and elements involved in pottery glazing, so perhaps it was a reference to their products.

It is a pretty rough and ready item, with unfinished tube-lining and patterns throughout – it even appears to have two different colour schemes on either side of the vase, right down to the orange colour on the rim and the base that stop half-way round. What is unmistakable however is the decoration itself, which carries echoes of other well known patterns by Charlotte Rhead. I’ve started a short list, but points are on offer to anybody who can think of any more……….

I’ve included the image of 4926 here as this is the pattern that the vase reminds me of most, in terms of the swirling scrolls around the central panel. They would have been produced at similar times – which came first is anyone’s guess! What is interesting is that several different elements of known patterns seem to be involved.

I’ve added some further images below in a gallery format, which will hopefully provide a better illustration of the various things at work on this vase. At first glance, it looks as though this was a ‘practice’ piece, perhaps for a newly arrived decorator who wanted to have a go at perfecting their technique before getting to work on the real thing. What makes it more than that however, (in my opinion), is that there are clearly efforts made here to come up with a new pattern, possibly for commercial release. On top of that, there are the colour (or materials) references, which perhaps signify some work going into perfecting the most effective and attractive finished product. It all adds to the intrigue, conjecture and debate, and illustrates further that there is still lots more to find out, not just about Charlotte herself, but also the production techniques at the factories she worked for.

(NB. Thanks to Ian at http://www.rhead-crownducal.info for the additional information).

This unique vase is now available to buy! Click here for details.