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 for the additional information).

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


2 thoughts on “Charlotte Rhead Crown Ducal Trial?

  1. Hello, I’m wondering if you would know if Charlotte Rhead had other designers working with her. The reason I ask is that it has been suggested to me on quite good authority that one of contemporaries made some designs for her, particularly 4926.

    1. Hi Jane – There were no doubt other designers working alongside Charlotte at various potteries, but I’ve not heard of anyone designing patterns ‘for her’. It would seem at odds for pieces to have the facsimile Rhead signature if they weren’t designed by her. That isn’t to say that others didn’t have had a ‘collaborative’ input in various designs, but ultimately, I think we have to assume that she would have had the final say. I’d be interested to hear of any differing information! Peter

Any thoughts? Your views are welcome!