19Oct

Ceramic Dynamic: Cool, Vintage Tableware – Made in the UK

Obviously there were numerous different brands making ceramics and tableware in the UK during the latter part of the 20th century. However we will endevour to scratch the surface of the most readily available, affordable and of course the coolest items!

Several of the lines and designers for Midwinter are highly valued by collectors, Toadstools by Jessie Tait and Saladware by Terence Conran are two such designs.

The companies of J & G Meakin, Johnson Brothers, Alfred Meakin, Ridgway and Pearson were all related and their activities intertwined, which explains why some of the designs from the 1950s and 1960s have similar themes however they also have some iconic shape and designs.

Johnson Bros. coffee set, Flying Geese design.

Studio Shape tea plate from J&G Meakin with the INCA pattern.

J & G Meakin Studio jug. White ironstone base with a design of a sunflower (Palma)

Alfred Meakin – brother of J&G- founded in the late 19th century and also exported mainly to the US prior to WW2. Postwar the company was responsible for the production of many great designs. These are some of the more delicate designs and also some of the more affordable.

Fiesta plate made in the early 1960s by Barker Bros. influenced by the Homemaker pattern by by Enid Seeney's Homemaker pattern (Ridgeway, 1955)

The firm of Broadhurst & Sons had the foresight to employ a young Kathie Winkle as a paintress in 1950. However, it took until 1958 for her to start designing her own patterns, she designed geometric patterns in simple colour ways; usually only about 3 to save money. 

Her patterns became increasingly popular due to the increased demand of new styles of kitchenware. Kathie Winkle produced over 100 eye catching designs; all are signed on the base so can be easily found. 

The designs comprised two parts - an outline in black created by the stamping process with bright colours then hand painted in the spaces before glazing. Like her contemporary designers, the new geometric patterns were a clear departure from the more usual floral motifs found on tableware. However, her designs were determinedly popular, with a utilitarian flavour- all made in the same shape on white ceramic and very definitely for the working person.

Beautiful leaf shaped side plates- no stamp so may not be from UK but definitely bought in UK!

Windsor bone china coffee set 1966 black crosshatch design on a white background.

Buying ceramic items online can be tricky, shipping is not cheap and when the item arrives it is dispiriting if the description and photos have not truly depicted the condition of your new acquisition.

At Repsycho we always endeavour to avoid disappointment and describe the condition fully. Chipped or cracked items are usually weeded out- we don’t generally list damaged items. But a few tiny nibbles, fading to the pattern or a little crazing, you can be sure we will mention it in the listing.

Vintage mid-late 20th century ceramic homeware has been popular for many years in the UK, recently this market has grown in many other countries too. Obviously, there is a limit to the number of damage free items available and as they grow rarer interest in obtaining them increases too. Post-war the trend was to banish the dreary wartime darkness, in Britain, as soon as rationing allowed. Colour, vibrancy and opulence exploded onto the design scene! In the world of ceramics, a new contemporary look was created and it is that innovation which is so desired by collectors today.

Midwinter is one of the best known and most popular ceramic producers of modern design in mass market ceramics from the 1950s to the 1970s. As managing director, Roy Midwinter modernised and glamourized, recognizing changing appetites and developing new shapes the public would appreciate keeping ahead of the market and developing fashions during the decades following the war. 

His most recognisable styles are Stylecraft, Fashion and Stonehenge. All adorned with designs by various talented designers, Jessie Tait and Eve Midwinter being the most synonymous with the brand while more prominent collaborators included Terence Conran, Hugh Casson and Peter Scott.

Ridgeway 1970s Indian Summer Trio.

J & G Meakin was originally founded in 1851 manufacturing tableware in Stoke-on-Trent in England. Before 1945 they made inexpensive items, which were particularly exported to America. After the 2nd world war the expansion in the UK market for tableware for the home, resulted in J&G Meakin producing a wide range of both traditional and fashionable shapes and patterns. In 1968 J&G Meakin took over Midwinter Pottery. Over 100 patterns on 17 different shaped pieces have been recorded for the period 1945-1975. J&G Meakin's Studio Shape, date from 1964 to the late 1970s. The designers involved in developing the Studio Shape range include Alan Rogers, Tom Arnold, Frank Trigger and the more well-known Jessie Tait.

Alfred Meakin TV Cup and Tray featuring the Brixham design. A fantastic product for the new TV era- just the thing for the viewing audience!

Broadhurst & Sons, Compass 1960

Calypso Coffee Pot

Of course, as any fashionista should know – it’s not all about the labels! You really should buy what you like and what you can afford - whoever made it! There are some great items available to be purchased at flea markets, second hand stores, car boots and charity shops around the country as well as online.

Elizabethan fine bone china, design: Portabello

Portmeirion, a small storage/spice jar with a cork stopper, featuring a fantastic abstract pattern, Variations, designed by Susan Williams-Ellis

Hornsea trio from 1976/77, Saffron design by John Clappison

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