How to ID pottery

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How to ID pottery

Post by dantheman on June 17th 2010, 6:21 pm

Recently we touched on the problem of identifying unmarked pottery, as with unmarked glass the ID process can be confusing and uncertain with many contradictory theories and ideas.

As we have a varied group of collectors from all corners of the earth, I thought it a good opportunity to compare notes + share techniques and resources, I look forward to your tips, advice and comments.

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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by big ed on June 17th 2011, 12:42 pm

This thread Dan set up could maybe help us with more identification of pots , as it's always a topical feature on the forum , we do have a good mix of members with various interests ,so feel free to leave any info you might think would help regarding finding out those hard to read or obscure names .
We will never ever be able to Id all the studio pots around , as you know every town , village, hamlet etc, all had potters ,Pros & Ams , multiply that around the country , then add other countries and we see the problem , but every new one Id'd is a bonus .
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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by big ed on June 17th 2011, 12:43 pm

http://www.studiopottery.com/

The Studio Pottery site is excellent and well used .
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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by big ed on June 17th 2011, 12:45 pm

http://www.cpaceramics.co.uk/link.php

The Craft Potters Association
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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by studio-pots on June 17th 2011, 1:20 pm

The majority of studio potters do mark their work, even if we don't know the name of the potter that corresponds to the mark. Even then occasionally people just forget to mark the odd pot, which is more often the case with production of standard wares such as Winchcombe.

However, the real problem is that some important potters don't mark their work or have gone through stages of not marking it and this leads to mis-attribution. The Japanese potter, Shoji Hamada, is an example of this and, although exhibition work was supplied with a marked box, it is very easy to take out the Hamada pot and replace it with an unmarked pot that is similar and sell this on as being by Hamada himself.

In the UK the work of Richard Batterham, Svend Bayer and Clive Bowen comes to mind and you often see unmarked pieces similar (or sometimes not that similar) to their work in auctions both around the country and online with a firm attribution. The only way to stop being caught is to see enough of the work of the potter in question. Maybe it would help to have an "unmarked pottery" section on here split into potters, who don't mark, with images of their work?


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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by dantheman on June 17th 2011, 1:44 pm

an inspired idea,we need to make it more specific though or it will get clogged up with all the unmarked but worthless

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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by studio-pots on June 17th 2011, 2:01 pm

Yes I think one of the consultants on here needs to have the power of who to include.

For example, besides the UK potters I have mentioned I might suggest Patrick Sargent but think that I ought to either have to make a case for his inclusion or be prepared for it to be removed to another section if not felt appropriate.

I would be happy to go along with something like that.

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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by dantheman on June 17th 2011, 2:06 pm

I wouldn't want to make that decision...perhaps we could have premier and first divisions

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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by big ed on June 17th 2011, 2:26 pm

I think as the thread priority is about IDing pots then comments , attributions etc should all be included here , the potters who don't mark their work can be featured here with a pic or two as a guide and then discussed ,( I know seeing the stuffin the flesh should be the best guide) the shoji hamada piece I saw only had a "MADE IN JAPAN " label , also I heard some prisoners doing pottery classes were turning out very good Bernard Leach pots , so it aint easy Laughter
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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by studio-pots on June 17th 2011, 5:44 pm

I agree big ed that it isn't easy and there is nothing like seeing and touching pots but I think that it is a good idea to give people who visit this forum as much information as possible to help them make a better judgement.

For example I haven't seen the Japanese pot you mention but if I was told that something with a "Made in Japan" label was by Hamada I would walk away and advise anyone else to do the same.

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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by big ed on June 17th 2011, 6:36 pm

yes , I thought the same , but there you go some actually had that label on them , I saw it in the paisley museum where they have a very good collection .
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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by big ed on June 17th 2011, 6:43 pm

Lot 290: Shoji Hamada (1894-1978) A stoneware charger, wax Shoji Hamada - 1894-1978
Auction House: Woolley & Wallis
Auction Location: United Kingdom
Auction Title: British Art Pottery
Auction Date: 2009
+ Expand
Description: Shoji Hamada (1894-1978) A stoneware charger, wax resist decorated with a flower stem in tenmoku, remains of Made in Japan paper label 31.5cm. high
Here's a description from an old auction.
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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by studio-pots on June 17th 2011, 11:19 pm

I was at the sale, saw the charger and walked away and if I had been asked I would have advised anyone else to do the same.

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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by studio-pots on June 17th 2011, 11:31 pm

To expand on that, the charger looks as if it might be by Hamada but only "might". The only attribution is by the vendor and the auction house, which is worth nothing, as they have everything to gain from the charger selling for the highest price and there was nothing else to back up their attribution. The label is a negative.

Basically no-one can be certain if Hamada made the charger or not, if they could be then it would have sold for far more than it did.

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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by big ed on June 18th 2011, 7:17 am

well I have no reason to doubt the integrity of the museum piece that I saw in paisley , as hamada didn't sign much of his stuff except in the early days then the provenance is with the holder , this piece was displayed alongside numerous bernard leach , luci rei, cardew , coper pieces etc , I would also be wary at an auction though .
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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by dantheman on June 18th 2011, 7:32 am

it's wise to get written provenance from living artists/potters if you own a very valuable piece of their work but can't prove it's background.
I have several rare examples that are not marked as such but the potters have all sent me a summary of their production & often include notes detailing the process so there can be no dispute with future buyers

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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by big ed on June 18th 2011, 8:00 am

Yes , I would go along with that , I have letters from a few potters to that effect , some living artists need no provenance though with certain pieces , but some galleries will provide it with the potters who are presently pushing up the daisies.
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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by studio-pots on June 18th 2011, 10:03 am

I agree that written provenance with some items is essential for me to purchase. Going back to the Hamada at the auction, if it had come together with a receipt from, say, the Beaux Arts Gallery dated 1952 with a description, then I would have felt confident that it was by Hamada. Hamada's work did not come to this country willy nilly and an exhibition at Beaux Arts took place in that year when the label may have been necessary, due to it being just after the Second World War.

I think the advise for anyone is that they need to be convinced themselves and take no notice of what the auction house, gallery or dealer tells them. Even the most honest seller can be wrong on occasions.

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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by big ed on June 18th 2011, 12:42 pm

150619893308 on ebay , even the galleries get it wrong sometimes , this is Jason Wason , not Joanna Laughter
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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by studio-pots on June 18th 2011, 4:23 pm

Even I get it wrong sometimes and you are right that the dealer has got the wrong Wason on the ebay item.

Maybe the Young Mr. F is wondering why the bidding is so strong. In this case I suppose that it doesn't matter, as a Jason is worth more than a Joanna and I am sure the bidders know who made it.


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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by big ed on June 18th 2011, 4:28 pm

That's right John , I know he knows , Iv'e dealt with him before , but it's nice to see someone else make the boobies for a change , PS I always prefered Joanna pieces Happy
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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by studio-pots on June 18th 2011, 4:53 pm

I remember back in 1996/7 a friend of mine bought a small pedestal dish from the Contemporary Ceramics sale at the London auction house that at the time was the leader in the field. It was catalogued as being Japanese with two indistinct marks. I and most others probably didn't bother to look and he bought it for around 26, including commission. In July 1997 he put it in a Studio Pottery sale at Christie's in South Kensington (lot 37) and it sold for 1900. It was properly catalogued as being by a Japanese potter but had been made in this country. The seals were for the Leach Pottery and Hamada.

I don't think I have made as big a mistake as "Auntie Cyril" did that time.

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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by big ed on June 19th 2011, 1:23 pm

Another good way of Iding the hamada pots is, if you throw one against a concrete wall ..........really really hard and it doesn't break into a million pieces then it's a fake.
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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by Potty Primate on July 1st 2011, 12:26 pm

Re: How to ID pottery
by big ed on Fri Jun 17, 2011 6:43 pm

Auction Title: British Art Pottery
Description: Shoji Hamada (1894-1978) A stoneware charger, wax resist decorated with a flower stem in tenmoku, remains of Made in Japan paper label 31.5cm. high

Bit of an oxymoron?
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Re: How to ID pottery

Post by big ed on July 1st 2011, 1:21 pm

Why?
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