John Shelly / Solly? - MCWebs, split from Ebay/Car Boot thread

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Post by NaomiM on September 17th 2020, 1:30 am

MCWebs wrote:This weeks pickings =

John Shelly / Solly? - MCWebs, split from Ebay/Car Boot thread  Eb93c510

John  shelly small jug, mull pottery marmalade jar, tony gant straw vase and a large mike powers cheese dish and cover...

Dont know what the FS mark is on the john shelly... perhaps name of the pottery?

John Shelly / Solly? - MCWebs, split from Ebay/Car Boot thread  37446b10



Maybe Frank Smith?


Last edited by NaomiM on October 8th 2020, 1:41 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by MCWebs on September 17th 2020, 1:33 am

not sure 2 potters would be needed to make a small green jug?
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Post by studio-pots on September 17th 2020, 8:47 am

They are the marks of John Solly and Frank Smith, whose potteries were maybe half a mile a part in Kent. It could have been from when Frank was setting up and John was helping him get started with tips, glazing etc.

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Post by MCWebs on September 17th 2020, 1:04 pm

Many thanks for the extra info - always very much appreciated Happy
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Post by MCWebs on September 17th 2020, 1:08 pm

Its john shelly not solly btw, john solly didnt have a tail to top of J...
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Post by studio-pots on September 17th 2020, 5:30 pm

You are correct that there isn't a John Solly mark like this in the book but there is a mark like this attributed to John Shelly when he was at the Bath Pottery making earthenware.

However, the FS is definitely Frank Smith, who began potting under his own name in Kent in 1976, after starting out with Colin Pearson in Aylesford. His work was the first studio pottery I ever bought back in 1988 directly from him at the pottery and the stoneware body of your jug matches one that he used.

In 1976 John Shelly was living in Devon and I am not even sure if he was actively potting at that time. In any case I know of no connection between the two and they lived 250 miles apart. Therefore I can't see any likelihood of John Shelly having any connection with the piece.


In 1976 John Solly wasn't down the road from Frank but potting 25 miles away (he moved down the road from Frank in 1986). However, I know that he had connections with the David Leach & Colin Pearson, as David told me that he got many of his glazes recipes from John Solly when David was making earthenware at Lowerdown in the late 1950s. Hence the reason for me saying the JS on your jug was a John Solly mark.

Obviously, I might be incorrect about John Solly being responsible for glazing the jug, which I was suggesting, but it does fit much better than John Shelly, who only used this mark 20 years earlier at the Bath Pottery.

When I saw your correction to my post something else came to mind and that was that I remembered Frank saying that his wife had been involved in the pottery in the early days. I have checked and found out that Mrs. Smith's first name was Jean so.......... maybe another option?

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Post by NaomiM on September 17th 2020, 6:06 pm

The JS mark has been attributed to John Shelly several times, and John Solly has been discounted or someone has asked him - I have a note saying Not John Solly - but if Frank Smith wasn’t at Bath Pottery then it’s more likely that the JS is neither of them but instead belongs to Jean Smith.
I’ve added “Jean Smith?” to the titles of various threads with these marks so we can find them again

Another example here - John Shelly / Solly? - MCWebs, split from Ebay/Car Boot thread  0cf64a10

An example of the JS mark on its own, attributed to John Shelley but I think that now needs to be verified because it’s so similar to the JS on the Frank Smith piece.

John Shelly / Solly? - MCWebs, split from Ebay/Car Boot thread  20b7d910

An example of John Shelley’s mark

John Shelly / Solly? - MCWebs, split from Ebay/Car Boot thread  9f019210

An example of the JS mark plus a mystery LJ mark. Did Frank and Jean have any children who joined them potting? It’s possible it’s not JS but an SJ monogram

John Shelly / Solly? - MCWebs, split from Ebay/Car Boot thread  1e34af10

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Post by MCWebs on September 17th 2020, 8:47 pm

closest mark i've seen is the Fournier Book mark and looks like the John Shelly mark to me even the elongated outer fits - John Shelly to me...
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Post by MCWebs on September 17th 2020, 8:51 pm

definately not Jean Smith's work
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Post by NaomiM on September 17th 2020, 9:54 pm

The JS mark is too close to John Shelly’s in the Marks book not to be his, imo, so I’m going to say JS = John Shelly and not John Solly.
We don’t know Jean Smith’s mark (Frank Smith’s wife) as she’s not in the book.
So that must mean the FS mark isn’t Frank Smith

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Post by studio-pots on September 21st 2020, 10:03 am

NaomiM wrote:The JS mark is too close to John Shelly’s in the Marks book not to be his, imo, so I’m going to say JS = John Shelly and not John Solly.
We don’t know Jean Smith’s mark (Frank Smith’s wife) as she’s not in the book.
So that must mean the FS mark isn’t Frank Smith

Then we have a difference of opinion. I feel you both seem to be using everything in the "Book" as being "gospel" and definitive, which it is not and has never suggested it is.

Of course, you might be correct but I don't see that there is enough evidence to draw the conclusions that you have.


Last edited by studio-pots on September 21st 2020, 10:12 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by studio-pots on September 21st 2020, 10:05 am

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The grey glaze on this example looks very much like that developed by John Solly, the recipe of which he gave to David Leach for his earthenware made at Lowerdown in the 1950s.

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