Woods / Denby props

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Woods / Denby props Empty Denby cups and saucers as film props

Post by Frescobaldi February 22nd 2021, 1:44 pm

I have a question for Denby specialists!
A long time ago I worked in the theatre, and in the props cupboard there was a tea set. I remember seeing that the name was Denby. Since then I look out for it in films and television programmes, and it comes up quite often. It does duty as 1930s art deco, 1940s, and any date village institute cups and saucers, especially in English settings. It is seen either as pale blue or pale green - no decoration, but it has conical cups with lines around the middle. It is very like the USA Harlequin style, but without the angular handles and the strong glaze colours. What is it please? It is quite easy to spot - all you have to do is look out for is a scene with English people drinking tea in wartime!


Last edited by Frescobaldi on February 22nd 2021, 1:46 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo and clarification)
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Post by NaomiM February 22nd 2021, 2:44 pm

Woods ware?

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-retro-woods-ware-beryl-cups-1776727712

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Post by Frescobaldi February 22nd 2021, 3:15 pm

Thank you NaomiM - yes you are correct. Should the post be moved to somewhere else and retitled? If so I would be grateful if you would do the honours - thank you.
I should have recognised that it was utility design, but I was fixed on 30's. look at the useful little latches on the handles that look like ornaments, but would actually be positioned to enable an English person to keep a good grip on their cup of tea! I notice that Harlequin was actually made by Denby and I remember looking carefully, so I wonder if the ones I saw back in 1969 were actual Harlequin, and subsequently I saw Beryl ware as the same. Or may be it is just my memory playing tricks.
Interestingly the roles of Beryl ware as a prop is acknowledged in the website Replace Your China https://www.replaceyourchina.com/woods-ware-beryl-202-c.asp
where it states:
"Beryl had been manufactured for many years and is often recognized in television period dramas set in the 1960's and 70's. Items have now become quite difficult to find it good condition (perhaps the TV companies have got them all). "
Thank you again.
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Post by denbydump February 24th 2021, 12:30 pm

Denby "harlequin" was a design from 1992.
Woods Beryl (green), Jasmine (yellow), and Iris (blue), were successful utilitarian
ranges from the late 1940s and the early 1950s.
I'm sure these are what you are referring to, and yes, standard "retro" props.

I'll move this to pottery discussion.
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Post by Grumpy Grandad February 25th 2021, 1:46 pm

Personally, I think that Woods Beryl ware should be up there with the Mini, post boxes, red public telephone boxes, etc, as an everyday icon of British utilitarian design. Up until the late 1970s it was everywhere: state schools, works' canteens, cafes, hospitals (on the wards and visitors' canteens), and it was the ubiquitous everyday dinnerware in the homes of the working class.

It's only serious rival was the 'Dawn' range from Johnson Brothers (Grey, Green, Rose) but I think that the J. Bros range was seen as slightly 'posher' and was probably a little more expensive which would have ruled it out as not cost-effective for such high-volume, high breakage environments as canteens and schools, etc.
Can anybody think of any other range that was used so widely? And is there anybody here who can say that they have never actually eaten off or drank from Beryl ware at least once?
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Post by Frescobaldi May 17th 2021, 6:44 pm

Thank you, 20th Century Forum experts, for the information you have given me about this ware.

Interestingly I have just come across a stash of Beryl Ware in the Iris styling (thank you, Denbydump!) and was glad to be able to pass on what you have told me here, borrowing your knowledge.

I agree with Grumpy Grandad too, I think the more I look at Beryl, the more I see it as the best of utility style, form following function, first class manufacturing craftsmanship, consistent visual economy of design, with the restrained but meaningful decoration that utility permitted. Bravo, Beryl!

I am surprised that Harlequin dates from 1992 - it is so art deco-ish - someone was looking through a back catalogue perhaps and found Woods Beryl ware. My 1969 memory must have been faulty, obviously!

Thank you all for the information and and thank you NaomiM for identifying it in the first place. Now I must have a look at Johnson Brothers' Dawn range... thank you all once again.
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