L: mark, Leach St Ives Pottery

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Post by Neil62 Thu Aug 25, 2022 10:55 pm

Good evening,
I have been trying to identify the mark on two pots as photographs.
Both pots have clear marks for L: mark, Leach St Ives Pottery  95660510
L: mark, Leach St Ives Pottery  10782d10
the leach pottery but after many calls / emails I am still none the wiser.
Any suggestions will be followed up and I will report back.
I apologise if you have already seen this post on other sites.
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Post by Neil62 Thu Aug 25, 2022 10:57 pm

This is the second pot which you may have already seen again same marks L: with the Leach pottery mark.
L: mark, Leach St Ives Pottery  1d2f6410
L: mark, Leach St Ives Pottery  42376e10
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Post by NaomiM Thu Aug 25, 2022 11:07 pm



Last edited by NaomiM on Fri Aug 26, 2022 1:35 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by philpot Fri Aug 26, 2022 7:22 am

One out of left field suggestion. John Leach, the eldest of David Leach's sons. The L with the two dots looks somewhat like the Lowerdown mark used by David Leach. John Leach actually worked at the Leach St Ives pottery 1960-63 before setting up the famed Mulcheney pottery. So in fact he was an apprentice there. Which would give substance to the slightly studenty nature of the pieces.
           Pure conjecture of course.
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Post by NaomiM Fri Aug 26, 2022 1:37 pm

I think a family member is most likely. I can't imagine Bernard Leach allowing someone outside the family to use a stamp so like his own unless, maybe, it was a Hamada family member

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Post by Potty Fri Aug 26, 2022 5:29 pm

They look a lot more recent than 60's in my opinion, going by the style and glaze. But I know very little about Leach pottery, hopefully SP will take a look.

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Post by philpot Fri Aug 26, 2022 7:44 pm

That small Leach mark is one that tended to be used on the earlier work. I don't think that the Leach pottery mark shown here is one they have used in its modern incarnation.
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Post by Neil62 Sat Aug 27, 2022 11:08 am

I wasn’t sure whether this further information would assist or not but given that there is no current definitive answer I may as well add it. I have conversed with Mike Sanderson, Joanna Wason, John Bedding and Jeff Oestreich who between them said it wasn’t Janet Leach but the clay was similar to some that Janet gave to Jeff in the seventies. John Bedding said that he had seen the mark before but didn’t know who it was by.
One suggestion was that it could be Jeff Larkin who is in America would make sense that he couldn’t use JL but he hasn’t responded to my e mails. I took the pots to the current Leach potters as well but they couldn’t add to it. I also took it to David Kirk (auctioneer in Penzance) and a knowledgeable antique dealer in Marazion - no joy.
I will contact Jeremy Leach to see if he can assist.
The fact that John Bedding recognised the mark and that I know there are other pots out there which have the same mark is strange. Neither pot is standard ware and I take the point of the small Leach mark. I knew how many potters / apprentices there were at the Leach but I didn’t think it would be as difficult as it is proving to be. From my perspective, because the people I have asked can’t assist, I believe they are probably from the 50-60’s. Tenuous thought process though which wouldn’t stand scrutiny! One suggestion was that it was early JL and that she ceased to use it because it was so close to BL: unfortunately I feel the available enquiries left are becoming exhausted and we may never know!
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Post by philpot Sat Aug 27, 2022 11:52 am

Is a definitive list of ALL the potters who worked at Leach St Ives actually known with complete and utter certainty?
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Post by Neil62 Sat Aug 27, 2022 12:37 pm

The previous posts were interesting particularly from 2014!

This was from Jeff Oestreich to add


I feel these were made around the time I was working at the Leach (1969-1971. Up until this time they were not salt glazing. In the corner of the kiln room behind the climbing kiln there was the start of a salt kiln. The person that built it hadn’t finished it. Janet said if I finished it it could be my kiln. I was in love with salt at that time. I finished it, put a chimney up through the roof and fired it twice with not good results. I abandoned it. But the clay in your pots looks like the clay I mixed up that Janet gave me. For a second I thought the pitcher was one I made but no. It is very much like the standard ware pitchers we were making. They stopped making standwardware when Bernard died in 1979. My guess it was made between my time and 1979 by an apprentice there who wasn’t recorded in the Marion Whybrow The Leach Legacy book
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Post by NaomiM Sat Aug 27, 2022 2:18 pm

There is a Leach Pottery apprentice tree somewhere. I believe it was on Ceramike’s website but the old domain name has lapsed and I don’t know his current one.

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Post by Neil62 Sat Aug 27, 2022 2:28 pm

Hi Naomi,
Thanks for your input which is always helpful
I actually went to Mikes house and showed him the jug.
He was really helpful and made some suggestions which I followed up the Leach potters tree is on his website mikes pots which is exceptionally good!
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Post by NaomiM Sat Aug 27, 2022 2:37 pm

That’s the one. Cheers :)

https://www.mikespots.co.uk/LeachPottery/LeachTree.htm

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Post by studio-pots Sun Aug 28, 2022 10:52 pm

philpot wrote:Is a definitive list of ALL the potters who worked at Leach St Ives actually known with complete and utter certainty?

I am not aware of one.

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Post by studio-pots Sun Aug 28, 2022 11:03 pm

Neil62 wrote:I wasn’t sure whether this further information would assist or not but given that there is no current definitive answer I may as well add it. I have conversed with Mike Sanderson, Joanna Wason, John Bedding and Jeff Oestreich who between them said it wasn’t Janet Leach but the clay was similar to some that Janet gave to Jeff in the seventies. John Bedding said that he had seen the mark before but didn’t know who it was by.
One suggestion was that it could be Jeff Larkin who is in America would make sense that he couldn’t use JL but he hasn’t responded to my e mails. I took the pots to the current Leach potters as well but they couldn’t add to it. I also took it to David Kirk (auctioneer in Penzance) and a knowledgeable antique dealer in Marazion - no joy.
I will contact Jeremy Leach to see if he can assist.
The fact that John Bedding recognised the mark and that I know there are other pots out there which have the same mark is strange. Neither pot is standard ware and I take the point of the small Leach mark. I knew how many potters / apprentices there were at the Leach but I didn’t think it would be as difficult as it is proving to be. From my perspective, because the people I have asked can’t assist, I believe they are probably from the 50-60’s. Tenuous thought process though which wouldn’t stand scrutiny! One suggestion was that it was early JL and that she ceased to use it because it was so close to BL: unfortunately I feel the available enquiries left are becoming  exhausted and we may never know!

They're not by Janet Leach and from what has been said I think Jeff Larkin appears to be the strongest possibility. Have you tried getting in touch with him and his brother via the contact page of the Featherstone Pottery website?

I have had Leach pots in the past that I haven't been able to identify, as there is no definitive list of marks that individual potters used while working there.

P.S. Jeremy won't know anything.

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Post by Neil62 Sun Aug 28, 2022 11:28 pm

Yes I have e mailed Jeff on their website twice 2 weeks apart.
The automated response I got was that they would respond within 48 hours, but other than that nothing. Whilst I respect your opinion that Jeremy won’t know anything and you are probably correct it is an enquiry once done I can then eliminate it. It is a pity, and I don’t know if it was done or not, but when this mark first came to light in 2014 it is a pity that someone didn’t speak to Trevor Corser although he sadly passed the following year he was still working.
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Post by NaomiM Tue Aug 30, 2022 3:46 pm

The Leach St Ives Pottery stamp paired with this mystery L: stamp is fairly consistent and the potter is likely to have continued using it if they changed their mark.
So the question is, are there any Janet Leach pots that have a similar St Ives stamp? There is one possible contender on the Forum (photo below) - Edited to add a 2nd example.
So the other question is, how competent a potter was Janet Leach when she started potting at St Ives?, since the pots with this L: mark seem to be by an apprentice.
Another question is, would a trainee be allowed to use their own monogram? My understanding is they weren't allowed to during Bernard's time; not until they had reached a certain level of competency. IMO, Janet would be one of the few allowed to use her own monogram since who would dare argue with her?


L: mark, Leach St Ives Pottery  Janet_10 L: mark, Leach St Ives Pottery  Janet_10

L: mark, Leach St Ives Pottery  Lmark_10 L: mark, Leach St Ives Pottery  Lmark_11


Last edited by NaomiM on Tue Aug 30, 2022 5:38 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Neil62 Tue Aug 30, 2022 4:38 pm

For what my opinions worth Naomi that is pretty much as I thought!
It was partially bolstered by what Jeff Oestreich said about the clay he had been given by Janet being similar in nature but then Joanna sort of scuppered that thought.
I don’t know enough about Janet’s work to comment I have a few pieces by her but I can’t identify the dates they were produced so that’s not much use.
Fascinating and annoying at the same time, it’s a pity I can’t get a response from Jeff Larkin as he could have been of assistance.
Thanks for your time Naomi
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Post by NaomiM Tue Aug 30, 2022 5:31 pm

Joanna Wason was at St Ives from '88.
Janet Leach was at the pottery from 1956 and, from what I've seen, had changed her St Ives stamp at least a couple of times by the late 80s.
Joanna wrote a biography on Janet but, imo, it's not a question that would have occurred to her to investigate. And The Leach Pottery doesnt seem to keep an archive of it's potters marks

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Post by philpot Tue Aug 30, 2022 10:10 pm

I think that the early days of Janet Leach at the Leach pottery may will have somewhat turbulent. With David Leach leaving in the shadow of a family rumpus. and Michael leaving in 1955. It must have been a helluva job both being Both Bernard's younger new wife, and have an essential part in reorganising the pottery. In the two books about Janet Leach, those years were not covered in detail. BUT if this mark was an early one by Janet Leach, surely she would have kept some pieces as evidence of her first start at the pottery? To most of us in that position they would be an important reminder of that Time.
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Post by studio-pots Wed Aug 31, 2022 12:18 am

Neil62 wrote:For what my opinions worth Naomi that is pretty much as I thought!
It was partially bolstered by what Jeff Oestreich said about the clay he had been given by Janet being similar in nature but then Joanna sort of scuppered that thought.
I don’t know enough about Janet’s work to comment I have a few pieces by her but I can’t identify the dates they were produced so that’s not much use.
Fascinating and annoying at the same time, it’s a pity I can’t get a response from Jeff Larkin as he could have been of assistance.
Thanks for your time Naomi

The bottom line is that Jeff Oestreich was there at the time that these pieces are likely to have been made from all of the other evidence. Joanna Wason would have no more idea about that than you or I, as she was not there when these L: pieces were made, as Naomi says.

The real importance is that they are salt-glazed, which ties them down to a certain period in the 1970s.

Finally, regarding the St Ives seal that Janet used. She always made her pots away from others at the pottery and so would have her own St Ives seal. Therefore comparing her St Ives seal with that used by others to try and date a pot is a non-starter.

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Post by NaomiM Wed Aug 31, 2022 12:40 am

studio-pots wrote:

The real importance is that they are salt-glazed, which ties them down to a certain period in the 1970s.

Finally, regarding the St Ives seal that Janet used. She always made her pots away from others at the pottery and so would have her own St Ives seal. Therefore comparing her St Ives seal with that used by others to try and date a pot is a non-starter.


Which is why I think matching the St Ives stamp to a potter’s monogram stamp would help ID it

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Post by Potty Wed Aug 31, 2022 1:24 am

studio-pots wrote:
The real importance is that they are salt-glazed, which ties them down to a certain period in the 1970s.

This I why I wonder if they are later, do we know when they started doing it again?

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Post by philpot Wed Aug 31, 2022 8:57 am

The Emmanuel Cooper book says that Janet Leach's most successful salt glazing was for an exhibition held in Japan in 1982/83, The firing was in collaboration with expert salt glaze potter IAN GREGORY. A whole kiln full apparently. Could this possibly be a mark used by Ian Gregory?
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Post by studio-pots Fri Sep 02, 2022 8:58 pm

philpot wrote:         The Emmanuel Cooper book says that Janet Leach's most successful salt glazing was for an exhibition held in Japan in 1982/83,  The firing was in collaboration with expert salt glaze potter IAN GREGORY. A whole kiln full apparently.  Could this possibly be a mark used by Ian Gregory?

No.

I also think that firing may have done in Ian kiln in Dorset (I might be wrong but I seem to remember Ian mentioning it to me years ago). That was because the one that Janet had used for salt-glazing at the Leach Pottery was small from what it says in the Cooper book.


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