Oak leaf design on Leach St Ives Standard ware, Bernard Leach? - discussion

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Post by Neil62 May 2nd 2023, 10:17 am

philpot wrote:Nice little bowl. Interesting for the decoration on Standard ware I would think. It just the internal decoration that is unusual. But then circa 1950 They had Both Michael and David Leach as well as Bernard and Bill Marshall working there. So there would probably have been a far greater latitude as to what personal touches they did to the standard ware pieces.
Hi Philpot,
The back of the catalogue explained that for a extra cost of between 10 shillings and £10 you could have a piece made by BL or DL BUT it would have their personal marks on which obviously these standardware decorated bowls don’t. 
Interestingly the Teaset priced at £10 had description of some decorated items amongst them and some not.
These related to the “leaf decorated” items.
Kind regards 
Neil62
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Post by philpot May 2nd 2023, 10:51 am

What you do see from this period circa 1950 is a green glazed items with Oak Leaf decoration. You see Ebay sellers claiming these pieces are by Bernard Leach. But I have never been too sure. In sale terms they do not seem to much in higher prices.
If you are thinking of Ebay, I would heavily emphasise the decoration, which is highly unusual.
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Post by Neil62 May 9th 2023, 10:04 pm

Good evening,
I’m not trying to be controversial but as I always say I want to learn.
I have bought and sold Bernard Leach pieces but after realising that it was easy to purchase both BL pieces and DL pieces which were inexpensive in the 60’s I would like to imply that BL used standard ware ‘blanks’ produced by apprentices as a canvas which he decorated and sold, quite properly as his own.
The standard ware 12 cm decorated bowls which have been discussed (like the cactus decoration) is a perfect example.
Clearly not by BL but with the dimensions of a standard ware decorated bowl in my opinion is the same as the pagoda decorated examples signed by BL and properly designed and offered for sale in the catalogue. For clarity there is nothing wrong with this practice but I believe the connection between master and student at least for the less individual pieces was a lot closer than has been suggested.
Open for discussion?
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Post by philpot May 9th 2023, 10:38 pm

It is generally agreed that a lot of the Bernard Leach's later work was probably thrown by Bill Marshall and decorated by Bernard Leach. Why would Bernard Leach use work by apprentices when Bill Marshall could make it?

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Post by NaomiM May 9th 2023, 10:41 pm

It’s well recorded that in his later years Bernard Leach was too infirm to throw the pots so he decorated them instead and put his mark on them. I don’t see anything wrong with that, especially where he was decorating standard ware developed by himself and his son David

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Post by Neil62 May 9th 2023, 10:58 pm

NaomiM wrote:It’s well recorded that in his later years Bernard Leach was too infirm to throw the pots so he decorated them instead and put his mark on them. I don’t see anything wrong with that, especially where he was decorating standard ware developed by himself and his son David

I think there is a misapprehension between us - I am not saying there is anything wrong in him decorating the bowls in a design which he created.
Far from it, nor am I suggesting that BM throwing pots for him was wrong.
BUT when catalogues state that it was possible to buy a piece created by BL or DL for between 10 shillings and £10 in the catalogues dated 1946 / 1952 we are not discussing the Taj Mahal we are discussing standard ware embellished by DL or BL.
Irrelevant who threw a pot with a diameter of 12 cms.
My opinion and as someone who has had a “standardware” decorated dish signed by BL and another one not signed but bearing the Leach mark which were in effect identical (other than the different decorations) it’s a logical conclusion!
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Post by Neil62 May 9th 2023, 11:06 pm

philpot wrote:It is generally agreed that a lot of the Bernard Leach's later work was probably thrown by Bill Marshall and decorated by Bernard Leach. Why would Bernard Leach use work by apprentices when Bill Marshall could make it?

         

Sorry Philpot - I’m well aware of BL struggling in later life as we all do but I’m speaking about 12 cm diameter bowls in 1946-1952.
I bought a bowl with the pagoda decoration signed by BL and another with a cactus decoration which just had the Leach mark and was discussed. I did that purely to compare the two.
The pagoda far better but in terms of form and function no difference - conclusion same Standard ware Pot different decorator.
I am not being critical I’m just weighing evidence and reaching an appropriate conclusion.
Welcome discussion
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Post by philpot May 10th 2023, 9:27 am

First thing to say is that we will never actually ever know for certain.
Bernard Leach regarded his workers as a cross between students and apprentices. So it is quite possible that he decorated quite a few pots to show them decorating techniques. It was a working messy environment, and things could be fluid one suspects.
The actual prices of course mean very little. In comparison terms you would have to multiply by a factor of 50 to get anything like the same cost today. Inflation being the bugbear.

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Post by Neil62 May 10th 2023, 9:51 am

philpot wrote:First thing to say is that we will never actually ever know for certain.
Bernard Leach regarded his workers as a cross between students and apprentices.  So it is quite possible that he decorated quite a few pots to show them decorating techniques. It was a working messy environment, and things could be fluid one suspects.
          The actual prices of course mean very little. In comparison terms you would have to multiply by a factor of 50 to get anything like the same cost today. Inflation being the bugbear.

         

Whilst I do not disagree with what you say Philpot I have to rely on the printed evidence of the standard ware catalogue which offers a piece of pottery personally signed by either BL or DL (before LD) for between 10 shillings & £10.
Also as far as I am concerned if it is signed by him then he decorated it that is the certainty.

I totally accept the prices are irrelevant but in my opinion it explains why there are pieces around of relatively speaking what amounts to a few brushstrokes signed by BL which without his mark would be unidentifiable (as far as the potter is concerned) other than it being Standard ware which as I think we can all agree should only bear the Leach pottery mark.
The bud vase I posted a few months ago being a prime example but others have passed through my hands including a pagoda painted onto what appears in the catalogue as a small decorated dish (To clarify I am not saying he did all the decorations on those pieces advertised as such but I am saying that he would, in my opinion decorate a piece of standard ware and charge the premium price detailed for it.
I recall a story (from here I think probably SP) about him visiting DL and wanting to purchase what would probably should be called Lowerdown standard ware - (Foxglove decoration) and DL saying that he had decorated the pot but hadn’t signed it and wished he had so he could charge more for it. Leach was a business both BL in St Ives and DL at Lowerdown and to me that makes total business sense.
Kind regards
Neil62
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Post by philpot May 10th 2023, 11:34 am

There is a standard auction attribution which describes actually this situation.
'Attributed to Bernard Leach'..... Which basically means this is the auctioneers judgement but the buyer got to decide for themselves.
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Post by Neil62 May 10th 2023, 11:52 am

philpot wrote:There is a standard auction attribution which describes actually this situation.
'Attributed to Bernard Leach'..... Which basically means this is the auctioneers judgement but   the buyer got to decide for themselves.  

Lost me there Philpot I think we are discussing two different issues - I’m well aware of an auctioneers attribution but if an auctioneer were to say attributed to BL and it had his mark on it then the auctioneer is clearly doubting the mark.
Attribution usually occurs on pottery which is not stamped or marked with a potters personal mark.
I’m not on about those I am speaking about pottery clearly and without doubt made at the Leach pottery in St Ives with a BL mark on it.

Sorry but I think we are at crossed purposes. I work on the adage that an original document created by BL & DL and used for their (Leach pottery) business is true - as the saying goes what can’t speak can’t lie!
Personally I wouldn’t purchase anything at auction or anywhere else with the ‘attributed to’ tag attached.


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Post by Neil62 May 10th 2023, 12:04 pm

philpot wrote:It is generally agreed that a lot of the Bernard Leach's later work was probably thrown by Bill Marshall and decorated by Bernard Leach. Why would Bernard Leach use work by apprentices when Bill Marshall could make it?

         

Just to clarify what I am trying to say here.
I entirely accept that BM threw pots for BL to decorate and I have seen and held more than one piece with that same acknowledgment on the base of the pieces but these were individual pieces and could never be seen as standard ware (in shape and dimensions) embellished / decorated by BL which is what I am describing.
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Post by philpot May 10th 2023, 12:22 pm

Basically Neil it is a debate impossible to resolve. Because all the main characters who could tell us anything are dead. I would not necessarily rely on the Leach catalogues as writ in stone. They were Mail Order selling catalogues and not much else.
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Post by Neil62 May 10th 2023, 12:49 pm

philpot wrote:Basically Neil it is a debate impossible to resolve. Because all the main characters who could tell us anything are dead. I would not necessarily rely on the Leach catalogues as writ in stone. They were Mail Order selling catalogues and not 

They seem very reliable to me!
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Post by philpot May 10th 2023, 12:57 pm

I have been collecting studio pottery for nigh on 30 years Neil. The argument you are advancing here is one that I have never heard from anyone before.
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Post by Neil62 May 10th 2023, 1:12 pm

philpot wrote:I have been collecting studio pottery for nigh on 30 years Neil. The argument you are advancing here is one that I have never heard from anyone before.

Doesn’t mean it’s wrong - the argument you have just advanced is that contemporaneous documents produced annually by a very successful business cannot be trusted - sorry but that is something for which there is nothing evidentially to rely upon other than your assertion!
The fact that the items depicted in those documents are still around today in the exact measurements and pattern action as described in those catalogues in my opinion is testament to the fact that not only were they accurate and reliable but they were also very truthful.
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Post by philpot May 10th 2023, 2:05 pm

Its an interesting debate Neil which you obviously feel very passionate about. But the only way to really test it, is the market. ie Leach Collectors. Why don't you put a piece this on Ebay and see how it sells?
As a footnote. I have a full Leach Tea set of this period circa 1950. Teapot, sugar, milk and water jug and six cups and saucers. All in the greenish glaze with the oak leaf decoration. I had never given one thought about them being made by Bernard. Perhaps I should!
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Post by Neil62 May 10th 2023, 2:49 pm

philpot wrote:Its an interesting debate Neil which you obviously feel very passionate about. But the only way to really test it, is the market. ie Leach Collectors. Why don't you put a piece this on Ebay and see how it sells?
          As a footnote. I have a full Leach Tea set of this period circa 1950. Teapot, sugar, milk and water jug and six cups and saucers. All in the greenish glaze with the oak leaf decoration. I had never given one thought about them being made by Bernard. Perhaps I should!

You seem to be arguing about the leaf decoration and somehow suggesting that I believe it is the equivalent of a BL signature. If you read my posts that is the opposite of my assertions - In fact my position is it is most definitely not by BL (The catalogue describes the items with decoration THEN adds that customers can purchase a piece individually signed by BL- I also have a full celadon tea service including all the items you name plus 6 x tea plates a slop bowl (same as the sugar bowl but no leaf decoration fortunately signed by BL, a pepper pot together with jam and mustard pots what relevance that has I’m not sure.
I can also say that there are only certain pieces in the set you name which have the oak leaf decoration and some haven’t - the catalogue identifies them.
Tea pot, jam pot, sugar bowl, tea plates.
The others are plain.
When you say a water jug I presume you mean a hot water lidded jug - that also is plain without decoration. The water jug without a lid was not part of the celadon tea service.
As for putting the items I’m debating about for sale on eBay I have done and sold them.
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Post by philpot May 10th 2023, 5:06 pm

You seem to be trying to drive a point home with a Sledge Hammer Neil.... Oak leaf design on Leach St Ives Standard ware, Bernard Leach? - discussion 1f604 Nuff said mefinks.
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Post by Neil62 May 10th 2023, 5:17 pm

philpot wrote:You seem to be trying to drive a point home with a Sledge Hammer Neil.... Oak leaf design on Leach St Ives Standard ware, Bernard Leach? - discussion 1f604 Nuff said mefinks.

Hi Philpot,

I don’t mean to but I accept I am passionate and believe in my research - I will never be able to catch up to many of you on here in terms of knowledge about collecting - but research and investigation is something I have done professionally and as an expert witness for over 40 years and as an expert I had to present cogent argument with evidence in court albeit some of it being evidence by way of my opinion.
People on this forum have helped and advised me and I try and reciprocate if I can contribute.
Much of the time I can’t!
Kind regards
Neil62


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Post by NaomiM May 10th 2023, 7:03 pm

Decoration is like handwriting, personal to each potter doing it. You can debate it as long as you like but until you've gathered the empirical evidence then it's simply conjecture. If you can get enough samples together of, eg, the oak leaf pattern - some that have BL's mark and some that don't - then you should be able to tell which (if any) of those that are not marked are by him as well.

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Post by Neil62 May 10th 2023, 7:19 pm

NaomiM wrote:Decoration is like handwriting, personal to each potter doing it. If you can get enough samples together of, eg, the oak leaf pattern - some that have BL's mark and some that don't - then you should be able to tell which (if any) of those that are not marked are by him as well.

Hi Naomi,

Thats the point the two don’t come together on the same piece.
My understanding is that there aren’t any pieces of standard ware with a BL mark and an Oak leaf decoration.
The whole point of the discussion surrounding the Oak leaf decoration being by BL was the reason that sellers have tried to intimate that the Oak leaf was Incised by BL because it allowed them to sell the the piece at a premium price despite it only being standard ware.
Sort of an alternative mark. That argument falls down when the leaf decorations are examined and it’s clear they are done by different potters.

If his mark had been on the piece together with the oak leaf there would never have been the urban myth that he decorated them all because his mark would have proved that he had decorated ….at least the one with his mark on it.
I think I have said the same thing three different ways so I apologise Naomi!


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Post by philpot May 11th 2023, 10:35 am

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

Don't know if I have posted this link before. Its a link to Mike's Pots run by Mike Sanderson. It is a very useful and fascinating and worth exploring as he hives a lot of info of Leach St Ives and other potters. The link is direct to the 1946 standard ware catalogue. You need to scroll down. He also has the 1952, and two 1970's catalogues on there.
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Post by 22 Crawford St. May 11th 2023, 10:41 am

I see there is a planning app in to develop the site

https://www.leachpottery.com/planning-application
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Post by Neil62 May 11th 2023, 10:46 am

philpot wrote:https://www.mikespots.co.uk/LeachPottery/OldStandardware.htm

Don't know if I have posted this link before. Its a link to  Mike's Pots run by Mike Sanderson. It is a very useful and fascinating and worth exploring as he hives a lot of info of Leach St Ives and other potters. The link is direct to the 1946 standard ware catalogue. You need to scroll down. He also has the 1952, and two 1970's catalogues on there.

Hi Philpot,

Thanks for that - I think it was a general post by you rather than for me.
I know Mike I’ve been to his home and seen his collection which is fantastic.
I only speak to him occasionally but he is very knowledgeable and helpful.
The most interesting parts (for me) on his website is the evolution of the “wave plate” or standard ware cake plate (3 sizes) from an original plate with a tree depicted by BL and also the family tree for the potters at Leach.
I have my own original catalogues for 46, 52 and 76.
Spot on though
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