Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature?

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Post by Bernado Duckworthy Wed Aug 02, 2023 3:51 am

I really Love this Charger, I'm open to the possibility of it being by Bernard Leach.
Any help in identification either way would be really appreciated.

I know it wouldn't be his usual style. Iv'e seen a few of his chargers with similar shape.
And I guess the 'Pilgrim' plates are a similar colourway.

It's mostly the signature which has intrigued me. Iv'e included 3 examples of B.L's painted mark for comparison.
My Charger:

Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Img_2015
Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Img_2013



I have a few other ideas and clues about it's potential as a B.L, but I'l wait to hear if my thoughts are echoed in the speculation before elaborating.

It took me a while to notice what I think, the scene is depicting. Please enjoy.

Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Img_2022
Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Img_2023

Edit: I should have perhaps downsized a few of the images, please bare with me. It's my first post.


Bernard Leach's painted marks for comparison -

Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Bernar14 Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Bernar13 Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Bernar15


Last edited by NaomiM on Fri Aug 04, 2023 6:15 pm; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : Reposting Bernard Leach marks as thumbnails for copyright reasons - Admin)
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Post by Silver Pete Wed Aug 02, 2023 6:10 am

Is there no impressed pottery mark? It's hard to judge a vague signature without a definite pottery to go on. Welcome to the forum!
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Post by philpot Wed Aug 02, 2023 7:43 am

What an absolutely fascinating piece. It has a clear St Ives mark so no quarrel there. Stoneware. How heavy is it? What size is it? How many BL signatures does it have?
Quite often with the BL signature alone. Bill Marshall made pieces and Bernard Leach decorated them, You see a lot of the lidded Honey/Marmalade Jars like this. This was generally the case when Bernard was getting much older and found it difficult to handle the heavy clay.
This is something completely different though. Fascinating. Is it deliberate decoration or a possible kiln failure? Given it looks a large significant piece, one suspects it might well have been made for an exhibition. Of which Bernard had many in London.
I cannot guess what it is meant to be. Go on ,,,tell us!
Super item!
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Post by Potty Wed Aug 02, 2023 7:52 am

The base looks wrong to me to be honest, but I'm no Leach expert.

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Post by potterymad62 Wed Aug 02, 2023 9:17 am

A lot of Leach pottery fakes were discovered in the 80's that were made in prisons, not saying this is fake but they are about.
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Post by philpot Wed Aug 02, 2023 9:34 am

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2008/may/02/art.ukcrime
There was this one as well. More recently. Provenance is everything of course.
I must admit to not seeing that unusual centre. There also seem to be several St Ives marks.Is that right? Which is unusual.
But....lets not be too cynical. Equally you can only tell so much from a photo.
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Post by NaomiM Wed Aug 02, 2023 12:26 pm

Not St Ives glaze colours, in my opinion. Probably a signature rather than a monogram across the base.
If it was Bernard Leach's monogram it would be smaller and accompanied by the St Ives stamp. You'd have difficulty convincing an Auction House like Maak it was by Bernard Leach unless you had a very good provenance like a bill of sale

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Post by Bernado Duckworthy Wed Aug 02, 2023 2:18 pm

Hi, I just wanted to say thanks for the replies. After years of contacting everyone but your selves for help, research become more of a chore.  Maybe it was getting closed down without explanation that was tiresome. So this type of open dialogue is very exciting, almost a relief. It feels like the fun has been breathed back in. So thank you and thanks for the nice welcome.  Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? 1f64f

It's the last time I say it, but it is literally the only forum Iv'e ever used, so forgive me for not replying to your comments, i'l likely make the place look a mess. So for now, i'l chuck all my thoughts in this paragraph and that should cover it.

So it is 32.5cm diameter. I purchased it from an antique centre. No provenence or clues to the maker.
I did love it straight away, wasn't until months afterwards noticing that it seemingly depicts a waterfall, or at least sunset and mountain scene. Don't know if anyone would agree?

Only after seeing other B.L painted marks that I considered that as a possibility. It occurred to me that the last character resmlbing a 'J' could be the lower half of the st.ives mark.

There is a vague indentation on the rim, which might be a glazed filled stamp..

But yes, it looks maybe too new and not in keeping with his other work.. maybe Philpots theory is a good one.
I don't see that anyone would fake such a rare obscure design, especialy with their own level of skill bother to be forgerer?

A tenuous link here,(unless it was produced by him lol) a B.L sketch entitled 'Waterfall between two hills' :

...

Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Img_2030
Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Img_2031


couple of other pics, sorry for any duplicates:

Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Img_2027
Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Img_2026

Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Img_2028
Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Img_2029

Thanks guys,


Last edited by Bernado Duckworthy on Wed Aug 02, 2023 10:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Bernado Duckworthy Wed Aug 02, 2023 2:23 pm

[quote="philpot"]What an absolutely fascinating piece. It has a clear  St Ives mark so no quarrel there.

Did you mean , the end 'j' looking charator? because good spot, that was my thoughts.


"Quite often with the BL signature alone. Bill Marshall made pieces and Bernard Leach decorated them."

This could make the piece, make more sense.
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Post by Bernado Duckworthy Wed Aug 02, 2023 2:25 pm

Potty wrote:The base looks wrong to me to be honest, but I'm no Leach expert.

A couple of auction houses have had the same opinion. I'l elaberate a bit later.
Iv'e found 1 or 2 similar exmaples but not this clean looking.


Last edited by Bernado Duckworthy on Wed Aug 02, 2023 2:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Bernado Duckworthy Wed Aug 02, 2023 2:31 pm

NaomiM wrote:Not St Ives glaze colours, in my opinion. Probably a signature rather than a monogram across the base.
If it was Bernard Leach's monogram it would be smaller and accompanied by the St Ives stamp. You'd have difficulty convincing an Auction House like Maak it was by Bernard Leach unless you had a very good provenance like a bill of sale  

Exactly right, Maak have said that they didn't think I was a  Bernard Leach, but I'd be welcome to bring it in for inspection.
It was a mixed message in some ways. I will elaborate on those emails a bit later.

I'm considering going to see them, but it's a 4 hour round trip for me

Example of quite a large Monogram..(and similar charger in some ways?) :


Last edited by NaomiM on Tue Aug 08, 2023 1:24 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : copyrighted images of Bernard Leach pottery deleted)
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Post by NaomiM Wed Aug 02, 2023 2:57 pm

Bernard Leach did sign some items without an accompanying St Ives stamp if he was potting away from home, eg, in Japan. The glaze, clay, form, and decoration are also important for attribution, not just the mark, and none of them on your plate tick any of the boxes for St Ives &/or Bernard Leach pottery. When there's an anomalous mark the rest of the boxes need to be ticked to be confident of an attribution

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Post by studio-pots Wed Aug 02, 2023 3:05 pm

Looking at the front of the charger, there is nothing about the glazes and the way that they are used that would make me think for one second that the charger was made at the Leach Pottery.

Looking at the foot ring; the unglazed centre of the reverse; the way the reverse is glazed, together with the throwing rings on the reverse would not make me think that for one second that this charger was thrown at the Leach Pottery.

Not everything that Bernard threw and decorated was done at the Leach Pottery but looking at the likely age of this item, everything from that period was. Even the ones, which have the Leach Pottery seal + Bernard's personal seal that Bernard never laid a finger on.

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Post by denbydump Wed Aug 02, 2023 3:17 pm

Sure I have a David Frith charger with a centre "button" like that.
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Post by philpot Wed Aug 02, 2023 4:56 pm

The John Bedding leach piece that I have has a similar raised piece in the centre of the base.
https://www.20thcenturyforum.com/t9954p475-the-leach-pottery-st-ives?highlight=bedding

In the late 70's with Bill Marshall having left in 1973, Bernard failing, and Janet not having her heart in it. The apprentices were often left to make their own stuff. I wonder if this is something like that? With a glazed filled mark.
Someone else at some time or another having added the BL script?
The auction houses which have handled most Leach pottery over the years are the one's in Penzance. David Lay in particular. Has this been shown any of them?
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Post by studio-pots Wed Aug 02, 2023 5:36 pm

philpot wrote:The John Bedding leach piece that I have has a similar raised piece in the centre of the base.
https://www.20thcenturyforum.com/t9954p475-the-leach-pottery-st-ives?highlight=bedding

In the late 70's with Bill Marshall having left in 1973, Bernard failing, and Janet not having her heart in it. The apprentices were often left to make their own stuff. I wonder if this is something like that? With a glazed filled mark.
          Someone else at some time or another having added the BL script?
          The auction houses which have handled most Leach pottery over the years are the one's in Penzance. David Lay in particular. Has this been shown  any of them?

Your John Bedding piece does have a raised centre but it's over-glazed and nothing else about the base is remotely similar to the charger being discussed.

Bill Marshall didn't leave the pottery until 1977.

I think that I am correct that there has been no suggestion that there is an impressed mark or signs of one under the glaze. If that is correct and nothing else about this charger suggests that it has been made at the Leach Pottery then it seems to me that the evidence is pretty conclusive.

I have had no dealings with the auction houses in Penzance but I would image that you are correct about their expertise, philpot, as over the years they will have handled pots made by most of the potters that worked at the pottery. They will also have acquire sale items from local reliable sources too.

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Post by NaomiM Wed Aug 02, 2023 6:14 pm

It reminds me of pottery made by John Rivers and other potters based in the Cumbrian-Yorkshire-Derbyshire area. Stoneware with nice freehand tenmoku and nuka glazes resulting in a mountains n' rivers style decor

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Post by Bernado Duckworthy Wed Aug 02, 2023 6:48 pm

philpot wrote:The John Bedding leach piece that I have has a similar raised piece in the centre of the base.
https://www.20thcenturyforum.com/t9954p475-the-leach-pottery-st-ives?highlight=bedding

In the late 70's with Bill Marshall having left in 1973, Bernard failing, and Janet not having her heart in it. The apprentices were often left to make their own stuff. I wonder if this is something like that? With a glazed filled mark.
          Someone else at some time or another having added the BL script?
          The auction houses which have handled most Leach pottery over the years are the one's in Penzance. David Lay in particular. Has this been shown  any of them?

Interesting, you've prompted me to first explore the Bill Marshall route, so have been looking for a similar raised centres before considering other theories. But perhaps to no avail thus far.


The only Auctions i've enquired has been Maak and Roseberys. So no, not to David Lay so perhaps I'l see what they think. Thank you.


Last edited by NaomiM on Tue Aug 08, 2023 1:25 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : copyrighted images of Bill Marshall pottery deleted)
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Post by Bernado Duckworthy Wed Aug 02, 2023 6:49 pm

denbydump wrote:Sure I have a David Frith charger with a centre "button" like that.

Roseberys auction suggested in looks like a David Frith.
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Post by Bernado Duckworthy Wed Aug 02, 2023 6:53 pm

NaomiM wrote:It reminds me of pottery made by John Rivers and other potters based in the Cumbrian-Yorkshire-Derbyshire area. Stoneware with nice freehand tenmoku and nuka glazes resulting in a mountains n' rivers style decor

Nice comparison, they've produced some lovey, interesting and colourful tenmoku glazes.
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Post by Bernado Duckworthy Wed Aug 02, 2023 8:50 pm

NaomiM wrote:Bernard Leach did sign some items without an accompanying St Ives stamp if he was potting away from home, eg, in Japan. The glaze, clay, form, and decoration are also important for attribution, not just the mark, and none of them on your plate tick any of the boxes for St Ives &/or Bernard Leach pottery. When there's an anomalous mark the rest of the boxes need to be ticked to be confident of an attribution

Thanks. I understand that, and that's why I'm here discussing who possibly could have made it.
So your certain B.L wouldn't have used, or wasn't known to use that clay.
The form I agree doesn't really fit.
Decoration is not really anything seen.
So thats 3 down,

what about the glaze, is that a right off also?

I thought it was similar to the tenmoku seen in this dish:



Despite positive attribution being illusive, I still find it an enigma worth researching and still in and around a Bernard Leach connection..due to the B.L monogram.


Last edited by NaomiM on Tue Aug 08, 2023 1:25 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : copyrighted images of Bernard Leach pottery deleted)
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Post by Potty Wed Aug 02, 2023 8:59 pm

Bernado Duckworthy wrote:
philpot wrote:The John Bedding leach piece that I have has a similar raised piece in the centre of the base.
https://www.20thcenturyforum.com/t9954p475-the-leach-pottery-st-ives?highlight=bedding

In the late 70's with Bill Marshall having left in 1973, Bernard failing, and Janet not having her heart in it. The apprentices were often left to make their own stuff. I wonder if this is something like that? With a glazed filled mark.
          Someone else at some time or another having added the BL script?
          The auction houses which have handled most Leach pottery over the years are the one's in Penzance. David Lay in particular. Has this been shown  any of them?

Interesting, you've prompted me to first explore the Bill Marshall route, so have been looking for a similar raised centres before considering other theories. But perhaps to no avail thus far.



The only Auctions i've enquired has been Maak and Roseberys. So no, not to David Lay so perhaps I'l see what they think. Thank you.

It may be somewhat nuanced, but the differences are there, the examples you posted are exactly as I would expect for Bill's work.


Last edited by NaomiM on Tue Aug 08, 2023 1:25 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : copyrighted images deleted)

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Post by denbydump Wed Aug 02, 2023 10:00 pm

studio-pots wrote:
Looking at the foot ring; the unglazed centre of the reverse; the way the reverse is glazed, together with the throwing rings on the reverse would not make me think that for one second that this charger was thrown at the Leach Pottery.

Yes, how many potteries applied decorative glazes within the foot-rim, which normally wouldn't be seen?
Dartington certainly springs to mind.

Anyway had a go at removing some "noise" from around the mark. The orange glaze on the left has picked out some of the ridges on
the the throwing/turning rings. So just tried to leave what seems to be the deliberate marks as opposed to decorative "overrun".

Tenmoku Charger with BL mark? Or signature? Img_2051
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Post by Bernado Duckworthy Wed Aug 02, 2023 10:34 pm


"It may be somewhat nuanced, but the differences are there, the examples you posted are exactly as I would expect for Bill's work."

I see, it rules out Philpot's sugeestion then, the off chance part of the Bill/Bernard colaberation.
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Post by Potty Wed Aug 02, 2023 10:56 pm

Bernado Duckworthy wrote:
"It may be somewhat nuanced, but the differences are there, the examples you posted are exactly as I would expect for Bill's work."

I see, it rules out Philpot's sugeestion then, the off chance part of the Bill/Bernard colaberation.

Bill threw a lot of Bernard's pots, so it's kind of a given when looking at BL pots that the throwing will look like Bill's.

But yeah, even with the bit in the middle, it's quite different to the way either of them would have done, in my opinion anyway.

The Dartington suggestion sounds possible to me.

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