Blue and white Cornishware was first made by the T G Green pottery in Derbyshire. The distinctive banded blue and white look was created by decorating the pieces with blue slip and then turning them on a lathe to remove bands of blue, leaving the white underside. It was then sealed with a clear glaze to make it suitable to be used for kitchen utensils. The name Cornishware was chosen because it reminded someone of the Cornish seaside – that is the only connection it has with Cornwall and many people collecting blue and white Cornishware may not even be aware of this.
Blue and white Cornishware was first produced in the 1920s and has been a firm favourite ever since. In England there is hardly a house that doesn’t have a couple of pieces of Cornishware handed down by Mother or Grandmother and everyday items such as coffee mugs and milk jugs are now highly collectable and fetch high prices at auctions and antique fairs.
Although all Cornishware is highly collectable the pieces that command the highest prices are the named kitchenware like storage jars, containing the name of a particular ingredient, such as Coffee, Sugar or Salt. If you are thinking of collecting blue and white Cornishware you will easily come by storage jars for Sugar, Tea and Flour as these would have been used in any household. Less common lables such as Cloves, Mace or Bath Salts will attract a higher price as they are much more difficult to find. A large proportion of Cornishware was made to order and customers were able to ask for specific lables like Nuts or Brown Flour. If you want to become a serious collector of blue and white Cornishware it would be worth to chase down some of these.
Unfortunately the T G Green Pottery went into administration in 1965 and although subsequent owners have continued to produce Cornishware the later pieces are less attractive to the collectors for the simple reason that they are freely available. As time goes on these pieces may gain in value and in particular early pieces by Judith Onions, which were made in the late 1960s, may become future collectables. You can easily identify her work by the completely different backstamp which contains her name.
It is quite difficult to date original Cornishware because a number of different backstamps were used for overlapping periods. If you are interested in becoming a collector of blue and white Cornishware there is an excellent website which gives information about the different backstamps, it is called cornishware.biz. If you know your backstamps you should also be able to avoid fakes and, unfortunately, due to the popularity of blue and white Cornishware there are a number of fakes making the rounds on internet auctions and also at auction houses.
As a potential collector you should appreciate that blue and white Cornishware was made to be used as household crockery and for everyday use. It is therefore not easy to find perfect pieces and minor damage, such as chips, wear, cracks or crazing is not unusal. You need to examine a piece thoroughly for damage and also, if you are buying a jar with a lid make sure that the lid is the original and not a later replacement. Original pieces in perfect condition fetch the highest prices and, if you want to become a serious collector of blue and white Cornishware you should look for the rarest labels.