Collecting Deco Poole Pottery

While Poole pottery has embraced many styles, it is the dazzling bold shapes and hand-painted patterns of the 1920s and 1930s that really stand out.  The 1920s were a period of change for the arts in Europe and if you are collecting Poole pottery you really want to own at least one piece from this period.  This was the period of modernity that gave us the designs of Lalique and Corbusier and they would have exhibited at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes’ exhibition in Paris in 1925..  Poole won a Diploma of Honour here and it revolutionised their design.

They moved from simple floral spriggs and plain band patterns to abstracts featuring wheels, cogs and lightening flashes, which had most likely been inspired by the exhibition.  Poole were soon to exhibit regularly at the Mansard Gallery at Heals and at regular trade events at London’s Gieve Gallery.  This enhanced Poole’s profile, they acquired a reputation for quality and ‘on trend’ wares and ensured them regular press coverage.

While Poole got a lot of attention for their exhibition pieces they did not neglect their ‘bread and butter’ which consisted of mass produced biscuit barrels, preserve pots and bowls.  While these pieces would not have been as elaborately decorated they were still hand-thrown and hand-painted and were very popular across the country.  The first trade catalogue was issued in 1920, promising to produce unique handcrafted wares, thrown by the potter and hand-painted.

The company was managed by Cyril Carter who got together with Harold Stabler and John Adams and Harold and John’s wives Phoebe and Truda.  Phoebe Stabler was a sculptor, modeller and designer who had exhibited throughout Britain and a number of her designs were quickly produced  to exhibit at the British Industries Fair of 1921 where they were well received.  Truda, who had left her husband John Adams to marry Cyril Carter, became the most influential.  Although she was a very talented designer, she was never promoted like Clarice Cliff or Susie Cooper and there is very little mention of her in the trade press of the day.  Her work is some of the most dramatic featured on Poole pottery and she was hailed as a shining example of the new art form.

By the early 1930s over 30 female painters were skilfully transferring Truda’s flat designs onto the pottery, working in the round, they included Cissie Collett, Margaret Holder, Anne Hatchard and Ruth Pavely.  While many firms decorated on glaze, Poole decoration was applied in a Delft technique on to raw glaze, before firing.

Poole also worked with guest designers – Emma Manners’ ‘Grape’ and ‘Fuchsia’ patterns became two of the most popular produced by Poole and painter and graphic designer Oliver Bourne produced a series of  figural and portrait designs including a stylised woman holding a treat for a small bird, which is now known as ‘Sugar for the Birds’.  It was exhibited at the Leipzig International Exhibition of Industrial Art in 1927 and is still popular and sought after today.

If you want to collect Deco Poole Pottery from this period you should look out for the backstamp featuring the names ‘Carter, Stabler, Adams’ above ‘Poole England.  After 1925 the word ‘Ltd’ is included.  Other marks are hand painted with the pattern code written in letter format after a vertical line.  Keep an eye out for senior artists, such as Anne Hatchard, who used a stylised letter H and Ruth Pavely who used a stylised reversed swastika motif.

These days there seems to be more interest in in the post-war Poole pieces which means that Deco Poole pottery can be had for good prices and you should be able to get a dish or a small vase for as little as £10.  If you can afford to spend around £500 you will be able to buy one of the daring abstract designs with all the flair and drama of the Art Deco movement.  If you are interested in collecting Deco Poole pottery there are definitely bargains to be had.

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