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The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

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The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

Post  Ev on Sun 10 May - 16:39

This is to keep a record of researching the  multitude of Archives at the Portage Ceramic Trust Museum
The Museum opened on Saturday the 2nd May and can be visited by appointment from 10 to 2pm Monday to Thursday.
I had taken a week off work to do some serious research, but Sandra the Collections Manager was going to a Museum Conference in Dunedin from Wednesday to Friday, so I booked in Monday and Tuesday.
Monday was taken up just checking the Inventory File for the Archives.  
This had 111 pages and it was like reading an exciting story!
On Tuesday I chose File Box 36 Catalogues and File Box 38 Shapes.
File Box 36 had a 1988 Catalogue and Price List many times over.  I had purchased this very same Catalogue off Trade Me several years ago, but there were a couple of pages missing it seems which I was very happy to see.  There was also some pattern info including Imported dinnerware from China and photos of mug ranges.
File Box 38 was like finding gold.  There were so many shapes and diagrams and information mainly about the Ram Press.  I hadn't seen very many of these before.  My finger was so sore from taking photos by the end of that box.
It has taken the rest of the week to process all of the photos and there is so much info I don't know where to start, but I have found a few gems and identified a few shapes too.  No doubt I will get through it all one day.
There are around 143 shapes to be added in some form to the Galleries and a few have already been processed.  No sure when I will find the time .....?
One day of research equals days of downloading, naming, processing and cross checking.
Looking forward to going back, but it won't be this week unfortunately.
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Re: The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

Post  Ev on Thu 4 Jun - 9:03

I missed recording my second visit, but have heaps of shapes and patterns recorded to identify from that visit.
I went again on Tuesday and delved into the DS Files.
There were two boxes with several folders in each filled with cryptic info from 100's of patterns.
DS stands for Design Services and the Design Services were responsible for the engravings for each pattern. These were chrome plated and used to put the pattern onto the dinner ware. They show diagrams of where the pattern goes on the ware and each pattern has a DS number.
Many did not have the pattern name and were recorded using the DS number and I only recorded a few of these. Any that had the pattern name I recorded as each had a date and that would help to give many patterns a time frame. There are indexes that I recorded that have the DS number and the pattern name that should come in handy.
It was marvellous to find a photo album of patterns !!! Oh happy joy Very Happy
Some didn't have names recorded and some didn't have the numbers on them, but many did and I've spent several happy hours identifying patterns from this book!
There was also a Gibson & Paterson massive catalogue of which Crown Lynn was only a part of. There are several vitrifed patterns to be identified from this book, but I haven't got to that yet. The Australian company Bristile was a big supplier to Gibson and Paterson as were other companies for example Westminster. I checked out the Bristile numbers against the Crown Lynn Bristile numbers and they don't match. So the puzzle deepens.

There was a Grafton Catalogue with the most top class exquisite heavily gold encrusted dinner ware in it. Too delightful to describe and I was gobsmacked by it.

One of the joys of researching at the Portage Museum is getting to meet so many of the visitors that wander in and have worked at Crown Lynn and are full of hands on information. A wonderful distraction !!
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Re: The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

Post  Ev on Mon 28 Sep - 17:58

Todays trip to the Crown Lynn Museum was to visit Richard Quinn's file box in the archives.
I will add to this when I get more time as there was so much to take in. I'm more gutted than ever that I never got to meet him and chew the Crown Lynn fat with him as his enthusiasm for facts was enormous.
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Re: The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

Post  Ev on Thu 1 Oct - 9:33

The first folder had a list of pipes, artefacts etc that were donated to Richard by Ceramco.
Folder 2 & 3 I skipped over as they both related to the dispute and Ombudsman correspondence.
Folder 4 had many photos of what Richard had collected that were taken inside what is now the Museum and also the Gardner Ambrico kiln.  There was stuff everywhere and in a terrible state.  Crates and crates of crockery along with bits and pieces of machinery.  It would have been a huge job to sort that lot out as it was such a mess!!
Folder 5 contains an in depth proposal for a Crown Lynn book to be published in time for a major anniversary date which I didn't record, but if I remember correctly 1993.
He mentions that the interest in Crown Lynn is growing since it closed as 154 baby swans were now reaching $25 to $35 in Antique Shops and the large 170 swans were selling for $110 at auctions !!!  He mentions that he has access to Computer Discs and IBM or Compat is needed and he knows the password ....?
Folder 6 has three publications in it.  Briar Gardner, New Lynn Jubilee and an Oral History of Glen Eden.
Folder 7 is Research Notes and Writings.
There is a list of everything that was saved from the Crown Lynn site.
He noted that he had listed 2000 items that Crown Lynn made with first dates where possible and 800 Tableware Design names.
There are pages disputing Gail Henry's findings, but all have precise reasons and references. These have come about from his digging findings.  Lambert Primrose cup is not Ambrico.
He even had an argument with Tom Clark when he said that Briar was working at the site.  Tom grumpily asked him how he knew as that was a very long time ago and as far as he knew she never worked there.  Richard said it all showed up in the diggings.  
Tom Clark says first produced in 1937, but not domestic pottery and the first mug was made in 1939.
Theo Schoon's name keeps turning up and one note says: Percy's Dutch Artist mate Theo Schoon; John Yelich saw him decorating at CLP painting edge deco's.
John Perry has 49 Farmers Catalogues.
Waite says 'S' on Hand Potted base = Shufflebottom - No proof !!
Tony Carr says chap in Cuba St Wgtn has Hand Potted miniatures. Then added "How he know?" "True??"
There is a list of everyone that he has had contact with about Crown Lynn.
25% of ware made was drinking vessels.
He mentions a photo of an Achilles homer. [I've since read that this was a finger moulded model of the ship Achilles.]
Many other endless notes ....
Folder 8 is Brick Research
Folder 9 & 10 is Scrabbling in the dirt and On My Holidays ... and fings.
I didn't have time to look at either of these, so that will be what I look at on my next visit to the Museum.
Folder 11 contains 8 hand written pages titled Hand Potted dated 4/1/03.  I will come back and give an outline of his findings on this topic.


Last edited by Ev on Thu 8 Oct - 16:58; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

Post  teaandcoffee on Thu 1 Oct - 14:19

Great work Ev. This all sounds very interesting, especially the news that Theo Schoon was working as a decorator at Crown Lynn for a time. It adds another good detail. The challenge now will be to try to identify Schoon's touch in the very early stuff.

I have always thought of the trickle/triple glaze as falling onto two distinct categories - early Briar Gardiner type glazes and what became "standard repertoire" glazes - the rhubarb etc, for which incidentally I think the Crown Lynn glaze code number may have been 39.

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Re: The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

Post  Ev on Thu 1 Oct - 16:19

I was ever so excited by the Theo Schoon note and hope that there is more detail in Richard's writings that I have yet to read. I mentioned this to all and sundry and on social media saying that Percy may be Percy Golding. It didn't take long to hear that "Percy does not know of Theo Schoon doing designs with him, he did have a Bruce working with him for 9 months. He did say there was a Dutch man working in the modelling department" So the plot deepens ..... and I do enjoy a chase Wink

Interesting thoughts about the running glazes T&C. I do hope that I remember your words.
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Re: The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

Post  mike67 on Thu 1 Oct - 17:40

Ev, I was just reading your comment at the beginning of this topic that the Portage is open by appointment. Is this necessary for access to research only and that it can be visited without appointment to view only. I was intending to have a look next Monday or Tuesday? Couldnt quite tell from the website info.
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Hand Potted ........ written by Richard Quinn 4/1/03 [in brief]

Post  Ev on Thu 1 Oct - 17:51

1.  People talk of the Handpotted range, when there are at least three.  The most common are those turned on a lathe and referred to as the Shufflebottom pieces.  However I don't believe these to be the first range.
2. A range of brickyard bodied shapes which is made from a grogged body with a combed or raked surface by an odd cogwheel impression perhaps and finished in a clear glaze.  Henry show three on page 196.  It seems reasonable to say that this range was only produced in limited numbers and that the whole range probably only had 10 shapes in all.
I do not feel that her conclusions are correct saying that these were a response by Crown Lynn to the studio pottery popularity.
Reasons:
(a)  Studio pottery didn't grip the national consciousness until the 1960's and the latter part at that.
(b)  Henry lists the Tiki backstamp use from c.1950 - c.1955, though on page 228 she says that the Tiki with the word Handpotted was used from c.1948 to c.1950's.
(b1.)  It seems strange to me that the word Handpotted isn't used to compete with the Studio Pottery boom.
(c)  They have been made by a competent journeyman perhaps from Avondale College's pottery classes which the new school had as part of their foundation classes with the view of future employment at Ambrico.
(d)  Here is my educated guess at establishing where this range fits [and why] into the Handpotted story.

This was the first Handpotted ware made by Ambrico/Crown Lynn Potteries.  It was made by a competent but unexciting potter using a brickyard type body; possibly a body that they were familiar with from their school potting classes at Avondale College.

The ware was not stamped Handpotted as no rubber stamp existed with that word on it.  The ware was made before Shufflebottom and was a first tentative step at expanding Ambrico's range and produced in limited numbers for a short time.

Shufflebottom was only one of the potters in a handpotting unit set up in the late 1940's.

Based on my diggings and observations, here is a stab at making sense of the chronology and the backstamps.
(a)  I have dug both bisque and glazed Handpotted sherds, which mean that this range was not once fired.
(b)  The three bisqued Handpotted bases were only stamped when the glaze was applied.  
(c)  These three pieces were all dug from the same place and bear the numbers 3, 13 and 46.  From this is can be asserted that a high number of Handpotted were being made simultaneously.
(d)  Of the glazed vessels/sherds dug, some bore a number only and others had a letter and a number e.g.  C10, S6.  I have heard the letter refers to the maker of the pot and that S stands for Shufflebottom and if this is the case then he hardly made any as the prefix S is uncommon.
(e)  The Handpotted numbers in order easily reach 100 and I have since seen numbers over this.
(f)  Handpotters using guides can throw pots that are effectively identical to each other.  That these vessels all dug from the same deposit are not identical suggest that there were more than one person throwing them.

This is turning into a major effort, I need to take a break as this is only part way through page 5 of 8 !!

I will come back to this another day, as I'm having difficulty following Richard's writings.  It appears he doesn't agree with Gail Henry regarding dates for handpotted backstamps.  He admits that he doesn't know what the letters mean on the Handpotted ware and that there is a lot more research to be done by him and others.


Last edited by Ev on Tue 6 Oct - 5:51; edited 4 times in total
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Re: The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

Post  Ev on Thu 1 Oct - 17:56

mike67 wrote:Ev, I was just reading your comment at the beginning of this topic that the Portage is open by appointment. Is this necessary for access to research only and that it can be visited without appointment to view only. I was intending to have a look next Monday or Tuesday? Couldnt quite tell from the website info.

Mike that is a good question as now the Museum has a full time director and a part time Collections Manager.  Their opening hours are from 10am til 4pm from Monday to Friday and you don't need an appointment.  Although I always email to say I'm going as sometimes they have large groups that are visiting and as I'm researching the archives I prefer it to be quiet.  They are in the process of getting funding for more cabinets so that they can display more of the collection.  People visit all day long and want to chat about their Crown Lynn which is delightful.


Last edited by Ev on Fri 9 Oct - 17:57; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

Post  Ev on Fri 2 Oct - 17:58

Mike I just wanted to add that there isn't much on display at the Museum yet. There are three cabinets, some shelves, photos, shards and machinery. There are plans for more cabinets to display some of the 5000 odd pieces that are tucked away in state of the art museum cabinets. These shouldn't be very far away and I have been asked to take care of one of the new show cases, which I will be honoured to do. Thought I had better let you know as you will be travelling a long way.
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Re: The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

Post  TonyK on Sat 3 Oct - 3:40

Simon Manchester showed me his miniature pieces of hand potted in Wellington. I recall there being three of them about 100ml high. I assume they are now in the Te Papa collection. He suggested they were salesman samples. He had a small collection of Crown Lynn material but mostly I think because of the connections with studio pottery - Carpay/Smisek etc.

I think the computer discs Richard refers to are 57 5.25 inch floppy disks in a plastic disc storage box I have here - they're divided into categories Wordstar, Wages, Misc, Shops and New Discs. Some are labelled eg ImageTec Engineering for Crown Lynn Potteries; Chem Lab Backup; System Backup; Charter General Ledger Program files Disk 1 of 2; IBM-PC Supplemental Programs; Miscellaneous Dbase etc. Formatted IBM 10/8/84. By the time Richard gave them to me his description of them was "found in an office at the site - don't know what they are". I didn't know he had had a password that may be related to the discs I have - he may well have forgotten himself. The labels seem to me to suggest they're mostly system discs for accounts management. I have no way of reading them.


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Re: The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

Post  Ev on Sun 4 Oct - 15:44

Another note of Richard's says "Declined invite to exhibit my Briar Gardner/Ambrico pot at an exhibition at the Corban's Art Centre Henderson. (Waitakere City controlled)
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Re: The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

Post  teaandcoffee on Sun 4 Oct - 15:57

Tony - your disks sound like the sort of thing the Crown Lynn Museum might be able to do something with in the future.

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Re: The Portage Ceramic Trust Crown Lynn Archives

Post  mike67 on Sun 4 Oct - 21:12

Thanks Ev, we are in Auckland for a bit of R & R for a few more days so will probably go and have a look anyway. Op shops a bit more pricey than at home!
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