Articles At A Glance

Torqyay Pottery

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The Antique Detective: Chalkware Figures

Common Sense Antiques

The Larkin Idea

What Is It Worth?

Stuart Antique Show

Popular "Cottage" milk jug attributed to Watercombe Pottery. Devon Motto Ware. Motton back side.

Two handled vase in "Ladybird" pattern
made by Aller Vale Pottery. (rare)

"Kingfisher" pieces attributed to Longpark and Lemon & Crute Potteries.

Pair of "Applied Buterfly" vases by Torquay Pottery. 12" high.

News Article


By Gerry Kline

As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, March 2007

This is a follow-up article as a result of the interest shown in the article I wrote in the April 2006 issue of this publication. That issue contained the history and origin of the clay and the making of Torquay Pottery. Torquay Pottery was popular in the 20th century, and still attracting many collectors in the 21st century. Since the history was mentioned, I will briefly state that the pottery was made in the South Devon area of England beginning in 1869 from red clay found in the grounds there. It is no longer being made. For a while the pottery was neglected because it was common, everyday earthenware. Today it is very collectible!

Early potters not only made unglazed terra cotta busts of famous personages and vast numbers of miniature pieces, but decorative terra cotta pieces were also painted by artists employed by various Torquay potteries. In mid 1880's amateurs were able to purchase blanks too, to give vent to their own abilities. In fact I had a piece in my collection with 'Pearl Harbor' inscribed on it. Making identification difficult in some cases is the proliferation of markings by the different potteries and the fact that some pieces are unmarked. You do learn to identify most of the unmarked pieces. A larger percentage of the pottery is marked.

After forming basic shapes on the potter's (Jolly) wheel, workers allowed the clay to harden so each piece could be dipped into slip. The white clay was usually used when making Art pottery. The red clay was used for Devon Motto Ware, which was popular in the 30's. The usual type of decoration was a design painted on thick colored slip and dipped in a rich clear glaze. The motto was scratched in the surface so the red body showed. The fine red Devonshire earth has played an important part in history. The Cottage was the most popular pattern of all. The design is very soothing and warm, seeming to make a house a home. Many different mottoes were inscribed on these pieces, which were sold for 'souvenir' ware. The earliest Torquay mottowares have a charm of their own; each being hand decorated. No two hand decorated pieces are alike. It is remarkable that so many pieces have survived, as the terra cotta clay is so brittle. You drop the pottery it's gone! Factories invited visitors to suggest mottoes on their products. There were many different mottoes; sentimental, proverbial, humorous, Shakespearean, and biblical quotations. Perhaps, like my husband and myself, you will be captivated by its quaint rhymes or charming scenic decor.

A variety of wares were made for the market; plates, cups & saucers, teapots, butter dishes, biscuits barrels salt & pepper shakers, jam dishes and many other types of dinner ware. For the ladies, there were scent bottles, hatpin holders, powder boxes and ring holders. The men enjoyed their tobacco humidors, shaving mugs, inkwells, match strikers and the popular 'puzzle jugs'.

Commemorative Pottery was finished or decorated by hand with a special care befitting the occasion being celebrated. The 1902 Coronation of King Edward V 11 and Queen Alexandra saw the issue of some of the excellent examples of Aller Vale hand decorated slipware. Aller Vale Pottery is probably one of the most popular of the Torquay Potteries. Coronation commemoratives were issued by the Aller Vale Pottery in June 1911 - King George V and Queen Mary and by the Watcombe Pottery in 1937 for the Coronation of King George VI, I could go on and on -- The accompanying photos reveal some of the fine wares made by different pottery companies. There are three photos of' Art' pottery and three of 'Devon Motto Ware'. The colors are very warm and becoming to the eye. Each piece has its own personality. The flow of the brush was like music. I cannot describe in words all the different colors, patterns, designs, shapes and types. But the photos will tell you so much.

During the 20's and 30's, large orders were consigned annually to Palmers of Montreal and to Macys of New York. Special orders for overseas were not uncommon.

I want to make mention that in collecting Torquay Pottery, or any pottery you may find imperfections. Some of these defects could be in the making. Some could be from mishandling. It is wise not to buy pottery with severe damages. Damages such as glaze flakes, tiny chips and manufacturing defects are usually collectible. Everyone interprets words in their own way. A crack to one person could mean one thing and to you another. For instance; A hairline crack - a very tight crack, A glaze flake - a very small chip that has not removed any clay; this considered to be least serious of pot manufacturing defects. Age line - excuse for a crack; a crack that actually exists after manufacturing, where the line is visible from the inside and out. Chip - a defect where a piece of the finished pottery had been knocked off. I suppose there could be disputes to these definitions.

Torquay Pottery made its first (in color) appearance in a national magazine in the U.S., in 1986. At that time, Better Homes & Gardens Country Home Magazine sent their writers & photographer to our home in Maumee, Ohio. It was a most delightful experience! That article brought over 2,000 letters to me; it was a pleasure to answer each one. At that time my husband and I were No. American Coordinators for The Torquay Pottery Collector's Association, which resided in England. For seven and a half years, we acquired 200 members from U.S. & Canada to join that society. In 1990 we were co-founders of North American Torquay Society. The Society was formed to stimulate interest in the origin of the old S. Devon potteries. Today it is a thriving organization. July 2006, we attended their convention in Pennsylvania. The conventions are held annually in different areas of the U.S. I mention these two organizations in case any readers are interested in joining. If you would like an application form, please send a No. 10 SASE to Gerry Kline at 26485 Rampart Blvd., Unit E-8, Punta Gorda, FL 33983.

For prices and general information on the pottery and author, you may refer to Schroeder's Antique Price Guide.

For more information go to

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