This beautifully graphic pattern consisting of bold geometric shapes is “Tivoli”, designed by Susan Williams-Ellis for Portmeirion in 1964. It was created on the striking “Serif” shape like many others by Ellis in the 1960s. The name “Tivoli” is a reference to the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, which inspired Ellis to create this pattern.
The design came in 2 colour schemes – chocolate brown and turquoise, and an olive green and turquoise. Originally the design was created in brighter colours – pink/blue and violet/grey/red – but Ellis was persuaded to go with the more subtle colour schemes.
Pictured is a storage jar from the series with its original lid – often now seen with cork lids.
Only in production for a few years as apparently it was not as successful as some of the other designs from Portmerion in the same era – although hard to see why!
Beswick pottery operated in the U.K. from 1892 until 1969 when it was sold to Doulton, and the factory was eventually closed in 2002. Beswick is mainly known for its high quality porcelain figurines and collectables such as the Beatrix Potter characters, Disney characters, Horses and other animals.
They produced also produced some fabulous vases in the Art Deco era c1920s and 1930s, in addition to the striking modernist pieces they produced in the 1950s and 1960s including some outstanding designs by Colin Melbourne.
Recently I came across the very impressive Art Deco era vase pictured below by Beswick. It’s quite a tall piece at around 23cm and with quite lovely colours typical of their output at the time. The sweeping angular handle, streamlined form and spout with its defined ridges are typical Art Deco elements, but also have a lot in common with the “Futurist” style of the early 20th Century.
Beswick Art Deco Era Vase
This charming and now very nostalgic looking design is Midwinter “Nurseryware” c1955. Its designer, the incomparable Jessie Tait.
The design is now incredibly rare, and pieces from the series pop up very rarely, but I was fortunate to find a few pieces from the series recently in an auction lot of pottery oddments.
While the shapes here probably do not represent the complete range of this transfer printed design on the “Fashion Shape” – you can get a good feel for the theme of the design. It is not known what other pieces there are with variations of this pattern, but Steven Jenkins in his authoritative book on Midwinter Pottery also mentions tankards with hand painted pink elephants holding each others tails as part of the range.
The design is so much of its time – with motifs designed to appeal to boys such as trains, Indian headdress, cricket bat, aeroplanes, spinning tops etc. One would assume that a pattern was also produced with motifs appealing to girls, as much as this one would appeal to boys at the time.
If you have, or know of any other pieces in this series, I would love to see them.
Midwinter Nurseryware 1950s Jessie Tait – Photo Ray Garrod
Midwinter Nurseryware 1950s Jessie Tait – Side Plate – Photo Ray Garrod
Midwinter Nurseryware 1950s Jessie Tait – Saucer – Photo Ray Garrod