What a charming design. This is “Whispering Grass”, by Jessie Tait for Midwinter in 1960.
It is a transfer printed design of the flowering whispering grass, hand coloured in lilac and yellow. As with all of Jessie Tait’s designs – beautifully drafted, detailed, and balanced – as well as sitting so well on the forms.
The hollow ware of all the series is in this very soft but vibrant lilac on the outside – a colour you rarely see on dinnerware. Whispering Grass seems to be quite a rare design, and hard to find now.
For the export market the lilac on the hollow ware was replaced with black instead – but I haven’t been able to locate any images of this variation.
Another of my Hornsea favourites from the 1970s is “Saffron” – which was produced from 1970, tailing off and ending by 1992.
Saffron was designed along with most of the designs from Hornsea during this period by John Clappison. It was produced in the same shapes as Heirloom and Bronte – and all of these designs were hugely successful. Again many of the canisters were printed with a label of the intended item, and all had wooden lids with a rubber seal.
The pattern and colour of Saffron work really well together…and like all John Clappison designs of this era were screen printed – which in part was because of the growing shortage of skilled pattern painters in this era.
The design has lovely circular flower motifs in a caramel-saffron colour contrasting with the burnt orange of the background. Combined these colours give an almost 3D effect. I also really like the interiors too with their luscious thick, soft cream colour.
Flatware for this series was a plain caramel colour, with concentric grooves around the rim.
Along with Heirloom and Bronte it was made in such huge quantities that it is still reasonably priced and fairly easily available, although the shapes which got more use (and hence broken) like Coffee Mugs, are always highly coveted.
I’m a big fan of the Hornsea teapots too, as they are the perfect size – not too big, not too small, and from this era by John Clappison have non-drip spouts.
You will find a variety of backstamps on Hornsea Saffron – depending on when it was produced.
Heirloom was Hornsea’s first complete range of tableware, and was designed by John Clappison in 1966 – in production from 1967-1987.
Its distinctive screen printed black pattern, along with the well designed forms, were so hugely successful that from 1968 the entire production at Hornsea was given over to it for a period.
Heirloom – as with other good designs – continues to be popular on the secondary market – now with a whole new generation discovering it.
The straight sided cylindrical shapes were designed to be stackable and were finished with polished wooden lids and airtight rubber seals. Many of the storage jars/canisters also had the name of the intended contents (flour, sugar etc.) moulded into them.
Items such as the straight sided bowls, egg cups, coffee cups and tea cups were also stackable.
The large rectangular handles on items such as the teapot and coffee pot were beautifully and ergononmically designed – as well as having non drip spout.
The plate-ware was left undecorated except for a series of concentric grooves around the rim.
The colour variations of Heirloom were “lakeland” (a dark moss green), Midnight blue, and Autumn brown. The blue was discontinued early in the production as it was not as popular at the time – however now it is highly sought after and collectable. The Autumn brown is the one I come across most often now here in Australia.
If you want a thorough and well researched history of Hornsea Pottery – I recommend locating a copy of the book “Hornsea Pottery 1949-1989” Brian Heckford & Brian Jakes (out of print, but still around in second hand book stores) ISBN 0 9526828 0 X.
Hornsea Heirloom – Autumn, Coffee Pot
Hornsea Heirloom – Autumn, Cup/Saucer