Bringing my love of the crocus flower into my home was made easy when I began stumbling upon earthenware and chinaware decorated with all sorts of different renditions of crocuses.
The Antique Market always holds a surprise or two, and reawakens in me that childhood longing to explore the attic or the shed out back, to enjoy again the wonders of treasure-hunting among the forgotten and abandoned housewares of yesteryear. Finding items here, both old and new, that are reminiscent of my crocuses, was a delightful reward.
Another place to watch for interesting items is the Miscellany Thrift Store, located at 1029 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC. The store may have some vintage pieces on display, and shopping there supports worthy charitable causes, too. The Miscellany Finds website describes their organization as “a social enterprise that operates a thriving East Vancouver thrift store and a variety of social programs for women and youth. Our programs empower women and youth who are considered ‘hard to place’ in the work force. We’ve helped hundreds of marginalized women and youth transition back into society.” My heart skipped with pleasure when I spotted this vintage vase there. When I look upon the flowers painted on this vase, I feel like I am gazing into the floral heart of my crocuses. I was told that the vase was likely created in the 1960’s or ’70’s, but I have no information about it other than the signature of the potter on its base. If you have any idea about whom the potter might be that signed this vase, kindly contact me by leaving a comment on this post.
Clarice Cliff was a British potter of unique talents, and her bright, colourful designs capture my imagination and intrigue me. I find her pieces cheerful and stimulating; daring, lively and bold at times, even playful and whimsical. Other Clarice Cliff designs offer more serene decorative touches, applying a simpler colour palette. Clarice Cliff is perhaps the most well-known artist to feature the crocus flower in her pottery designs. Her ceramics are coveted by collectors worldwide. A large number of women were employed to paint the crockery with her designs and patterns, and one such group of painters were affectionately labeled “the Bizarre Girls”, and their work was eventually known as “the Bizarre Collection”. Wedgwood purchased the Clarice Cliff name, and there is a museum that exhibits her work. The official Clarice Cliff website provides this information:
Clarice Cliff is, today, regarded as one of the most influential ceramics artists of the 20th Century and her work is collected, valued and admired the world over. She was born on January 20th 1899 in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent and started work at the age of 13 in ‘The Potteries’. Clarice moved to the AJ Wilkinson’s pottery factory in 1916. She was ambitious and her skills were recognised so that eventually she was given her own studio. It was here that she starting creating her own patterns and the famous ‘Bizarre’ wares were launched in 1927. In 1928 Clarice created a pattern of Crocus flowers made from individual brushstrokes, completely hand-painted in bright colours. Orders came in thick and fast and in 1930 a separate decorating department was set up to meet demand. The vast majority of Clarice’s ‘Art Deco’ output was between 1927 and 1936. These years are commonly known, by collectors, as The ‘Bizarre’ years. After ‘Bizarre’ Clarice continued to produce many wares in her own unique style and to suit the current tastes of the nation and the various worldwide export markets. (See http://claricecliff.com/home for more information.)
Banana Dance Ltd. is a company owned and operated by Jonathan Daltrey and Alan Brooks, “long established dealers in Clarice Cliff, Art Deco ceramics and general antiques.” Their shop is located at the Northcote Road Antiques Market, 155A Northcote Road, Battersea, London, SW11 6QB. Their website shares some interesting stories about the production of Clarice Cliff pottery, including a photograph of Jonathan sitting in Clarice Cliff’s car and personally meeting a “crocus girl”, who describes painting many crocuses upside down, which was the method used by the painters. Visit the Banana Dance website to see a wonderful display of Clarice Cliff pottery on exhibit, including this spectacular item:
Bonhams Auction House recently sold these pieces of Clarice Cliff’s “Autumn Crocus pattern china including: a Bonjour shape teapot and cover, damages, sugar bowl, milk jug, preserves pot and cover, three egg cups, coronet shape milk jug, a single cup and two saucers, four side plates, bread and butter plate, a muffineer and a two piece cruet. Sold for £1,000 (CA$ 1,825).” Bonham’s website says, “Bonhams is a privately owned British auction house. Founded in 1793, it is one of the world’s oldest and largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. Now, the Bonhams name is recognised internationally throughout all sectors of fine art, jewellery, motorcars and collectors’ markets.” It has many locations scattered across every continent of the world, so such items as these Clarice Cliff pieces can be purchased from anywhere.
The French-Saxon China Company of Sebring, Ohio, also created a crocus pattern for one of its pottery designs. This USA-based product has an interesting manufacturing history.
The company was formerly called Saxon China, founded in 1911. It made semi-porcelain china. In 1916, the company became part of the Sebring Manufacturing Company along with Strong Manufacturing, French China and Saxon China. All 3 plants retained their individual names. The Sebring Manufacturing Corp. joined the American Chinaware Corp. in 1929, to try to avert the Great Depression. The American Chinaware Corp. failed in 1931, and both French China and Saxon China were gone by 1932. The Saxon plant was purchased from Oliver H. Sebring in 1934 by W. Vern Oliver for $1,000. He then combined the failed French and Saxon China companies, and renamed it the French Saxon pottery. The buildings were greatly updated. By 1949, it employed 380 people to make dinnerware. He purchased Royal China, the company of “Queen Bee” Bea Miller on April 4, 1964. Later, the company made semi-vitreous ironstone dinnerware, then started production of fine china in November 1964, with sixteen employees. At its peak, it could produce 600 dozen pieces of ware per hour. (Adapted from the website of the Sebring Ohio Historical Society.)
Here is a simple and elegant French Saxon platter featuring the crocus pattern, available for purchase on the Terapeak website:
Other finds re re pinterest and the