Inspiration from across the pond: Midwinter potteries classic ’50s designs

I had always thought of Midwinter potteries as a mid-twentieth century company because of the china that they are best known for.  However, the Midwinter Pottery was started way back in 1910 in Burslem by William Robinson Midwinter.  From reading about their early wares it sounds like they were similar to other potteries of the time with references to traditional country scenes and different types of flowers.

A photo of a Midwinter potteries Porcelon sweets trayThis handled candy / sweet dish is a Midwinter piece, which has the trade name ‘Porcelon’. It was introduced from the 1930s to around 1953. I don’t know whether it’s typical of their earlier designs but from a quick online search, I found a few other pieces from the early 1940s, which are similar in style, that is, a gold and white patterned background with country cottages and crinoline ladies in the foreground.

A photo of a Midwinter potteries Porcelon sweets tray A photo of a Midwinter potteries Porcelon sweets trayHowever, it was from the 1950s onwards that the company became known for design innovation.  In the late 1940s, William’s son, Roy, joined the business.  Even during these early years, Roy started experimenting by allowing their designers to create free hand designs on the china, intriguingly using coloured crayons.  Then in the 1950s after he had taken control of the company, he went to the US to show some new designs to a group of influential buyers.  They dismissed his designs as being too traditional and suggested that he study the work of influential designers working in the west coast of the US such as Eva Zeisel and Raymond Loewy.  He followed their advice and on his return collaborated with the UK designer Jessie Tait to create some of their most popular patterns ever.

A photo of a vintage Midwinter potteries Stylescraft cake standOne of these patterns was Stylecraft, launched in 1953. I’ve bought a few pieces of the Stylecraft Fashion Shape pieces.  This one tier cake stand is an original 1950s cake stand (that is, I didn’t drill a hole in the plate!) with the 1950s handle.

A photo of a vintage Midwinter potteries Stylescraft cake stand A photo of a vintage Midwinter potteries Stylescraft cake standThe shape of the snack dish I bought a while ago, which is also a Stylecraft design, is refreshingly modern even sixty years after it was designed.  I think its simple design would go well with today’s contemporary pieces.

A photo of a vintage Midwinter potteries snack plate A photo of a vintage Midwinter potteries snack plateThe newly fashionable Midwinter collaborated with well-known ceramicists and designers over the years including Terence Conran and Hugh Casson.  However, like many potteries before them, they were taken over by larger companies, first J & G Meakin Ltd in 1968, which itself was taken over by the Wedgwood Group in 1970 with the final pieces of Midwinter china rolling off the production line in 1987.

Rach x

p.s. I also just found some pictures of some lovely Midwinter egg cups with matching stand, which I had forgotten I’d taken!

A photo of some vintage Midwinter china egg cups and holder A photo of vintage Midwinter china egg cups and holder

References: Some information from this post was gathered from Starting to Collect 20th Century Ceramics by Andrew Casey (2007).

Advertisements

Add any thoughts, comments or questions here...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s