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Shelley Library

  Collecting Shelley Pottery      
    Title Collecting Shelley Pottery
    Author Robert Prestcott Walker
    Publisher Francis Joseph
      5 Southbrook Mews
SE12 8LG
United Kingdom
    Date March 2000
    ISBN 0-9676925-0-4

This 122 page book begins with a brief chronology and then gives an outline of the factory's history. It continues with chapters on the running of the business and the decline of the factory. The major part of the publication is taken up with colour pictures of the factory's production ranging from Intarsio pottery to nursery ware. The book's appeal is somewhat diminished by the reproduction of many of the photographs being reversed in the printing process. The chapters continue with a guide to the illustrations, a nursery ware guide, restoration, fakes and backstamps. The book concludes with a look at buying on the internet, a list of collectors clubs around the world and bibliography.

Book Review

Collecting Shelley Pottery - A Review by Paddy Owens
(This review first appeared in The Shelley Group Magazine, Issue 54, December 1999)

A new Shelley book-Collecting Shelley Pottery-arrived without much of a fanfare on the bookstalls in August. It is a very thorough book, and has obviously taken considerable time to prepare-see the comprehensive bibliography, so took me, at least, by surprise! I was wandering around a small fair, saw the one and only copy on a book stall, bought, read it that afternoon, and the next day took it to Wembley [antique fair]. There were no copies on sale there, so a small crowd of Shelley fans gathered in some excitement round my stall, peering over shoulders to see it.
Its author, as his advertisement at the back states, is a specialist decorative arts consultant, 1851 - present, and works as an author, lecturer and appraiser. And this indeed is the 'extra' that the book has. He brings his own knowledge of contemporaneous developments in other firms, and his interest in style and design, into his consideration of the Shelley output. This enable us to see Shelley as part of the continuing development of ceramics.
He has also had the boldness to estimate, in the mid-section of the book, in pounds [Sterling] and dollars [US] the prices of most of the items photographed. This is bound to be controversial. The photography of the Intarsio is excellent, the colours are good, but the photographs of tea ware do not often do justice to colour or pattern, and this is not helped by the negatives being printed back to front. [Many of you will realise the three misplaced ladies, pages 79-81 are in fact Carlton!].
The prices given are going to provoke quite a bit of discussion. To my mind the solid handle trios are under-priced, the Intarsio seems pretty fair, and the trios priced between £30 and £60 are sometimes well over and quite often under! And as for Mabel Lucie Attwell-I'm never able to estimate that for myself, it's risen so fast! So you will see dear reader, that you, with your own interests, are probably going to have as much fun as I've had pontificating on his estimates. But, for a fairly new collector, it is a reasonable stab at what he/she should expect to pay and this is a considerable achievement. Indeed this book is essentially 'user friendly'. It is small and light enough to carry around, the cover is pleasing, and I imagine stain and rain resistant, and there is a page at the back for you to jot down your own notes. It looks sturdy and the sections are clearly labelled.
In the first section the Chronology takes us from the 'Foley Potteries' in 1827 to the 1971 Doulton Group take-over of the Works. The next three chapters include all that we know from previous Shelley books about the development of the Shelley firm and gives us insight into the many external influences prevailing at the different periods. The mid-section has a glorious range of Shelley ware, such as is rarely seen these days. The last third of the book contains information on Restoration, Fakes, Backstamps and Shelley and the Internet. These are indeed nowadays 'need to know' topics! The advice and information given is thorough and sound. I'm glad to have some help given to me on the appearance and non-appearance of the Shelley ring-a puzzling phenomenon in tea ware!
On page 121 there is a list of Shelley groups world wide. The author is a self-confessed lapsed member of the UK Shelley Group. He acknowledges his debt to it: "Not to be forgotten is The Shelley Group who kept me informed for a number of years about various aspects of the Pottery. The open dissemination and discussion which is the policy of the Group has been of great benefit over the years."
It is a pity that there are some proof reading errors, and jelly mould collectors, parian ware collectors, miniature collectors and commemorative and advertising ware specialist are not catered for. Also the author, if he'd stayed a member, could have added value to the book from contact at our Shelley Weekend s with our expert and informed speakers! But any book goes out as a marker for what is known at the time it is written, viz. the out-of-date Godden's so many of us still use!
This book is very good value for money. It should increase the number of collectors and raise knowledge generally. Buy it for yourself and you'll have a tussle getting it back from friends who'll borrow it! One for the bookshelf.