Moorcroft Pottery was originally founded as a studio pottery by James Macintyre in 1897, as part of a large ceramic producing community in Stoke on Trent, UK.
The reputation of James Macintyre & Co. Moorcroft pottery was established quickly - Moorcroft Pottery wares were an immediate hit with customers, which caused tensions between the firm's young designer, William Moorcroft, whose fame grew, and the firm's founder, James Macintyre, who remained a relative unknown.
Designs came from 24 year old William Moorcroft, who personalised each piece of pottery the firm manufactured with his own artist's signature, motif or initials. This did little for James Mcintyre’s name and reputation, and in 1913 the inevitable split occurred.
William – the young upstart – led his workforce across Cobridge Park to a new factory in Sandbach Road. William's funding came from Liberty, the famous London department store, which focused specifically on hand-made, hand-decorated, artisanal works. Liberty continued to control Moorcroft financially until 1962.
In 1904, Moorcroft achieved a gold medal at the St Louis International Exhibition and followed up their win with further awards and accolades, culminating in the appointment of the Moorcroft company as Potter to HM The Queen in 1928.
Following William Moorcroft's death in 1945, his elder son, Walter, assumed management of the firm. In 1962, the Moorcroft family bought out Liberty, but Moorcroft's prosperous days were behind it.
Finally, in 1984, the family sold the bulk of their shares on the open market.
After several material shareholder changes in the mid-1980’s and early 1990’s, Moorcroft is now controlled by the Edwards family, and has been since 1993.
Over the past nine years the world profile of Moorcroft has grown internationally, both in quality and in perceived value. Auctioneers Christie’s hold a dedicated Moorcroft sale each year. The Victoria & Albert museum has joined many other national museums with significant pieces of Moorcroft pottery in their permanent collections.
In 1993, Rachel Bishop joined Moorcroft as only its fourth designer in almost a hundred years. Just 24 years old, she was soon to see sales of her work flourish. With that success came the Moorcroft centenary in 1997, and in the same year the Moorcroft Design Studio was formed, originally comprising no less than eight designers with Rachel at their head.
A brief and colourful interlude saw the arrival of Moorcroft Enamels in August 1998, a company which Moorcroft closed down in March 2006 as a result of clashes in design style.
Today, Moorcroft leads the world of art pottery with its own distinctive design style. With added value coming from the skills and craftsmanship of a dedicated workforce, Moorcroft is selling more of its magnificent ware all over the world today, than it did even in its previous heyday in the mid-1920’s.
Advice for new collectors
Read the history of Moorcroft pottery and decide which pieces you want to collect. For instance, William Moorcroft developed Florian Ware, which is done mostly in blue and white. You'll also find the Japanese phase of his work and there are the works by his son.
Bird, flower and wildlife motifs are hallmarks of Moorcroft pottery.
Look at the tube-lining method of design application, another Moorcroft pottery feature. This is a raised outline of liquid clay squeezed through a glass tube onto plain wares, it leaves a “risen” finish, with patterns standing out from the clay.
Research the pricing to collect Moorcroft pottery pieces. Expect to pay from $200 to $600 for those produced by the company now. You'll pay even more for pieces by William Moorcroft or his son. Unfortunately, those new to Moorcroft pottery have missed out on the period in which you could snap up pieces for insignificant sums. Moorcroft is highly collected today, and easily recognisable.
Find antique Moorcroft pottery pieces through online auction and antique sales websites.
Join the official Moorcroft Collectors Club. This gives you advance notice of online auctions from the company.
The main Moorcroft marks changed as William Moorcroft moved from Macintyre & Co, at the end of the 19th century and then when Walter Moorcroft took over from his father.
The Moorcroft marks remained steady until the modern owners instigated a system of dating and then again until modern Moorcroft design studio artists, where allowed to mark the Moorcroft pottery they personally designed or created.
Modern Moorcroft marks continue to become more elaborate and to provide more and more information.
Moorcroft collectors should be aware of the Silver Stripe that sometimes appears and is almost always through the WM monogram. The Moorcroft silver stripe denotes a second quality or imperfect piece that has failed to pass the strict quality control that Moorcroft demands. These pieces are only ever sold at discounted prices in the Moorcroft factory shop.
A fantastic Moorcroft mark resource: http://www.antique-marks.com/moorcroft-marks.html
An eight inch Moorcroft vase decorated with vines and grapes sold for $425 at Duane Merrill and Co. in January 2010.
A Moorcroft “Pomegranate” vase sold for $475 at Stephenson’s Auctions in September 2012.
A small Moorcroft vessel decorated with plums sold for $225 at Craftman Auctions in January 2004.
A green Moorcroft jardinière sold for $425 at Treadway Gallery in June 2005.
A Moorcroft “Eventide” tray sold for £820 at Potteries Specialist Auctions in April 2008.
A Moorcroft ruby-glaze slipcast vase sold for $375 at Fontaines Auction Gallery in September 2010.
A tall Moorcroft vase decorated with vines and grapes sold for $500 at Briggs Auction Inc. in March 2011.
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