I’ll try to answer the most common questions about Briglin Pottery. Please also see ‘Buying’ section for questions if you are looking for Briglin items to buy. There are many more articles in the resource section above and various discussion threads in the Briglin.com Forum. I now have some items for sale in the Saleroom
Why Collect Briglin Pottery?
Briglin is not exactly Sèvres or early Böttger porcelain, the quality can be a somewhat varied,but it is English and I find it to be very honest. I think they had a lot of fun making the pieces and a sense of humor is evident in some of the designs.
It is still possible to buy Briglin very cheaply and if you look it is available at car boot sales and junk shops. With Briglin you never know what you are going to find. Other potteries such as Aldermaston or Poole mainly had a fixed range of shapes and decoration. But with Briglin freedom was given to the potters to experiment and they seemed to have an infinite array of shapes and patterns. I still see pieces that I have never seen before. It is not all wonderful, far from it. I have seen some really nasty things that I would not use to prop the shed door open with! I hate the most popular pattern, Scroll – I think it dull and lifeless. I can’t see why Scroll was the most popular and long lasting design? Some of the shapes are poor at best, but in amongst all the mass production are some wares made with care and skill, some wonderful things.
Those that dismiss Briglin Pottery may not have seen some of the more carefully crafted items, or seen items gathered together when they look their best. Briglin is yet to find a broad appeal amongst collectors but I believe that the ever rising prices for other potteries and the availability of Briglin will cause demand for good pieces to rise.
Do They Still Make Briglin Pottery?
No, Briglin Pottery closed down in 1990 (see below). Anthea states in her book that in the mid Sixties they were using five tons of clay every two months. That is 30 tons of clay a year. There is a lot of it out there!
How Much Is My Briglin Worth?
At the peak Briglin were producing 1000 pieces a week! You are probably not going to get rich with Briglin. The truth is that the vast majority of Briglin items were mass produced (hand made). I have not seen any piece go for much more than £60 on ebay. More typical is £5 to £15 tops £30 or so for a nice large decorative vase. There is a huge amount of it out there. Seemingly everyone has a piece or two at the back of their kitchen cupboard. If you really want to know about your item then I would suggest you watch pieces being sold on ebay. Over a period of a few weeks you will be able to find out how much it is worth. ‘Worth’ is another odd question. Worth today? worth tomorrow? Worth to you? Worth to me? Worth on ebay? Worth in a shop? Generally on ebay people want a bargain so the sale price is not the sale price in a specialist shop. Items are only ‘worth’ what people are prepared to pay on that day, just because an item sold for X today, does not mean it will be the same tomorrow. Sadly I would value some items as worthless, which really means that there is no demand for them on ebay. If you tried to sell them online they are so common that they just don’t sell, no one wants to buy them.
I will put some prices below. Remember these numbers are just 2013 guide prices for sale on ebay to show you that items don’t go for £100s
Prices are for complete sets/items in perfect condition & including p&p.
Coffee Service Sunflower x15 piece £20-40
Tall Vases £15-45
Small Vases £5-25
x2 pedestal mugs £5?
To be honest if the items are nice then they are generally good value. I would consider it a buyers market at present. Sellers are plentiful and buyers are scarce. A handmade vase for £20, I doubt you would find a new handmade vase in John Lewis for that sort of money so why does one from 1970 cost so little?
You will see on Ebay items listed for high prices, often odds and ends of coffee sets; a milk jug or a sugar bowl for £15+£10 p&p, please don’t be fooled, they don’t sell. I highly recommend that you watch items on ebay to get a feel of current sale prices. A complete Briglin Pottery coffee set normally sells for approximately £20 – £40 inc p&p if complete and undamaged.
I should add that the prices above are Ebay prices. Ebay Buyers normally want a bargain. Expect to pay much more in general antique shops, and even more in specialist C20th shops. This extra price is justified as they have done the hard work of sourcing the item for you and this is what you are also paying for. They have to make a living. Alternatively you could sift through 200 stalls at you local car boot sale and not find anything.
Also I will add that I am still collecting and hope to add to my modest collection. If I were selling my collection I would probably promote higher prices! In any case I still think Briglin is good value at them moment. I would call it a buyers market at the moment.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly? Briglin Pottery
What is rare and what’s common? The most common item is the pedestal mug – in the swirl pattern. Sorry if you have some of these, but they are a cheap as chips! ….and worth even less. The Dougal dog money boxes are very common as are most of the cups and tea sets. Larger decorative plates and dishes are rare since Brigitte liked the aesthetic value and form of pots. Again the only real way to tell is to watch items being sold on ebay, after a few months you should have seen something similar. Most items go for their market value on ebay. Rarely have I seen items go for much less that i think they are worth. The market has been reasonable on ebay and if an item is good quality then you will get a reasonable price. Common items like single cups don’t sell well at all.
What Colours Did They Use?
70’s = Brown. Hands up here, guilty! If you like lots of colours then forget it. Ochers, blacks, white some muted colours, but don’t expect bright colours. Most of the Briglin items mix Brown, white and black. There are some coloured items out there, some blues, yellows and greens but they are less frequent.
Should I Use My Briglin?
Yes, you should use it. Briglin made domestic wares as was the fashion for Studio pottery in the middle of the C20th. It was made to be used. I use all my goblets for water and wine and the tankards for drinks. I use some of the dishes to keep things in, and I use the jars in the kitchen for spices. The Briglin coffee sets look great on display in your kitchen, but even better if you use them. Be careful but use and enjoy your items.
Don’t soak or put ceramic pieces in the dishwasher, as this can cause some pieces to absorb water that could result in damage, staining, or cause stress to the piece and damage. They will not take the high temperatures and rapid changes in temperature, often items will shatter in the dishwasher. Simple mild detergent and warm water will suffice.
What is Studio Pottery?
Studio pottery is the creation of ceramics usually by one person or small groups. It can be seen as a craft in which pieces are produced by skilled craftsmen through direct interaction with the clay. The fashion up to the later part of the C20th was to produce domestic wares that could be used. Pieces are made with care often with one potter involved in the whole process.
Ceramics and pottery are now general terms for wares or utensils or art pieces made with clay. Strictly speaking Pottery is anything that is thrown on a wheel hand built or sculpted. Ceramics are made with a mould. Clay slip is poured into a plaster mold, left for fifteen or twenty minutes, excess is poured out, then mold is set upside down and left for four hours or until piece can easily be lifted out without being distorted when mold is opened.
Who Made Briglin Pottery?
Unfortunately Briglin items are not signed. Other potteries such as Poole Pottery signed and stamped their pieces. This makes them much more desirable to collectors as you can collect either a known period or a known artist. There are many marks and clues to age and date for Briglin pieces but at the moment I can find little as to the name of the makers. A few specialist items can be attributed and on this site I have tried to pass on as much information as possible in the galleries.
If you have any more information about the potters who worked at Briglin I would really like to hear from you, as I would like to list them. There is the beginnings of a list of Briglin related persons, including potters in the Briglin.com forum, and for those who need it there is a separate thread where you can post Help? Is this Briglin?
Is All Briglin Pottery Earthenware?
No, not all. The vast majority of pieces will be the typical red clay earthenware (see below for definition of earthenware). However some of the early pieces were made with white clay and I believe that some of the later dishes were made of stoneware. AA in her book states “By the mid Sixties they were using nothing but red earthenware clay” (p38). So we can assume a cut off of white clay pieces of about 1965. Some items can also be porcelain such as the special edition figures, however this is a very limited number of items. See my Briglin Timeline article in the resource section
Different Types of Pottery
There are essentially three different kinds of pottery;
is one of the most commonly used ceramics. Earthenware is widely used for decorative and practical pieces such as plant pots. Earthenware ceramics often have a reddish brown, baked colour such as terracotta (which translates to baked Earth). This red tone is widely used as are white and buff varieties. The make up of earthenware tends to vary. It usually contains roughly equal parts of ball clay and kaolin with quantities of quartz and feldspar. Earthenware can be formed into a range of different consistencies. It can be made into thinner forms similar to bone china although it has a weaker, brittle form and is prone to chipping and surface damage. Earthenware is less durable than other forms of pottery such as stoneware. It is a cheaper form of pottery to produce and with a good glaze becomes waterproof, offering more durability. Earthenware is a clay that is kiln fired at low temperatures where it does not become vitreous.
Is a form of ceramic that is more durable than earthenware. The durability increases as the clay is fired at a higher temperature. Stoneware is worthy of its namesake as the durable finish is impervious to surface damage such as scrapes from metal blades. Stoneware has a more opaque appearance than other ceramics and is often available in murky gray brown tones due to impurities found in the clay used. Baking stoneware ceramics at too high a temperature can result in a warped finish. Depending on the firing temperature different effects can be achieved including translucent finishes. Different clays used to create ceramics contain different levels of impurities. Different agents added to natural clay may affect the colour and density. Clays used to create stoneware typically contain few of these impurities. Glazes can be applied before the second firing at an alternative temperature to create different effects.
Is one of the purest forms of ceramics. Porcelain is made from kaolin and was originally developed by ancient Chinese potters experimenting with adding additional materials to stoneware compositions. There are two main forms of porcelain. True porcelain has a smooth and translucent finish which is created by adding a kaolin paste to china clay. Soft porcelain is made by adding ground glass and white clay to china clay and then firing at a low temperature. Porcelain has mass appeal for domestic uses as it is traditionally white and can be moulded to create delicate pieces.
How Was Briglin Pottery Decorated?
Briglin Pottery is best known for it’s wax resist process and it’s scraffito decoration.
This is a waxy substance used to prevent slips or glazes from adhering onto the clay body or a prior coating of slip, etc. A resist is especially helpful in keeping glaze from adhering to a pot’s foot. This prevents the glaze sticking a piece to the shelf in the kiln. It means the potter can maintain a ‘crisp’ bottom to pieces which is typical of Briglin. Wax resist is also used in decoration, where it can be brushed onto the body to produce patterns that will resist the coloured glaze.
AA quotes in her book p.39 “She used a hot wax made with three medium-sized candles to a third of a pint of paraffin. The different ways of decorating with wax resist are too numerous to describe fully: there is wax on ‘raw’ and wax on bisque, wax on ‘raw’ and scraffitoed, then covered with an oxide on the banding wheel; there is painting the motif with wax on ‘raw’ then banding in the background; there is a combination of these two on ‘raw’ and a combination with further waxing on bisque. In fact every combination except wax on glaze.”
This is an extremely old technique in which a surface is scratched through to reveal a different colour or texture underneath. Many techniques were used to produce various effects using scraffito.
Here are some links to Youtube and several uploads by Simon Leach that can explain the techniques involved far better than I ever could;
- SIMON LEACH on Youtube