Book Reviews

This page has reviews of pottery related books that are commonly available on the internet. Most of these can be purchased from but I would also recommend for searching for second hand books.This site used to be called and although it is Australian and set up to sell college text books it usually works well in searching UK sites for cheap second hand books, especially if you are looking for uncommon books. It may link you back to amazon if that turns out to be the cheapest option. Check the postage as sometimes it is excessive and by going to the referred site it’s possible to dramatically reduce costs.
I do not intend to review the normal bunch of pottery guides to the C20th but rather some of the more unusual books that I have come across… except for the first.



Briglin Pottery 1948-1990: The Story of a Studio Pottery in the West End of London

This book tells the story of Briglin Pottery and records it’s development over the next 40 odd years. The book was written by Anthea Arnold and published in 2002. The book is written really for Brigitte; Briglin is her story. If you want to collect Briglin pottery then get a copy of this book for reference, it will prove very useful. It has some wonderful pictures but still there seems to be a lot missing, it’s also as dry as dog biscuits in places.

By Anthea Arnold (Author)
Hardcover: 76 pages
Publisher: Briglin Books (26 April 2002)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0954192303
ISBN-13: 978-0954192303
Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 17.8 x 1.6 cm



The Arcanum: Extraordinary True Story of the Invention of European Porcelain

So pottery is not about kidnappings, imprisonment, the Philosophers Stone, castles, Kings and Princes….and a secret of a substance worth more than gold …wrong! It is! Or it was in a little town called Meissen in 1701. This is the amazing story of the invention or ‘discovery’ in Europe of the secret of porcelain. A secret already known to the Chinese. All the famous porcelain factories that started in the C18th, Chelsea, Derby, Worcester even Serves, they all in turn ‘obtained’ the secret from the famous Meissen factory. Read this book. It’s in paperback. You will not regret it.

By Janet Gleeson (Author)
Paperback: 283 pages
Publisher: Bantam Books; New edition edition (1 Jun 1999)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0553506927
ISBN-13: 978-0553506921
Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.6 x 2 cm



British Studio Ceramics: A History of British Studio Ceramics

An excellent history of the last 100 years of ceramics in Britain. Paul’s book is stuffed with beautiful large colour pictures of items by all the big names, from Leech and Cardew to St Ives & Camberwell, they are all there. It’s nice to see all these items, just a pity that none are accessible on the internet. There is only a small part about Briglin, but this is fair as Briglin was only a side branch in the history of C20th ceramics in Britain. This is a comprehensive guide to C20th ceramics, well worth a read – Big, colorful and interesting!

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: The Crowood Press Ltd (23 Sep 2002)
By Paul Rice (Author)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1861265298
ISBN-13: 978-1861265296
Product Dimensions: 28.2 x 21.3 x 2.5 cm



The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece

Nothing at all to do with ceramics. But a tale of an amazing find. The find of a lifetime. In the early 1990’s the ‘The Taking of Christ’ was uncovered after having become ‘lost’ for 200 years. The tale of it’s discovery and the vivid descriptions of Caravaggio’s life make a fascinating tale. Caravaggio was a ‘colourful’ artist who led a short but significant life. A good tale of hard work rewarded, almost. In the end someone else got there first.

By Jonathan Harr (Author)
Publisher: Random House (25 Oct 2005)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0375508015
ISBN-13: 978-0375508011
Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 3 cm



Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling : The Painting of the Sistine Chapel

Nothing at all to do with ceramics. Not what you might think and most of what you think you know about this great tale is not true. A story well worth telling like the other books listed here. I love the complaints of the priest who could not use the alter in the chapel because of the plaster dust, and the workmen who refused to stop when asked…. in 1508 they still had problems with the builders. Another great read.

By Ross King (Author)
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Pimlico; New edition edition (6 April 2006)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1844139328
ISBN-13: 978-1844139323
Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.6 cm



Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World

I know .. I digress . .. well it’s my website!

The siege of malta (AD 1565) between the Knights Hospitaller and the Turks (The Ottoman Empire) is not for the feint hearted. If you visit, it’s all still there! One of the greatest battles of the period but with absolutely no quarter given on either side…who won? Then the siege of Famagusta (Cyprus, AD 1571). They knew they had to surrender to the Turks when the city ate the last cat. The Mediterranean in the 16th Century was a tough place, a Very tough place. . I enjoyed this book immensely.

By Roger Crowley (Author)
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Faber and Faber (4 Jun 2009)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0571232310
ISBN-13: 978-0571232314
Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm



Dragon Sea: A True Tale of Treasure, Archeology, and Greed off the Coast of Vietnam

Another strange tale. It’s hard not to give the game away on this one but there was not much of this blue and white about, a few museums had the odd piece……untill one of the greatest hoards ever found …… “the extraordinary underworld of shipwrecks” focuses on the effort in the late 1990s to recover a hoard of precious 15th-century porcelain from the sunken Hoi An ship in the Dragon Sea, a stretch of “typhoon-torn” water off the coast of Vietnam. Recommended.

By Frank Pope(Author)
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (January 8, 2007)
Language English
ISBN-10:  0151012075
ISBN-13: 978-0151012077
Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.5 x 1.4 inches




British Studio Potter’s Marks – Eric Yates-Owen and Robert Fournier

700+ pages stuffed with little marks and squiggles reproduced in black and white. If you are looking for a thrilling read for the holiday in Marbella then this is not it. However if you have some unidentified ceramics that have a mark then this book is invaluable. I bought min through DealOZ for about £30. Shop around for a good price and consider buying the Second Edition second hand. Does what it says on the tin –   (Update 2014 July – thee are rumors of a third edition, but don’t hold your breath).

By Eric Yates-Owen and Robert Fournier
Hardcover: 720 pages
Publisher: A & C Black Publishers Ltd; 2Rev Ed edition (30 Jun 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0713672455
ISBN-13: 978-0713672459
Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16.3 x 4.8 cm




A Potter’s Life: The Island Potters of Poole –  Guy Sydenham

Review to follow.

Author: Guy Sydenham
Publication date: 10/05/1999
Publisher: Sansom & CoHardcover192 pages
ISBN: 1900178575 / 9781900178570




Potter’s Life II – Guy Sydenham, John Benfield

Review to follow.

Author: Guy Sydenham, John Benfield
Publication date: 11/10/2004
Publisher: MatadorHardcover164 pages
ISBN: 1904744540 / 9781904744542