We made the trip to Lincoln Antiques and Home Fair on Monday. Our alarm was set for 5.30am, so it was quite an early start in the cold and the dark. Add in a few hours driving and you have to hope that the effort will be worthwhile.
Fortunately it was - and we picked up some very nice pieces - some favourites are shown here. It’s mainly vintage, mid 20th century stuff; but we couldn’t resist a couple of country antiques too, such as this beautiful 18th century bowl and bread/pie oven peel.
We bought quite a few West German ‘fat lava’ pots, concentrating on bold reds & oranges. Their prices are certainly on the rise. Other ceramics included the wall plaques designed by Bjorn Wiinblad for Nymolle of Denmark. Each one represents a month of the year and features a loving couple’s story - from courtship to parenthood. We like the whimsical, folk art design and we’ve actually got a set on our kitchen wall.
A slightly more recent piece of wood was to be found in the shape of this 1950s/60s teak coaster set. We’re not sure who the maker is, but it’s got real quality to it - it’s very Scandinavian and has a gorgeous, warm colour. There was no shortage of enamelware to be found - we plumped for this set of graduated blue kitchen pots - the largest has an impressive 18 litre capacity!
The sewing box dates from the 1960s and is made of a plastic weave material. Some people call in Dandycord - which we think was a trade name or brand of PVC flooring. The same material was used in the manufacture of these sewing boxes. You also see chairs, plant pot holders, magazine racks etc from the same period made from it. We were given a real flash of flower power colour when we lifted the lid! Equally bold & bright were the lovely little teatowel and this absolutely stunning roll of unused 1950s fabric, with it’s classic vase design & period colour combination of yellow, red, grey, black & blue.
It’s always tempting to stay in a warm bed, but we’re glad that we didn’t when we look back at this haul!
This edition of Friday Folks features Kevin Graham. We came across him online a few years ago when we were trying to find more details about some of the ceramic items that we’d been accumulating for our shop. Kevin is one of the founding members & admins of the online Pottery and Glass Forum - a group full of very friendly & extremely knowledgeable people from all around the world. You can also find him endeavouring to spread the Fat Lava love around the virtual world via Twitter and Flickr
Who are you & what do you do?
I am Kevin James Graham. I am a researcher & Author on factual books on West/East German pottery. To date I have written Spritzdecor to Fat Lava (hardback), and West & East German Pottery Marks & Form Numbers (hardback). Both limited edition books which came out in July 2009 with only 250 copies of each.
Since the publication of these two hardcover books, I switched to CD as a medium and introduced Spritzdecor to Fat Lava Book/CD and West & East German Pottery, Marks & Form numbers Volume II (which contained over 3500 more numbers than the original book). These came out in January 2010.
In November 2010 I released Spritzdecor to Fat Lava II on CD which contained 32 more companies than the original hardback book & CD, and an additional number of designer profiles bringing the total to 48. At the same time, I released the greatly updated West & East German Pottery, Marks, Form Numbers & Decors Volume III which contained over 2800 new form numbers, including a huge section on Art Deco, with the aid of Volker Hornbostel, a collector of pieces from this period. In addition, a new Decors section was added, with pictures of the known decors of Alka Kunst, Bay Keramik, Bückeberg, Carstens Tönnieshof, Ceramano, Conradt (Gebruder), Cortendorf, Dümler & Breiden, Eiwa, ES-Keramik, Fohr Keramik, Ilkra Keramik, Jasba, Jopeko, Keto, Kupfermuhle Keramik (KMK), Marzi & Remy, Ruscha, Scheurich, Schlossberg, Schramberg (SMF), Stutzel Sachs Wächtersbach, etc.
Other additions to this CD included studio marks & porcelain marks sections. This CD covers the period 1900 to 2000, for form numbers. Also inside this CD is information on who designed the famous Hearts motif pieces for Wächtersbach and when.
Also within is the answer to the 5 WGP companies that had LAVA as a known decor. Of course, the work on both the form numbers & decors is ongoing as, since publishing this extensive CD, I have found new catalogues from Carstens Tönnieshof, Ceramano Fohr, Marzi & Remy, Ruscha, Roth & Ü-Keramik - so next year, a Volume/Edition 4 will be issued.
Other publications that I will launch this year are a Ceramano bookalogue to be released for the More Than Fat Lava Mid Century & Modern German Ceramics Exhibition happening in Amsterdam from 18 June 2011 in conjunction with Emiel Monnink from Retrominded. This exhibition will be opened by my friend Mark Hill.
Bauhaus Generated (German Atelier/Töpferei/Studio Pottery) 1920s to 2000 which contains the profiles of leading potters - who trained them, start date, marks etc with over 300 colour photographs. Over 700 potters are identified in this publication.
Studio potters include Antal (Bandi), Heiner (Balzar), Bampi (Richard), Bisang (Liselot) Bomblies (Eva), Bontjes van Beek (Jan), Böttger (Inge), Brügemman (Antje), Busz (Ralf), Crumbiegel (Dieter), Claussen (Michael), Doss (Antje & Rainer), Dudas (Laszlo), Eggemann (Hildegard), Frey (Harro), Gerhards (Walter), Gramman (Siegfrid), Harney (Else), Heuckeroth (Gerda), Hillers (Ulfert), Hohlt (Albrecht & Georg), Hudler (Friedrich), Kagel (Wilhelm), Kerstan (Horst), Kiessling (Albert). Klopfer (Lu), Kuch (Wilhelm & Elly), Kuhn (Beate), Kummer (Thomas), Lang (Anton) Laeuger (Max), Langelot (IB), Liebenthron (Gerhard), Lindig (Otto), Loesche (Ernst), Maetzel (Monica), Meier (Otto), Mühlendyck (Wim), Piesche (Anton), Schäffenacker (Helmut), Scheid (Ursula & Karl), Stahl (Rudi), Stahl (Wendelin), Stehr (Barbara), Uhlemeyer (Richard), Unterstab (Kerstin, Gudrun & Ralf), Weber (Rolf), Wichmann (Otto). The foreword to this publication will be written by Mark Hill.
How did you get into the business?
By accident! In 2001 I found a Fat Lava Bay Keramik piece in a charity shop in Chard, Somerset - I started to collect later. In 2004, after meeting my wife Esther, I moved to North Germany. I found a treasure trove of West & East German pottery. My collection, which up to that point was only 200 pieces, grew rapidly. However, very little was known then about this pottery. I started to catalogue the form numbers and after several discussions with my friend in the USA, Forrest Poston, I decided to write a book. Research on Spritzdecor to Fat Lava & West & East German Pottery Marks & Form Numbers started in 2004. The only book available at that time was 50er Jahre Keramik by Dr Horst Makus, only in German, and didn’t cover most of the items I was interested in. In 2006, a new book came out (only in German), by Dr Michael Thomas entitled Deusche Keramik und Porzellan der 60er und 70er Jahre, which is an excellent book. I still collect today, my WGP/EGP pieces have exceeded 21,000. I know it sounds a lot, but Michael Thomas has nearly 10,000 more!
Who or what inspires you?
This is a difficult one, I have several people who inspire me to write more, these include Mark Hill, Michael Thomas, Cari Zalloni, Stuart Brownrigg, Stuart Gunning, Emiel Monnink to name a few.
What has been your greatest success?
Again, difficult to think of just one thing. Work wise, writing the two original books which actually started life as a single book, but the printer I used was unable to bind such a large book so it became two.
Have you got any advice for someone wanting to break into the business?
Hmmmmm… make sure your workplace is quiet, has no telephone, make sure you back up your data - every day and make sure your research is sound. I don’t think of writing my books as a business, more of a quest to catalogue the history of WGP. I certainly have not made any money on them, so far, and I know I am not alone. Also, make sure you have a lot of cash in the bank as printing books is expensive!
We recently posted a photograph of two ‘lava glazed’ vases on our Flickr page which has proved very popular. So we thought that we’d write a few words and share a few more photos about West German ceramics from the 1950s to the 1970s.
After a period of time being generally ‘out of fashion’ these amazing ceramics are being appreciated once more for their style and eccentricity. They are now regularly seen gracing the pages of design and interior magazines.
The range of colours, shapes, textures and sizes is mind-boggling!
Some pieces are hand-thrown, others are mass-produced, stock shapes. However, as with the Poole ‘Delphis’ Pottery range, even these stock shapes can be transformed by the textures and the individual glazes in every colour imaginable. Pieces range in size from 3 inches to well over 20 inches tall for the larger floor vases.
Impressed ‘thumbnail’ detailing
Frothing lava glaze
No rules with colour combinations!
Typical base markings
A number of factories produced these characteristic ceramics - Baykeramik, Carstens, Dumler & Breiden, Jopeko, Roth, Ruscha and Scheurich to name but a few. Much has still to be learned about which company produced what. Some factories produced pieces with distinctive base markings such as the crossed swords of Dumler & Breiden, however the majority of pieces simply have serial number markings (often accompanied by ‘German’ or ‘W. Germany’). You may be lucky enough to find a piece with the original paper label, otherwise you’re in for a bit of detective work.
There hasn’t been a great deal published on West German ceramics from this period, however Fat Lava, by Mark Hill (from Amazon UK)is a good starting point - it outlines the main factories and is packed with good quality colour photos.
In fact, the book was written to accompany an exhibition of German pottery from this period held at King’s Lynn Arts Centre in 2006.
The pots work well displayed in groups of either similar or contrasting colours. The larger floor vases look great as stand-alone pieces.
Our particular favourites are the fiery oranges and reds, particularly ones with the bubbling lava glazes. We’ve built up quite a collection but good examples are getting harder to find and prices are rising steadily.
Trio of small, red and brown West German vases, 4-6 inches tall
Trio of incised vases - classic 50s shapes
Blue vase with original Scheurich paper label
Huge floor vases
Provides striking accent colours
We hope you’ve enjoyed looking at some of our collection. Have a look at our West German Pottery Collectors group on Flickr to see some more examples from us and other members. If this blog has inspired you to start your own collection, then happy hunting!!