Wonderful Wedding Ware-(5)

Ask the Antiques Expert: Wonderful Wedding Ware

by Allan Blackburn

Dear Allan,

Please can you help me with a valuation of this Carlton Ware set that I’ve had for 60 years. We started collecting this range before I got married. My husband (fiance at the time) bought me the first piece from Johnsons’ Jewellers in Grange over Sands. Over the years we bought each piece as it caught our eye and we both really loved it. There is one very big plate, three small plates, a round dish, an oval dish and two little vases as well a tray. We’ve never used them as they’ve just been on show on the dresser. I still live in Grange over Sands, but always mange to get my hands on a copy of Northern Life when I visiting my friend, over the border!

Mrs Carter, Grange over Sands.

Thank you for sending in the photos of your gorgeous part service. We get a lot of valuations for oddments like this at this time of year. Now we are fully into the wedding season, many brides and grooms are looking for something extra special for their gift list and ornamental pieces like these are very popular.

In recent years, the ‘done thing’ was to start a list at a department store like John Lewis where guests at the wedding could each choose a piece and collectively it would form a full set. However, more and more I see friends and family members coming into the centre and picking out a diner service, canteen of cutlery or decorative plates.

Nowadays, more than ever, people are realising the value of second-hand and antique sets and if it’s something they want to save for best, the pieces last longer and are usually looked after better. Also, we mustn’t underestimate the great ‘talking point’ antique plates present. If the set is safely stored away and only brought for Christmas and special family occasions, people tend to talk about the pieces, how they came to own them, and that’s when memories of the wedding day are enjoyed.

This set is a classic. It is Carlton Ware and this is from the Rouge Royale range.

Carlton Ware are famous for producing pottery of a consistently high standard and have led the market place for nearly 70 years. Their early products were Victorian Blush Ware, which was very popular at the time. At the turn of the century, they added a new line of Crested Ware. The further introduction of matte black ware with floral decoration and a range of ‘cloisonné’ secured their popularity.

In 1890, J F Wiltshaw formed a partnership with two Robinson brothers but by 1911 The Wiltshaws and the Robinsons had major disagreements and James Wiltshaw brought his son, Cuthbert into the company. In 1918 James was killed in a railway accident and Cuthbert established the old relationship with the Robinsons and established the name of Wiltshaw Robinson, which was later to become Carlton Ware.

By the late 1920’s, the range had expanded to include more modestly priced tableware. In 1929 Carlton was the first manufacturer to offer ‘Oven to Table’ wares and during World War Two this was all they produced. Their “Everyday Range” with its green base colour and fruit and floral designs continued to be successful and popular so the range was increased to include Hydrangea, Vine and Grape, Poppy, and Daisy.

The Oriental designs like yours (which is called New Mikado) were introduced between the two World Wars. These ranges together with a series of Lustre finishes really put Carlton Ware at the forefront of the market. Designs such as ‘Paradise Bird and Tree’ and ‘Secretary Bird’ are probably the most sought-after today.

In time the lustre ranges colours were standardised. Defined as Blue, Red, Green and Black, these new colours were easily distinguishable from the pre-war versions. New hand-painted decorations were added to include your pattern as well as other popular favourites like the Spider’s Web and New Stork.

The 1950’s were probably the most productive period in the Carlton Ware history. Most of their pieces now contained the word ‘Handpainted’ on the back stamp, regardless of whether it was or not! In 1958, the company officially changed its name to Carlton Ware Ltd, but there were poorer times ahead.

Cuthbert Wiltshaw died in 1966. Without Cuthbert at the helm nothing was particularly successful and eventually the Receivers were called in to the Copeland Street works in 1989. However, in 1997 Francis Joseph acquired the Carlton Ware name together with a small number of moulds and a few pre-production models. It is a tribute to him and Carlton Collectors that today the name has been rejuvenated and the products being made are once again eagerly sought after.

It’s lovely to see so many wonderful pieces in your collection that you have obviously looked after. The photo of the bottom of the pieces clearly shows the script looking writing which dates it from 1930s – 1940s. The Rouge Royale range has held its price over the last five years better than Carlton Ware’s other products. Your part-set has an insurance value of between £150 and £175.