Albert Edward Gray FRSA 1871-1959

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Elizabeth Gray (née Griggs) seated centre with her eight children, probably on her 60th birthday in 1895. The daughters are (from left to right): Florence, Elizabeth and Matilda. The sons are William Martin, Robert Thomas, Walter and Hazel Arthur. Albert Edward is seated, left
Amongst Gray's freelance designers was Nancy Catford (1905-1992), married name Stone, who modelled in wood. Edward Gray so liked her owls, animals and country characters that he reproduced their shapes in pottery and sold them, undecorated and decorated, as ornaments.

A nephew by marriage, Lieutenant (later Major-General) G (Jack).A.Bond contributed numerous designs in the 1920s and 1930s and in 1932 redrew the company's trademark of the ship. Until then it had taken a wide variety of forms but, using the Brigantine 'Emily' as his model, he produced the definitive pattern intended for non-lustre ware. Another design was prepared for lustre items, but the distinction was not rigidly maintained. Later, Edward Gray's daughter Joan (subsequently Mrs Ronald Bailey) modelled and designed for the company.

Edward Gray once remarked: "Colour is courage". He was a man who lived-up to his concepts and was prepared to see them through to fruition. He believed in the clear, bright colours of the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet, with clear, warm browns a great favourite. With the development in the early 1930s of 'push-banding', as it was known on the Works, the hand-decoration of shaded bands in these colours became a characteristic feature. Because by using this method of painting time on each piece was comparatively short, yet producing a dramatic result, it enabled him to achieve his objective of high quality and artistic decoration at a reasonable price. Another speciality of the company was its lustre ware, notably: gold/bronze, purple/pink and silver.

Click the links above to learn more about the lustre styles in the frame below. Click the image for a larger version


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Image credit: GP

In a trade circular he explained that the metal used for silver lustre was actually platinum, because silver itself oxidises so easily. The oldest known lustre work is Persian of about the first century AD and the art was brought to Europe by the Arabs in the Middle Ages by way of Spain, in the manner known as Hispano-Moresque. Lustre decorated pottery was manufactured commercially from the early nineteenth century but, with the introduction of electro-plating in 1838, demand for silver lustre soon died. Gray was a leader in resuscitating this form of decoration and the company produced most attractive lustre tea and coffee sets. Several individually produced commemorative bowls of great beauty in gold or silver lustre were presented as gifts and could not be bought (Below and bottom).


This bowl is fully hand-painted in lustre colours, produced as a presentation gift to Haslemere Educational Museum, an institution well-known to Edward and Elsie Gray when they retired to West Sussex. It is available to view by appointment at Haslemere, please contact  collections@haslemeremuseum.co.uk or telephone 01428 642112.

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Extract from Pottery and Glass, August 1950 © Lema Publishing Ltd.