Gray’s Pottery used many backstamps throughout the life of the company. 59 of them are included here but only 21 represent significantly different versions.
Print. All green. 20.5x9mm
This is the earliest known mark for Gray’s Pottery and has been found on a commemorative jubilee plate, dated 1907.
1911. Print. All black. 18mm diameter.
The Sports China design was registered with the Patent Office in 1911. Its number is 588114. Sports China items (See Illustration 10 below) are typically small porcelain hollow-ware shapes such as bottles, flasks and urns. Each carries an enamelled print of a footballer in a particular team strip (eg Burnley, Fulham, Gainsborough Trinity, Manchester United). The team’s achievements are printed in a panel on the reverse.
1911-14. Possibly stamped. Three known colourways: black, yellow lustre, green. 27×8.5mm
1911-14. Print. All black. 16.5x6mm
Probably in use between 1912 and 1915.
Print. All black. 28x7mm
Note the ’rounded’ ampersand rather than the flat-topped version used around this time on other backstamps.
1914. Print. All pink. 28x16mm
A pattern name mark – Georgian No 743.
1914-15. Print. All black. 41x28mm
Known to be used with Hardwicke pattern.
1914-18. Print. All black. 20×18.5 and 28×25.5mm
1st Galleon mark B with the ‘o’ within the ‘C’ of ‘Co’.
1914-19. Print. All black. 20×18.5 and 28×25.5mm
1st Galleon mark B with the ‘o’ within the ‘C’ of ‘Co’ and a comma after HANLEY.
Three examples of B1/B3 marks for specific retailers.
1915. Print. All black.
A pattern name mark – Swansea No 1586.
1915. Print. All black. 28x19mm
A pattern name mark – Hardwicke No 829.
1915. Print. All black. Size unknown
A pattern name mark – Sèvres
Probably in use at some time up to 1915. Print. All black. 23.5x6mm
This backstamp has been seen on pattern 709, on two examples of pattern 859 (a version of Sèvres Marbling) and on another early, unnumbered pattern. The lettering style appears unique in the context of all other Gray’s Pottery marks although the ‘o’ enveloped by ‘C’ for ‘Company’ exists in B3 First Galleon backstamps and in the Gray’s exhibition stand lettering in 1919.
1915-19. Print. All black or all blue. 18×7 and 24x9mm
1918. Print. All black. 24x11mm
Backstamp C15 with the addition of ‘ALEXANDRA WARE’. Princess Alexandra Wettin, Princess Arthur of Connaught (1891-1959) visited the Gray’s Pottery stand at the British Industries Fair in London in March 1918 (See Illustration 11 below) and bought some ware. Later, she paid a visit to the pottery in Stoke-on-Trent and her Lady in Waiting subsequently wrote to Mr Gray on June 22nd 1918 to confirm the Princess’ permission ” …. to allow the Pottery to be called Alexandra Ware”. Precisely which range of pottery was concerned is not known, but examples of patterns 1581, 1582 and 1583 are known with this mark.
Illustration 11: The letter authorizing the naming of Alexandra Ware.
As some readers may find the writing style a little difficult to read, we have transcribed it below. We would be interested however to know the name of the Lady in Waiting who wrote this letter.
June 22nd 1918
1, Sussex Square,
Hyde Park, W.2.
Dear Mr Gray
Her Royal Highness Princess Arthur of Connaught desires one to say that she will be very pleased to allow the Pottery to be called Alexandra Ware.
She asks one to thank you very much for the present of the caddie, which she is pleased to have as a souvenir of her visit to Hanley
E. F. (indecipherable)
Lady in Waiting
1919-early 1920s. Print. All black. 28×25.5mm
1st Galleon mark B with the two letters of ‘Co’ separate and a hyphen between HANLEY and ENGLAND.
Early 1920s. Three examples of H1 marks for specific retailers.
1921-28. Print. Black with yellow sails, shields and ‘poop’ window. 17x21mm. The H mark is referred to as ‘the second galleon’ mark.
1921-28. Print. Black with yellow sails, shields and ‘poop’ window. 23x27mm The H mark is referred to as ‘the second galleon’ mark.
Mark H2 (1921-28) omits the words ‘HAND-PAINTED’.
1923-28. Print. Generally black and yellow, but variations include: all black, black with blue, black with orange. 19×19 and 26.5×26.5mm
The origin of the designation Gloria Lustre is unknown but the name comes into use when Gordon Forsyth (the then Superintendent of Art Education in Stoke-on-Trent and a friend of AEGray) collaborated in the production of lustre ware: ‘An outstanding feature will be the Gloria lustre, wherein the firm have utilised in some measure the services of Mr Gordon Forsyth’ (Pottery & Glass Record Feb 1923 p358). Note that one of AEGray’s grandchildren, born in 1929, was named Gloria.
1925. Print. Two known colourways: brown, black. 20x20mm
This appears to be a retailer’s mark and the lustre patterns seen with it correspond to designs in Gray’s 4400 and 4500 range. The definition of R&D Ltd in this context is unknown.
1925. Print. Brown. About 20x20mm
This appears to be a retailer’s mark and has been recorded on pattern 4437. As with backstamp ER&D, the definition of D&SG in this context is unknown
1925-28. Stamp. Two known colourways: bronze, gold. 14×14 and 20x20mm
1927. Print. Black, orange and green. 17×19 and 24x28mm
Possible additional text: ‘HANDPAINTED’ or ‘HANDPAINTED DESIGNED BY SUSIE COOPER’ plus two wavy lines.
This represents the first general use of Susie Cooper’s name as designer on a Gray’s backstamp. Note that this mark is subtly different from the design of all other D marks: compare the liner’s masts and the green waves of the sea.
Probably used 1927/8. Print. 20x24mm.
Similar to D3. Two examples recorded:
All brown with Golden Catkin pattern 7671
All blue (as shown) with Almond Blossom pattern 7672
1928. Print. Black, orange and green. 19.5×25.5mm
Together with D3 and D4, D2 seems to have been used on a limited range of ware in the pattern range 7670-7957
1928. Print. All brown. 20x22mm
Together with D2 and D4, D3 seems to have been used on a limited range of ware in the pattern range 7670-7957. Two incorporated pattern names are known: Golden Catkin and Almond Blossom.
1928. Print. All blue. 19.5×25.5mm
Together with D2 and D3, D4 seems to have been used on a limited range of ware in the pattern range 7670-7957, in this case specifically nursery ware. It exists in minor variations: without “SUSIE COOPER” and with the pattern name eg QUADRUPEDS (see DQuad).
1928-29. Print. Black, orange and green. 19.5×28.5mm
The most common D stamp, in use from pattern numbers 7200 up to 8500. Examples of designs with this backstamp and with numbers before 7200 do exist, but statistically these are uncommon and may relate to patterns ‘post-dated’ as Miss Cooper’s.
1928-31. Print. Black with yellow sails. 23×28.5mm. The H mark is referred to as ‘the second galleon’ mark.
1929-30. Print. Black, orange and green. 19.5x23mm
Susie Cooper left Gray’s Pottery in October 1929 in order to start her own business. This backstamp was probably the practical use of a residual stock of D1 marks, finally exhausted in the middle of 1930 when the pattern numbers had reached 8734. Mark D6 (1929-30) omits the words ‘HAND-PAINTED’.
This is an uncommon version of the 1st Galleon mark B because it has Gray’s Pottery rather than AE Gray & Co, the company name right up until Portmeirion Pottery was created in 1962. Gray’s Pottery appears to have been used on backstamps from about 1928 (and in the first advert in 1930). Hence, it’s strange that a backstamp in use in the 1910s and at the start of the 1920s is ‘reused’ in the late 1920s.
It has been recorded on patterns 8554, 8971, 9113 and 9124, which are all designs from about 1929/30.
1929-34. Print. Black and orange. 21×34.5mm
Gray’s produced a number of patterns for Heals such as Layebands 8286 and Aquamer 8375 in 1929 and A959 and A1284 in about 1934. Heal’s four-poster trademark was incorporated into a version of the Clipper backstamp, using the same style and typeface. However, the early attribution of this mark may be incorrect and perhaps should be more in line with the introduction of backstamp N2 in 1933. A complete list of known Gray’s patterns for Heal’s is given in the Retailers section.
1930s. Stamp. All brown. 28x5mm
An uncommon mark on ware made exclusively for Gray’s Pottery.
1930. Print. All blue. 20x26mm
This specifically refers to pattern 7742, created by Susie Cooper in 1928.
All-black. 24×31. This is the basic Clipper backstamp but with minimal lettering. It has been recorded on splashed lustre patterns 9222 and 9234, designs from about 1930.
1931-33. Print. All black. 14.5×20 and 21×29.5mm
Designer Jack Bond’s mediaeval ship, the so-called Pharaoh’s Boat, was originally intended for silver lustre ware, according to his correspondence. However, this printed version (rather than the stamped R2) can be found on a wide range of decorations. This is the only R backstamp to carry the words ‘HAND PAINTED’.
1931-33. Print. Black, yellow and green. Also all-black, but uncommon. 12.5×20.5 and 21×34.5mm
The first of Gray’s Clipper marks, said to be based on a brigantine ‘Emily’. Mark N0 (1931-33) omits the words ‘HAND-PAINTED’.
Several pots in the pattern range A8150-A8400 have come to light which have N0 or N1 backstamps. The designs would have been created in about 1946/7 and the only logical explanation is that (Stoke) backstamp transfers were in short supply and so a few early (Hanley) ones were pressed into use!
1932. Print. All black. 14x19mm
Waite & Son Ltd of Mitcham in Surrey was a lampshade manufacturer. Gray’s Pottery, in addition to its own range of table lamps, decorated ceramic lamps and their shades in matching patterns for Waites. The pattern numbers fit into Gray’s A200 series but a ‘Waites’ pattern A509 has also been recorded.
1933-45. Print. All black. 14.5×18 and 19.5x24mm
Used predominantly on lustre ware, especially silver.
1933-50. Print. Black, yellow and green. 12.5×21 and 21.5×35.5mm
Mark N3 (1933-61) omits the words ‘HAND-PAINTED’.
1935-45. Print. Black, yellow and green. 12.5×21.5 and 21.5×35.5mm
Sunbuff was the name given to a range of patterns used, though not exclusively, on a buff-coloured Johnson Brothers earthenware body. Over 90 Sunbuff patterns have been recorded out of a total of some 5800 possible patterns between numbers A1427 and A8304.
1935-45. Stamp. Three known colourways: black, deep blue, brown. 28.5×7.5mm
This is backstamp R2 without the ship and is usually to be found where space is restricted.
1935-45. Stamp. Three known colourways: black, deep blue, brown. 28.5x26mm
A stamped mark on ware without an original backstamp. This is because this was used on ware specifically designed and made for Gray’s Pottery, often by Kirklands or Winkle & Co. Note that Kirklands production was concentrated at Burgess & Lee in Burslem under the wartime Concentration Scheme.
1939-53. Print. All black. 12.5×21, 17×28 and 21×35.5mm
Mark N8 (1942-58) omits the words ‘HAND-PAINTED’. One version has a comma after the words ‘Stoke-on-Trent’.
1940s. Print. All black. 21×19 and 28x25mm
The Old Castle backstamp, not exclusive to Gray’s Pottery, was a brand name used in North America. It was predominantly used by Gray’s for lustre, especially bronze and bronze/carmine patterns.
See pattern A7565 as an example
1945-50. Print. Black, yellow and green. 27.5×35.5mm
This wider Clipper mark was introduced to cover the larger manufacturers’ backstamps in use after the Second World War. Mark N6 (1948-61) omits the words ‘HAND-PAINTED’.
1949. Print. All black. 27x33mm
This backstamp incorporates the Heal Fabric’s logo. Known to have been used with patterns A8163, A8168 and A8669 of the mid-to-late 1940s and also for a 1947 royal commemorative plate. A complete list of known Gray’s patterns for Heal’s is given in the Retailers section.
1950s. Print. All black. 30×36.5mm
Gray’s Pottery supplied a number of products to Dunhills marked with this special backstamp which has been recorded in ‘standard’ writing format or ‘reversed-out’ as in this example. Typically, the items would be associated with smoking such as tobacco jars (humidors) and ashtrays. Some pieces just bear the Dunhill name in its own style alongside a standard Gray’s backstamp such as mark U1.
Mid 1950s. Print. All black. 17x31mm
Fondeville was an American retailer.
This mark also exists with ‘Made in Stoke-on-Trent’.
Mid to late 1950s. Print. All black. 17×28 and 21×32.5mm
The use of the word ‘Staffordshire’, rather than ‘Stoke-on-Trent’, seems to have been a trend in the 1950s.
Late 1950s. Stamp. Two known colourways: black, green. 35x16mm
1960-61. Print. Two known colourways: green, pink. 27×18 and 39×24.5mm
The pattern name is often incorporated between ‘Portmeirion’ and ‘Designed by’ eg Malachite.
1960-61. Print. Two known colourways: black, green. 28x18mm
The word ‘Ware’ may be replaced by the pattern name.