Poole Pottery


Poole English Modernist Bowl with Aqua and Hand-Painted Blue Glazing (LEO Design)


The town of Poole, in the county of Dorset, lies along the Southern seacoast of England.  In 1873, Jesse Carter purchased an existing "tile manufactory" along the quay (British English for "dock" or "pier").  Around the Turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century, the workshop started making art pottery wares in the Art Nouveau style.  After WWI, Poole (still called Carter, Stabler & Adams) embraced jazz-age Art Deco.  Around this time, Poole also formed a creative alliance with members of the Bloomsbury Group including Duncan Grant, Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell (Virginia Woolf's sister).  Designs evolved into Post-War Modernism after WWII.  During all this time, the factory continued to make ceramic tiles.  In fact, Poole supplied much of the ceramic tiling for London Tube stations in the Thirties.

Dorset is known for the exceptional quality of its clay (very pure).  Poole is best known for its highly-decorated (painted) ceramics.  Most of this work was done by women.  In England (as in America), decorating pottery was considered a safe and suitable occupation for a middle class woman (if she must work outside of the home).  Such work was well-supervised, artistically respectable, within the universe of "feminine craft," and properly separated from the more brutish world of male trade and industry.  The decorators were encouraged to express themselves (to a degree) within the parameters of the designer's established pattern.  Thus, each piece of Poole pottery is truly unique.  And the decorator-artists were encouraged to "sign" their pieces with a small monogram on the back of the piece.  Certain unique pieces, by certain decorator-artists, have developed a devoted following amongst collectors, sometimes commanding competitive prices.

Poole had two periods of significant financial difficulty, once in the Thirties (during the Depression) and then in the early 2000's.  After a few changes of ownership, Poole pottery declared bankruptcy and closed in 2006.  It was purchased by an investment group and re-opened in 2007—now in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, England's traditional ceramics-making region in central England.

The Late Modernist bowl, shown above, was created and hand-painted in the 1980's.  An aqua underglaze is hand-decorated with cornflower blue "gadrooning" in a somewhat biomorphic design.  It is signed by the artist-decorator (possibly Tina Sherratt).  Click on the photo above to learn more about it.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com)

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248