One of the best and most well-loved types of classic British decorative pottery is made by SylvaC. (The capital C at the end is deliberate.) You probably even recognise some of their more popular items, such as their familiar animal figurines and ubiquitous Toby jugs. The wonderful trinkets produced have become especially popular among collectors. However, that's not to say that they are rare by any means. There are plenty of examples out there still available if you're an avid pottery collector, despite SylvaC ceasing production of all of their pottery back in 1982.
SylvaC Pottery and Porcelain
History of SylvaC
Back in the late nineteenth century, two businessmen called William Copestake and William Shaw decided to set up a new pottery company. In 1894, the company was founded under the name Shaw and Copestake. However, within the first year of business, Copestake left the company, and was replaced quickly by Richard Hull in 1895. This was the start of a successful partnership, which only went from strength to strength over the next forty years of trading what were commonly known as 'fancies'. The wares produced by the company were unlike other pottery made around this time, as they were mass produced and hand painted, as opposed to being moulded by hand. As it turned out, Richard Hull was an excellent choice of business partner, as he paved the way for the company's success by developing the export side of the business. When Richard Hull passed away in 1935, his son, Richard Hall Junior, took over his father's role in the business as partner, and the company continued to thrive.
Shortly afterwards, in 1938, Richard Hull married the daughter of Thomas Lawrence, who owned Falcon Pottery (their wares had a very distinguishing Falcon mark). Although the two companies were independent for almost nineteen years, they eventually merged on a site that was built opposite the old Shaw and Copestake manufacturing works. In 1964, the Falcon pottery mark was finally ended, and two companies were officially one.
Trading of pottery continued until 1982, when the company was voluntarily liquidated. Sadly, as of this date, all of the records that existed which documented the dates of production and styles of all the different types of pottery were destroyed. The North Midlands Co-operative Society bought the factory and all its equipment. About a year and a half later, the company began to produce pottery that was called Crown Windsor. However, only five months after the production of this began, they were forced to liquidate, as business was unsuccessful. In 1991, all SylvaC pottery that remained was sold off.
Despite very few records being in existence today, SylvaC is still massively collectable and popular among collectors, who have managed to piece together pictures of how and when certain items were made. There are still many, many models in existence that have not been recorded. These pieces are considered rare in the pottery world, and are very sought after, and are often worth a lot. Reproductions of SylvaC pottery have been produced since its liquidation, but obviously are not as collectible as the real thing.
Some of the most famous and collectible pieces of SylvaC pottery are their popular dogs and rabbits. The rabbits came into existence in the early 1930s. As legend has it, Richard Hull was visiting France and saw similar bunny pieces. He knew immediately how loved they would be by the British public, and soon set about creating something similar with the SylvaC mark. And he was right; the rabbits were so successful, they continued to be made until 1975, meaning they were in production for over forty years. The designs were in many different glazes and colours, one of the most popular being the green rabbits. At first, the rabbits were glazed with a matt finish. But in the 1970s, a gloss finish was applied. There were many different poses produced, including one-ear-up and one-ear-down rabbits, crouching rabbits, funny rabbits, and the ever-popular Harry the Hare model.
The dog figurines were also well loved, so much so that more than two hundred types of dog figures were created over the years, including representations of nearly every type of dog breed. Business was booming before the Second World War, and the competition was ferocious, so Shaw and Copestake created around forty different types of doggy pottery.
However, it was the terriers that proved to be the most popular figurines. Over all of their years of business, these scruffy rogues were the jewel in the SylvaC crown, and were always desired by member of the public. The most common SylvaC dog was modelled by Reginald Thomson and called the Toothache dog. However, one of the rarest dogs is called the Mac dog. If you find yourself with one of these, it might be worth a small fortune! He was a Scottie dog who was holding a golf ball, produced in five different sizes by the London-based modeller, Otakar Steinburger.
Apart from the dogs and the rabbits, other pottery made by SylvaC included character and Toby jugs, tableware, gnomes, figurines, and novelty items known as 'fancies'. Very early pieces of SylvaC pottery included cheese stands, intricately decorated vases, flower pots, and jugs, which were all painted by hand and extremely ornate. As the years passed, styles of pottery changed, but the quality of SylvaC remained constant. As technology advanced, so did the different techniques used, particularly when it came to decorating the pottery. Towards the start of the company's life, aerography was used with hand painting. This was followed by lithographic transfers with any embellishments added by hand. Between the late 1920s and the 1950s, SylvaC imitated the produce of Wedgewood's jasper pottery by using a cellulose finish. And of course, the matt glaze was hugely popular and applied to many of the wares produced from the 1930s onwards.
This being the case, there are now many types of SylvaC pottery available today if you're thinking of adding to or starting your collection. Happy hunting!