After years of searching over hill and 'yon for relevant information about the identities of potters and their pottery, this book is now my constant work of reference and an excellent starting point for further enquiries. Not just including all the "usual suspects" (Leach(s), Hamada, Rie, Coper, et al) but the younger up and coming potters. The layout is intuitive and not only deals with the marks alphabetically but also divides them into symbol types (Creatures,Monograms, Signs) thus providing a more than comprehensive source. The compilers have done their best to provide as accurate information as possible for over 4750 Potters most of whom are still actually living! Anyone buying this book will find that the price is more than worth it and the covers will need reinforcing because of the extensive use it will get, a worthy edition to ANY reference library.
This book is an absolute must for all those interested in British Studio Pottery. Whether buying from galleries, dealers, studios, auction houses or chance findings at fairs or boot sales, this book clearly and easily identifies the makers of those sometimes enigmatic scratched, printed, painted or impressed marks found on most studio pottery pieces. Whilst essentially a book of reference,the sections are 'readable'with their fascinating detail of studio locations and often re-locations chronologically presented. Descriptions of the type of pottery produced by the studio is indicated and is a further aid to identification. The final section of the book, presenting in facsimile style the 'marks' themselves, is a highly absorbing, visual read showing the amazing range of designs employed by potters in 'signing' their work. There is no indication of the importance of the potters or studio work and so 'values' cannot be established through this book. That is rather dependent on the familiarity one has, or not of a 'name' within the Studio Pottery world. A very essential reference book to own.
No matter what item of pottery or porcelain you are trying to research, this should be one of two books you reach for first. My own copy has long since lost its shiny new look and is now a battered, well used and reliable source of information. Along with Encyclopaedia of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks by Geoffrey A. Godden, you really should not need anything else to find out all you need on backstamps and markings. Obviously other reference books come into their own on antiques and should also be purchased but for a first point of reference, these two books should be your first purchases and both will save you making very costly mistakes no matter how experienced you are.
Yet again Amazon fails to differentiate between two separate editions, the second of which is a quarter larger than the first. The potters represented here mostly had little significance since the last update of Goddens so would not have required an entry even if it was part of Goddens brief which was mainly concentrated on antiques. Studio pottery marks tend to make as much sense to the uninitiated as heiroglyphs so any guide through this minefield is appreciated. Not just a list of the potters but dates and even addresses where they changed their locations make this a book beyond the definition of thorough. There are some nineteenth century studio potters marks here which date from the time when the term was coined, so not just the twentieth century is covered Now almost impossible to find at an affordable price the decision to buy this book must be made on the depth of your passion for studio pottery and need for the identification. That was my review of the first edition but I was pleasantly surprised by the second edition. The same format but greatly increased in size. Absolutely essential for afficionados if studio pottery made in these islands
My first, and most serious complaint about this book is the price. Collecting studio pottery is the ideal hobby for the impoverished as lovely stuff still turns up at for a few pence. However, if I want to look it up I have to go and visit my better off friend because for the wopping price currently being asked for this book I could actually buy a huge collection of really nice pots. (NB since I wrote this the price has come down from several hundred quid to something sensible)
However, even if I owned a copy, it would be of relatively little use in my travels. It is a big, heavy tome (not, thankfully, as huse as Godden's Encyclopedia Of British Pottery And Porcelain Marks - although carrying both would enable you to balance the load and avoid curvature of the spine, I suppose). You will need a sturdy shoulderbag if you are to carry it round with you, and no way will you be able to consult it at boot fair, auction or charity bazaar, without attracting attention.
Consulting is a lengthy business anyway; the marks are arranged under the name of the potter or pottery. You've got to arrange them somehow, but there isn't as much cross-referencing as there should be. Opening the book at random, Tim Harker marked some of his pots "Tim Harker Greenwich", so you can easily find those ones under "H" for harker. But in the early 70s he marked them TIM. No cross-reference under "T", so your chance of finding it boils down to looking through the entire book. He also used a heiroglyphic squiggle, and there is an index of heiroglyphic squiggles at the back, thank goodness. However, as many potters use symbols and squiggles, sorting through these is a regular consumer of time. Not something you can do while deciding whether to bid or haggling at a bootfair.
The other place people buy and sell studio pottery is online. Here you are working from a photograph, and while some sellers may correctly identify their pots, others may not. You don't need a book as expensive as this to buy online; there is a lot of really good info available free from enthusiast websites, and, anyway, where the "greats" are concerned, such as Bernard Leach - well, there are fakes out there. A book won't help you there.
You should buy the pots you love, not what the book tells you is good, so you don't need this book to collect studio pottery, only to validate your choices after the event. It is helpful and informative if you want to know more about a pot you've just acquired, but don't expect to find everything in there. Despite the enormous number of potters covered, there are plenty who aren't. A quick glance at the "mystery pot" section on the Ceramike website is enough to show that opinions can differ wildly; one poster will claim a pot is a rare mark by a wonderful artist, the next may say it's a hideous excrescence from someone unknown nobody's evening class. Often arguments are only settled if the potter actually posts and says "This is one of mine".
A book can only do so much, and this is a fair attempt at comprehensiveness and ease of use, even if it could be better. But I do wish the publishers would print enough, at a sensible price, for the ordinary person to buy one.
Despite being nearly ten years old (my copy is a 2012 reprint) it does as described and covers the marks of the last hundred or so years. Sadly both of the authors/compilers have now passed and someone should think about revising and extending the book to cover the last ten years. A very useful to my tools for recognizing the obscure pot. The sort of book you look up one thing and are linked to other potters you never heard of..........definition of someone who is becoming a geek. The book lives by my computer!
A must for anyone collecting studio pottery. Inevitably will need regular (more frequent?) updating to identify new potters/relocating potters/ retiring potters; possibly by supplementary appendix with specific end dates?