Sarah’s a woman after my own heart. She loves collecting and displaying her treasures. I find her house a delight for my eyes. I love all her stories when I ask where things come from. So this week I am sharing her collection on the New Zealand iconic pottery Crown Lynn.
Firstly a little background on Crown Lynn. There is so much that can be written about Crown Lynn, and I didn’t want to go on for too long, so I thought I could add to the history in future posts, as there are more Crown Lynn collections coming up.
Crown Lynn’s origins start way back in 1854 by a man called Rice Clark who wanted to drain his land so he made pipes by wrapping logs with clay and firing them with charcoal. This lead to a pipe business and other small business merging in 1929 to be called the Amalgamated Brick and Pipe company.
Tom Clark, the great grandson of Rice Clark was responsible for diversification in 1937 producing moulds for rubber goods like baby teats, gloves and condoms! He was an employer who always encouraged staff to experiment with new products. This resulted with an oil-fired continuous tunnel kiln which was built in 1941. Table manufacture began the following year. It’s funny how hard times actually benefit some, and the depression in 1940 resulted with no imported crockery being available in the country. Good news for Clark who supplied the American forces stationed in New Zealand and the Pacific as well as table ware for New Zealand military and domestic use.
From April 1943 to March 1944, one and a half million cups were made, this just blows my mind! In little old NZ. There was one problem with them however, the handles kept breaking off. Luckily this problem was rectified and their reputation was restored. This helped with the big contract of New Zealand railways to produce tableware. It may still be the most famous Kiwi icons of the twentieth century, and funnily enough it has gained almost mythical status as being unbreakable.
Sarah’s collection began after her mother died. She was helping her grandmother pack up her house (as she lived in the flat below her mother) where she found a shelf of six pieces of Crown Lynn in the laundry that she had never noticed before. Sarah asked her what she should do with it, which her grandmother replied “throw it away”. Of course she didn’t and that was the start of her Crown Lynn collection. Sarah thinks her grandmother found the Crown Lynn cheap and uncool. Of course when there is a lot of something around people often don’t like it. It’s when it becomes scarce and rare that people find it’s beauty. Sarah and I were reflecting on how many collections would have been thrown away by families packing up or tidying up an older family member’s house.
What I love about Sarah’s collection is that she loves the hunt. In fact she seems to rope in co-workers and friends when hunting for missing pieces. An example are the McAlpine Jugs. The fridge jugs were made after the war when new domestic fridges came into fashion. Fridge company McAlpine contracted Crown Lynn to make these water jugs, especially to fit in the fridge doors. So they came FREE with the fridge. Sarah has watched the jugs go up and up in price. She has the white (most common) yellow and the green jugs and has been hunting the blue jug. This is the elusive, rare jug that has sold for more than $2 500 on trademe.com. She can’t bring herself to come near that price but everyone at work and home is helping her find that piece- just hopefully for not that much!
Sarah does feel like she has won a competition when she finds that missing piece, like the Mount Cook daisy wall vase which she ‘hunted’ for ages, found and bought. It does fit perfectly among her many, beautiful white pieces. I love how the collection has an important place in her home, in the living room above the TV and photo area. The shelf is crammed full and is a feast for the eyes. Not all the pieces are Crown Lynn. There is Claurice Cliff and others. More importantly to Sarah than a name is the shape and colour of the pieces. I also love how Sarah keeps the McAlpine Fridge jugs on top of her fridge. Very suitable. Sarah has just had an old armchair covered in a material which has the Crown Lynn swan and a cushion covered in jugs, tiki’s and birds- Crown Lynn?
Writing this blog makes me want to start a lot of new collections. This week is no different. After meeting Sarah’s Mount Daisy wall vase I am desperate for one. It is so beautiful, I know it will enhance my home when I get one. What do you think of Crown Lynn? Do you have any pieces in your home and if so do you actually use them, or are they on show?
Some links for interest: