Sarah’s Crown Lynn

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  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:

This entry was published on June 18, 2012 at 8:09 pm. It’s filed under Crown Lynn, Pottery and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

13 thoughts on “Sarah’s Crown Lynn

  1. Reblogged this on collectablepride and commented:

    The most viewed collection on Thought I would reblog.

  2. I am seeking information on a particular commercial item (I hope that is the right term) I am wondering if Sarah would have ever seen Crown Lynn in the hotel-ware style that has “Peter Pan” printed on it in script. Presumably this was a promo item for the Peter Pan ice cream brand and not to do with the Peter Pan company that was known for tableware etc in Bakelite/plastic. I have never seen one before. From what I know of Peter Pan and the logo history the plate looks to be from somewhere between the late 1930s and the late 1950s.
    Cheers dz

    • Laurie Squires on said:

      It is probably from the Peter Pan Ballroom in Auckland. From memory it sas up the top end of Queen street, around the K’Road area and operated for many many years from about ww2 till I think mid 60’s. In those days dance halls served suppers & it was quite common for them to have there own china. They also were available for private hire for weddings, 21st,s etc.

      • Thanks Laurie, I had figured that out eventually as per my previous comment. I think in the earliest incarnation it was a supper club downtown off Customs Street East in the 1930s from what I have read. Another piece just came up for auction last week that matches the dish I was enquiring about – this time a tea cup.

  3. McAlpine Fridge jugs did indeed come as an accessory to domestic fridges. They were coloured white, blue, green and yellow to co-ordinate with the fridge cabinet colour. However they was not shaped to fit in the door….fridge doors did not have door shelves in those days…they stood on the top shelf alongside the ice compartment. I have a yellow one that was my Nana’s [she had a primrose enameled fridge], and a white one that belonged to my parents. As a child in 1950, I remember Jimmy Mcalpine building a fridge into the wall of the kitchen…..they cut a hole in the wall and took 3 feet of space from my bedroom.

    • Thank you for your comment….. I love hearing personal recounts of very collectable items. Do you still have the jugs????? I bet you find it funny to see them so coveted and collectable now.

      • Yes, I still have them…..along with so much I have kept from my past. My sister thinks I am crazy…..She is soooo minimalist!!! No soul!!! Sadly, I must confess to not using them,our modern life style has everything so conveniently packaged….but I have memories!!!

  4. I’ll take that as a no…I was able to resolve the question above; for the record Peter Pan was a cabaret that operated in downtown Auckland from the 1930s through to at least the mid 1970s. Crown Lynn did their commercial tableware for them.

  5. Jeanette on said:

    I have a six piece setting Crown lyn dinner set all pieces intact. Pattern is sunburst. Has been in store for years. I am wondering if any one has an idea what it is worth// e.mail j,a,m,m@clear, if you can

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