Oldcourt ware is an attractive lustre type ceramic produced by J. Fryer of Tunstall, Staffordshire until quite recently. Note that although the Oldcourt name is mainly associated with lustre-ware many non-lustre items were produced including the pixie figures, a range of character jugs and other items such as table-ware, decorative items etc. Unfortunately a fire in 1986 destroyed a lot of the companies records and few details are available regarding the Oldcourt history. Using my wife's collection and the little information I have found the following has been produced.
1921 to 1931
J, Fryer Senior (born 1899, Tunstall) originally worked in the mining/engineering business before lying about his age and enlisting in the army during World War One. On his return he again worked as a mining engineer and married Mercy Jones the daughter of a local pottery manufacturer. After marriage he borrowed money from his family and started as a market trader of pottery he bought wholesale from local factories. In 1921 he founded a small factory at Adam’s on Furlong Road, Tunstall buying whiteware and decorating it. I have not yet ascertained whether the Oldcourt range was produced during this period.
1931 to 1939
The business at Adams Road had flourished so larger premises were sought and found at the Oldcourt Works, Roundwell Street, Tunstall, Again whiteware was shipped in and nothing was actually manufactured. As above I don't yet know about the Oldcourt range
1939 to 1945
Ceased production whilst the factory was used for war storage
1945 to 1954
Name changed to J. Fryer and Son in 1945 and examples of Oldcourt type items have been found bearing this stamp but not actually marked as Oldcourt. From 1945 ceramics were actually produced as well as decorated although some whiteware was still shipped in.
The following additional stamp has been noted combined with this stamp.
1955 to 1998
Name changed to J. Fryer Ltd and the Oldcourt name came into use. From 1955 whiteware was no longer brought in and all items were manufactured on the premises. James Fryer senior died in 1970 and the business went to his sons James and John and in turn to there sons also James and John. J. Fryer Ltd was sold in 1998.
Cortman Ltd purchased part of the business in 1998 and production continued at the Crownford Works, Tunstall using a stamp I have yet to see. LJB Ceramics also purchased part of J. Fryer Ltd in 1998 and production using the oldcourt name has continued using stamp five accompanied by a stamp of Lorna Baileys signature.
Stamp One; 1955 to ca1960
Stamp Two; 1955 to ca1960
Stamp Three; 1955 to ca1960
Stamp Four; ca1960 to ca1970
Stamp Five; ca1970 to 1998 under J.Fryer. 1998 onward under LJB Ceramics. (Large and small versions)
Stamp Six; ca1970 to 1998
Stamps four onwards are occasionally found in gold. This seems to indicate "overglaze" painting. Stamps one to three have an uncertain colour status. These stamps represent 200 or so pieces researched. Unfortunately for most I can only give a broad date range, if anyone has any further information or access to additional stamps please contact me
So far only a single additional mark has been noted with no indication as to date. The colour of this stamp seems to have no significance.
The following imprinted marks have been identified. The significance (other than a model name) and relation to the main stamps has yet to be defined.