The British Studio Potters' Marks book (BSPM), whilst being a valuable reference work is also the source of many annoying mis-attributions of studio pottery. In the hands of the inexperienced, it can turn a Jo Bloggs pot into a Hans Coper in seconds and if the buyer also only relies on the same book for guidance . . .?
Probably, the most irritating and very commonplace mis-attribution is that of pots to Evelyn Papp. Her entry appears in the first edition of the marks book, on page 345. Four marks are shown and it is the last two that are most misinterpreted.. Note that these marks are impressed and upright whilst the marks that most are seen are incised and italic.
In the particular case of this article, the pots that cause this confusion are made by Pog Pottery but as their mark does not appear in the book there is little chance of comparison.
The easiest way to illustrate the differences between the two, is to describe each potter's work and give further reference guides.
Evelyn Papp, potting since 1991. Originally inspired by Italian Mediaeval ceramics she produces a small range of tin-glazed earthenware. Current work includes plates, bowls, jugs, mugs vases and platters. Her process of working is based around a maiolica style of decoration. Pots are first biscuited to 975C. They are then white tin glazed and decorated with oxides and body stains by the use of brushwork, sponging and sgraffito. The glaze firing takes place at 1110C and recently there can be a third lustre firing at 750C. Her colours are very bright and the pots are comparatively glossy. She draws on many sources of graphic imagery but the most common images feature, cockerels, fish, floral and geometrics patterns. Not much like the soft, swirly colour mixed spirals on the pots supposed to be by her! The marks, a circle with a vertical stroke bisecting it and continuing outside the circle and downwards. Inside the circle a horizontal line starting at the vertical and moving leftwards to join the circle. To see examples of her work one can refer to the book, 'Potters, the Illustrated Directory of Fellows and Members of the Craft Potters Association', 12th edition, published 2000. Her entries are on pages 229 and 332. As well as being a member of the CPA, she is also a member of the Midlands Potters group and her work can be seen extensively in the Members Gallery on their web site. Evelyn Papp contact details: her pottery operates from 30 Derby Road, Bramcote, Nottingham. her telephone no. and email address can be found in the CPA handbook or viewing the website: ceramicreview.com The Midlands Potters website is: midlandspotters.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
POG Crafts Pottery. This is operated by two potters, Graham Fielder and Paul McGrath who have been making and selling their handthrown porcelain and stoneware at the Cardington Workshops for more than twenty years, since approximately 1985, (which is why there is so much of it about!). Their porcelain work would almost be better being falsely attributed to Lucie Rie; as they use a technique pioneered by her. This is the throwing of two or more differently coloured clays, together, which produces a spiral pattern in the pot. Porcelain and stoneware are both fired at 1250C +. The porcelain pots are single fired, are subtlety coloured and have matt surfaces. Most commonly seen pots are vases in the following colourways; pink/white, green/white blue/white. The mark is an oval, evenly bisected by a vertical long diagonal stroke that often slightly turns into a tail. Within the oval, a second horizontal line travels from the vertical to the left edge of the oval. No two marks are ever quite the same. I have little more information on them other than their contact details: Pog Crafts Pottery, Cardington Workshops, Harrowden Lane, Harrowden, Bedford, MK42 0TD. Tel: 01234 741677. Their web site is: bmad.org They can also be found selling their pots at the Saturday Craft Market by All Saints Passage, off St. John Street, Cambridge.
To sum up, the differences which will help attribution are:
Evelyn, figuratively paints onto white tin glazed earthenware, glossy glaze small, precise, impressed marks.
Pog works in porcelain and stoneware, pots are mostly self coloured and matt with large, flowing, incised marks.
BSPM also seems to be exceedingly inaccurate when it comes to marks of the vast Leach Family. Most are based upon, hand drawn sketches of the marks and bear little resemblance to the actual marks.
There are many more cases of this inexitude within BSPM, so it is best to view it as a rough guide only. Nothing compares with an extensive knowledge of pots. For example, no matter how right the mark is, Lucie did not work in searthenware and a porcelain vase signed CB is not by Clive bOwen.
The ebay list of horrors goes on for ever. Moral, know your pots, know your potters, know their works. Buy from experienced, knowledgable sellers. (Well I had to get a plug in!). You have ebay and the law on your side.