I have been increasingly aware lately of a number of "rare" pieces turning up on eBay that are supposedly produced by Bridgewater. There are 2 pieces in particular which have drawn my attention that keep appearing and these are the rather ornate, wedge-shaped butter dishes with the handle and the large, round cheese domes - both sporting the lithographs from the Bridgewater "Dairy" range, plus some odd, gilt flourishing added on the wedge-shaped piece. I have also now seen butter dishes in a very similar style to the old authentic ones with a flatter, tray-like base.
Since these pieces didn't have the simple and clean, classic lines of Bridgewater pottery and basically just "didn't look right", I made some investigations and contacted Bridgewater themselves.
Apparently, a while ago, some of the authentic Matthew Rice lithograph transfers managed to get into the wrong hands and ended up on items of pottery that did not originate from the Bridgewater factory. Since the backstamp was copied also, it gave the pieces a certain air of (false) authenticity.
As well as the butter dish and cheese dome, there is also an odd-shaped jug with a blue version of the lithographs on to watch out for. I must point out at this stage that there are also GENUINE Bridgewater jugs and butter dishes from the range, but these have the usual, black transfers on and the butter dishes are the normal style and design with the deeper base and more shallow lid..
All genuine Emma Bridgewater pieces, if they have lids with a "knob", will have a pointed shape to them. The fakes have a flat, smooth "knob" - as seen in the cheese domes and the more recent "tray and lid" type butter dishes.
There is a section in the "Emma Bridgewater" book by Steven Jenkins on page 119 which gives a very good account of these aforementioned pretenders.
JANUARY 2010 UPDATE: There has been another influx of these fakes on eBay. Can I urge everyone who sees them appearing to report them through the correct eBay channels so that they can be removed before people bid on them. There seems to be a particularly high incidence of people selling the fakes in the Norfolk/Suffolk region and, typically, many of these are inexperienced Bridgewater sellers who often sell other makes of pottery and bric-a-brac also. They invariably refuse to alter their description or remove the listing despite being given the information about the background of the pieces. Please be careful!
Many thanks to Chris Stoker for supplying the photographs.