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Crown Ducal – A Guide to Identifying and Collecting

Crown Ducal – A Guide to Identifying and Collecting

Pottery has been around since the beginning of civilization and has seen it’s way through the decades as a beautiful, exotic utilitarian art form. From vases to bowls to sculptures, ceramics, pottery, and china have become the ultimate collectors’ item, and as prices in the antique market go up, so does their popularity. What’s great about collecting pottery is that you can aim to collect an entire set, seeking out piece by piece like a treasure hunt, or just maintain a constantly growing gallery of your favorite pieces. Whether meaningful or artistic, Crown Ducal patters, designed by Charlotte Rhead, have gained significant notoriety in the antique collectors’ arena.

Crown Ducal patterns date back to the early 1900’s when Crown Ducal was a branch of A.G. Richardson & Co. of Tunstall, and eventually of Cobridge. In 1931, Charlotte Rhead, the most notable designer for the brand, began work at AG Richardson, producing a number of Art Deco patterns commonly attributed to the Crown Ducal name. She worked with at least 11 other designers at A.G. Richardson & Co., making it hard to attribute a single design or pattern to her specifically, though little is known about the other designers on staff with her. Due to the success of the Crown Ducal designs, the company expanded from their original factory in Tunstall to nearby Cobridge in 1933. Desipte Charlotte Rhead leaving the factory shortly after the expansion, production of the Crown Ducal line continued until well into the 1970’s. Some designs designed by Charlotte Rhead are now considered valuable collectors’ items, while others were relief shapes that were mass-produced by Crown Ducal due to their popularity. Individual pieces by Rhead are far more valuable than her mass-produced designs, though depending on their popularity and distribution can be equally as valuable in the antiques and pottery market.

Crown Ducal patterns and pieces, unlike many collectors’ items, can be very difficult to identify. This is because of the seemingly random way by which patterns, collections, and pieces are numbered, and stamped. Some patterns included in the Crown Ducal line were stamped with the same number, while other Crown Ducal patterns are stamped with different numbers. Some pieces in Crown Ducal series received their own number, while others received a number similar or identical to the other pieces in a series. As a rule, most pieces of pottery are marked to indicate the company of origin as well. This is usually done by stamping the piece, incising the mark into the clay, or painting it onto the bottom surface. With Crown Ducal, the typical stamp is a crowned oval mark with the initials of the company ‘AGR,’ though the earlier pieces carry a stamp very similar to those used by the company’s later lines, making it hard to distinguish between the eras.

There are a number of pattern collections under Crown Ducal as well, including but not limited to Picardy, Florentine, Persian Rose, Golden Leaves, and Wisteria. They also come in a variety of styles from the popular vases, pitchers, serving plates, and bowls, but also including a line of children’s Nursery Ware. The best way to identify a true Crown Ducal piece is by identifying the pattern, and then looking at the traits to determine the era in which it was produced. For this purpose, it’s best to enlist the help of a trained eye to make any real distinction between a real and a fake Crown Ducal, or a 1931 piece and a 1941 piece.

Collecting pottery and antiques can be fun, if you have the patience to really do some digging. Finding information on smaller companies and rare items will be beneficial, and trained experts are generally happy to help answer any further questions you may have. Crown Ducal pieces, especially those that can be attributed to Charlotte Rheads, are rare treasures that can be difficult to find. But should come across a specific piece you’ve been looking for, it should be cherished and displayed with pride.

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