Cowderoy Antiques

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Pool pottery

October 03, 2014 << Back

In 1873, Jesse Carter bought a near derelict pottery in the town of Poole, Dorset, England.
The pottery remains in the same location today. Jesse had already realized that there was a large deposit of clay just to the north of the town, and an excellent means of transporting his goods out, and his fuel in, through the harbour.
By the 1880's the factory was well known for its tiling products, mosaic flooring and advertising panels.

A rival pottery in the same area was known as the Patent Architectural Pottery. The Carter pottery rapidly overtook the Patent Architectural Pottery in quality and quantity, and in 1895 the Carter family bought the competition for £2,000.
When Jesse Carter retired in 1901 he handed over control of the potteries to two of his sons, namely Charles and Owen. It would appear that Charles was the 'managerial' type and Owen was more of a 'hands-on' artist.

In 1920, Charles Carter introduced Cyril, his son, to Harold Stabler, who in turn introduced Cyril to John Adams.
Stabler was a designer and silversmith, and Adams a designer and potter.
In 1921 the company of Carter, Stabler and Adams was set up as a subsidiary of the Carter Company to produce ornamental and domestic pottery. At this time the Carter Company was primarily concerned with the manufacture of tiling and architectural products. Carter Stabler and Adams (CSA) introduced a range of hand decorated, bright and vivid designs.


The items produced in the 1920's and 30's are the most sought after today and includes decorative tiles, stoneware, vases, urns, jugs, bowls, plates, and dishes. They were produced in a huge range of colours, decorations, and finishes. In addition Harold Stabler and his wife Phoebe introduced a Faience range and a whole series of figures and plaques. We see the introduction of the range known today as 'Traditional' with many design variants.
Sometimes the novice Poole collector will confuse the two-letter pattern code under the base of a piece with the initials of the artist. Given time and experience it becomes easy to recognise the difference.

In parallel with the highly decorated wares, CSA also made a range of tableware. The first range was Studland designed by Stabler and produced in about 1930. However, this was soon superseded by Purbeck and then in 1935/6 the Streamline range. As the Streamline range was being developed, CSA developed a two-colour decor scheme. Known around the world today as 'Twin tone', it gave the CSA tableware a distinct and recognisable character.
Possibly the most desirable pieces made during this period would be the 'Ship Plates'. According to folklore, artists decorating these plates could look across the harbour and copy the real thing which would be lying at anchor. However, since the the 'General Wolf', a Newfoundland Trader, was built in 1797 it seems doubtful that it would be in Poole harbour being painted in 1939. In truth they would appear to be based on a series of drawings by Arthur Bradbury. The 'Ship' Plates from the 1930's are highly desirable and keenly sought after.

So, the 1920's and 30's saw the company of Carter Stabler and Adams going from strength to strength. Then in 1939, World War II arrived and CSA nearly departed. Producing highly elaborate and decorative pottery was not a very good idea between 1939 and 1945, and the Poole factory was not really geared for munitions.
Added to that, the British Government took a dim view of fancy goods at the time, and put a stop to them. Somehow the CSA factory kept going until the end of WWII.
Harold Stabler died in 1945 and John Adams was not in the best of health, so it fell to Cyril Carter to undertake the re-building of the company. He convinced the board of directors to invest in a new type of kiln in 1946, and by 1948 the factory was in almost full production again. (Pictured left is part of the Galaxy range from Poole Pottery)

Post war production was based almost entirely on the pre-war designs, with the notable introduction of contemporary 'Freeform' pieces designed by Alfred Read and Guy Sydenham in 1953/4. As these 'Freeform' pieces were hand thrown and hand painted, it would be fair to say that each of them is a one-off. They are sought after by collectors the world over. Distinctive in design and flawless in quality, they offer a tribute to the CSA factory. Then in 1958 the company appointed Robert Jefferson as a designer and he developed a whole new range of 'studio ware'.
This was soon to become known as the Delphis range with its bright colours and individual styling. Being launched into the world of the 1960's, the Delphis range found immediate success and helped the company maintain its market position. The delphis range was complemented by the Aegean range, which was introduced in 1970. Sometimes Delphis and Agean can be difficult to identify as being one range or the other, particularly with the earlier Delphis pieces. The usual method of identification is the finer texture on the Delphis pieces and a more grainy texture on the Aegean range.