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Collecting Burleigh Ware


The name Burleigh Ware is renowned the world over for itīs fine craftsmanship of the highest standard. Burleigh Ware has long been associated with the Staffordshire town of Burslem. Burliegh Ware, today, is probably best known for its Art Deco period ceramics, with its brightly coloured pieces so popular in the 1930s. One of the most recognisable pieces to be found are the yellow jugs, with animal and human shaped handles. These range from the well known Parrot, to the rare Guardsman. These jugs are very collectable today.

. The Parrot handle for example is valued at around Ģ70-90. Others in that region are the Kingfisher, Dragons etc. Rare ones like the Golf jug, command much higher prices, well into the hundreds. Especially the golfer, which has checked trousers as apposed to plain ones. As all the jugs were hand painted they tend to vary slightly depending how the artist painted them and what colours were used. The more attractive, the more collectable, they are.
Parrot and Kingfisher jugs

In 1851 Hulme and Booth began a pottery business at the Central Pottery, in the heart of Burslem. Trading as Hulme and Booth, this pottery continued producing earthenware products until 1862 when a Mr William Leigh and Mr Frederick Rathbone Burgess formed a partnership and took over the running of the Central Pottery. The business name was changed to Burgess & Leigh and 1862 was to become a landmark date in pottery history.

Fine quality earthenware continued to be produced at the Central Pottery until 1868 when the business transferred to the nearby, larger Hill Pottery in Burslem. Production had increased, the range of ware continuing to be mainly utility toilet, dinner and tableware.

The Hill Pottery was to remain the home of Burgess & Leigh until 1889. The firm then moved to the newly constructed Middleport Pottery by the Trent and Mersey Canal which was the vision created by William Leigh.

Following the deaths of William Leigh in 1889 and Frederick Burgess in 1895, the business continued under their sons, Edmund Leigh and Richard Burgess. In 1912, upon the death of Richard Burgess, the business became solely owned by the Leigh family. Throughout this early period of the business, Burgess & Leigh purchased moulds and pattern engravings from other businesses following closures. Two businesses of particular note were those of Samuel Alcock 1859 and John Davenport & son 1887. Moulds first used by these two firms are still used today in the production of Burleighware.

In 1919 the business became a private limited company, the name being changed to Burgess & Leigh Ltd. The late 1920's - 1939 years were an extremely productive period for the company. Prior to the outbreak of war in 1939 there were around 500 workers employed at the Pottery. The team of designers and modellers were probably the most talented and innovative in the industry at that time.

Charlotte Rhead worked at the factory from 1926 until 1931 and produced many of her finest "tubelined" designs during this time. Harold Bennett an established and accomplished water colour artist produced many wonderful artworks that were applied to the tableware range. Charles Wilkes and Earnest Bailey formed an able partnership that was to produce many stunning and beautifully sculpted pieces that are as sought after today as they were during this "Golden Era" of the business.

1930 burleigh backstamp

Burgess Dorling and Leigh established in 1851, is still one of the few pottery firms still being run under family ownership as they are today. This fine Staffordshire pottery has been producing quality English wares for over 150 years.

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1940 burleigh backstamp

Early Burgess and Leigh pottery marks include the words "Hill Pottery" until 1889 and "Middleport Pottery" from 1889 onwards to the present day. The Beehive back stamps with leaves surrounding are 1930s, without them they date from the 1940s

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