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Collecting Troika Pottery

TROIKA wheel vase
TROIKA 1963-1983

( Troika, a Russian word for three people working together or a Russian vehicle, pulled by a team of three horses abreast)

This pottery was set up in Cornwall, England in 1963.

Started by three people, each putting in 1000 to lease Wells Pottery at Wheal Dream in St Ives, Cornwall.

Benny Sirota was the only one with pottery experience. Leslie Illsley worked as a sculptor; Jan Thompson was a sleeping partner who pulled out two years later in 1965.

The early white pieces by Leslie Illsley are much sort after and command high prices.

The pottery is noted for its unique sharp angular shapes producing a rough textured effect. Shapes, forming chimney and wheel vases, marmalade pots and spice jars, cube lamp bases, dishes, bowls etc. The way in which they were decorated by hand meant no two were the same.

TROIKA coffin vases

Smooth glazed finishes were produced later, although popular with the studio, were not so popular by the public, even though they were harder to make.

Within a year of Troika starting up, their ceramics were on sale in two major London stores, Liberty and Heal's. 1968 saw their items being displayed in London and New York in top exhibitions.

In 1970 their lease was terminated at Wheal Dream Pottery so they moved the Troika pottery to ,Fradgan Place, Newlyn.

By 1976 the demand for Troika started to wane putting the Company into decline. In 1978 Heals stopped selling craft pottery along with recession and government tax increase saw the two remain founders dissolve their partnership, Benny Sirota keeping the shop and Leslie Illsley the pottery.

Cube Vase

1983 the bank called in the loans on the Company and it was finally closed in by Illsley in December, with assets which were virtually worthless.

Sadly, Leslie Illsley died on 20th March 1989.

For collectors, look out for pieces pre 1970 with "St Ives" marked on the bottom, not found on later ones which would have been produced in, Newlyn.

Date your Troika, Click here for Troika backstamps.

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