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Dennis China Creamware - blue white cornishware

Updated on July 1, 2012

Seventy five years ago T.G. Green launched a new range of hand turned, blue and white banded kitchenware. Inspired by Cornwall's glistening blue sea, creamy clouds and white crested waves, Cornish Blue quickly became established as the housewife's choice. Perhaps it was the distinctive design, the elemental colours, the utilitarian qualities or just plain availability that made it so popular. Whatever the reasons, Cornish Ware and other T.G. Green ceramics are still being made and remain as popular as ever.

Richard and Sally began buying Cornish Ware s ortly after their wedding in 1969. Sally was initially attracted to the classic blue and white striped domestic kitchenware because her mother had used it. You didn't buy it as a set, it could be bought bit by bit and the variety was enormous. There was everything from breakfast sets to baking paraphernalia. Instead of bringing out the best china, Cornish Ware was the smart, stylish, matching yet thrifty alternative.

Richard needed no excuse to start a collection. "As soon as Sally expressed her passion for Cornish Ware, I was on the lookout. In this family, I am the professional collector but she is the one with the artistic eye." The family grew along with their collection of Cornish Ware. Gradually other examples of T.G Green ceramics crept into the sea of blue and white adorning their dresser. The 'new s nlit yellow for spring' first launched in the early 1960's, the dotty blue and pale green 'Domino Ware', the 'Cornish Gold' designed in the late 1960's.

Then Richard began discovering earlier examples from the 1950's featuring modernistic new look ginghams and safari inspired zany zebra and tiger stripes. But it didn't stop there. Thomas Goodwin Green had bought his pottery in 1851 and a glance through surviving factory catalogues shows the diversity of production. From 1900 onwards, T.G. Green produced classics in ceramics including the novelty Cube teapot and a variety of dinner and tea wares in traditional and modern styles rivalling the work of Clarice Cliff. For Richard and Sally there was a whole new T.G. Greenland out there to explore.

Inevitably they met other Cornish Ware fans including Paul Atterbury with whom Richard collaborated to produce a book charting the historic rise of the blue and white china. Attempting to establish just why blue and white china is an enduring favourite, Sally and Richard eventually agree that it's a natural contrasting colour scheme. Now their handsome dresser groans beneath the weight of Cornish Ware old and new. But the beauty of collecting T.G. Green ceramics is the current availability. The company, now owned by Masoncash, continues to use the same painstaking techniques to produce the established favourites together with innovative new additions and designs. Apart from the distinct look, Cornish Ware retains a tactile quality unmatched by imitative rivals.

Craftsmen still cut the bands freehand on a lathe and etch Domino's polka dots by hand so that each piece delivers a delicate and pleasing surprise to the touch. Richard is charmed that in this hi-tech era, Cornish Ware remains a traditional British company. When they visited the factory, they couldn't believe the chief turner, George Smith was cutting out the white bands by eye. Every piece is made in this way which makes brand new products just as collectable as the early originals.

Richard and Sally's collection continues to grow. Recently Richard discovered some coveted labelled storage jars languishing in a second-hand shop proving that the occasional piece can still be discovered in boot sales and junk shops. Yet original Cornish Ware is becoming increasingly rare. When asked to pick out a favourite, Sally makes an immediate choice. 'Id never part with my labelled storage jars. There's something fundamental about having the name on the pot. It is Cornish Ware's signature." As for Richard, his ambition is to discover a Cornish Ware electric clock circa 1958. Although he has a photograph, the real thing would be the jewel in the crown of his collection. If you have one hanging on the wall, Richard would be green with envy.


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