A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Forester Majolica

Forester is one of the best known names in majolica yet most people couldn't identify a piece if it fell in their lap. One of the reasons for this is that Forester marked few of their majolica wares. In fact, much of what we now recognize as Forester is from ads advertising the company. That's unfortunate because their output was prodigious and they deserve recognition for creating many of the wares we see for sale today.

Thomas Forester established the Church Street Majolica works in 1877. After modest early success he demolished the facility two years later to build a significantly larger pottery which he named the Phoenix Works. In 1883 he brought his sons into the business and further expanded his facility into an adjoining factory, nearly doubling his space, making Forester & Sons one of the largest potteries in Stoke-on-Trent. The company specialized in majolica ware but as styles shifted so did the company's output. Though the company continued potting majolica well into the 20th Century they expanded their line to include fine china and art pottery. These eventually became the mainstay of the pottery and remained so until the pottery closed in 1959.

Forester majolica is erratic in its quality with few pieces ever reaching the level of sophistication or quality of the larger potteries. Their designs are rather basic, often exhibiting many of the same influences as other ceramics of their day, but simpler and more rustic in execution. Still, many of their wares are beautiful and will be recognizable to most collectors.

Because of their prolific output, most Forester majolica is relatively easy to find. It was inexpensive when it was new and remains inexpensive today. If you're lucky enough to find a marked piece expect to pay about 50% more than an unmarked example.

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