Those controversial ginger jars

Rosemary Deane catalogued the Richard Quinn collection for the Portage Ceramics Trust in 2008-09. Richard Quinn’s collection was amassed over years from various sources including digs at the site of the Crown Lynn factory.

ginger-jar-story-2008.1.187.1b

When we were cataloguing the collection of Richard Quinn, we came to some ginger jars. We had not seen anything like them before and we had to catalogue them. Were they made by Crown Lynn or not? The backstamp made us think they were made in China. A quick trip next door to the English Language school I learned that “Kienhua China” and the symbol on the base both meant “Made in China” so that didn’t help.

We knew that Tom Clark, the managing director of Crown Lynn Potteries, had made ginger jars as he had mentioned it in an interview with Gail Henry and we knew he put random things like “British” on his products, so anything was possible. There were a few in the collection. The colours mostly seemed to match other items known to be made by Crown Lynn and the clay seemed similar too. We trusted that Richard Quinn knew what he was doing when he found these ginger jars when trawling op shops.

Eventually when we were nearing the end of the project we started to catalogue the shards that Richard Quinn had dug from behind the factory. These included some shards from ginger jars. This seemed to be the proof we needed that the ginger jars were made by Crown Lynn. This shard in particular shows that there was a glaze defect and why it was thrown away.

ginger-shard

In the last year or two there has been a lot of discussion between collectors about the source of the ginger jars and some examples with “Crown Lynn” on the base have come to light. This seemed to be pretty conclusive, but some people then suggested that Crown Lynn bought them from China and stamped them with their own backstamp. Some other people suggested that ‘fakes’ were made in recent times. Another possibility is that Crown Lynn copied the Chinese versions, but there is no evidence that there is any difference between those with the two backstamps.

Hopefully the shard that Richard Quinn dug up will put to an end the debate about the production of these jars, and Crown Lynn is finally given the credit for the production of them.