A Portmeirion Gray's Sunderland Style Covered Butter Dish with Shells Design By Susan Williams Ellis.
This is an extremely rare piece of sunderland-style lustre ware with Susan Williams-Ellis's hand drawn Shells design. Susan designed this fantastic pattern of hand drawn shells and crabs herself.
This stunning covered butter dish was made exclusively for the prestigious Mottahedeh department store in the United States of America. The store is based in New York City and started in 1922 and is still trading today. They specialize in unique, small run European ceramics.
The butter dish is in exceptionally good condition and an extremely rare piece of very early Portmeirion pottery. It carries the Gray's backstamp.
This design is one of the earliest and rarest of all and they so rarely come up for sale.
4.75 in (12 cm)
x 3.75 in (9.5 cm)
x 3 in (7.5 cm) to top of handle
6.25 in (16 cm) x 5.25 in (13.5 cm)
In 1953, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis asked his daughter Susan and her husband Euan to take over the running of the gift shop in Portmeirion Village, North Wales. In 1958 Susan decided to start commissioning her own items to sell, such as her Sunderland-style lustreware souvenirs. These included tea caddies, pin dishes, jugs, lidded jars, trinket trays and a small amount of bowls, teapots and cups and saucers. Most of the pieces bear the yellow Gray's backstamp, but once Susan bought the company they can be found with Portmeirion Ware backstamps. The items were initially decorated with black and white engravings of Welsh ladies and Welsh scenes and then ships and a nautical compass. Susan also designed a collection of beautiful shells and fish which she personally hand drew. Susan also started selling them in her new shop in Pont Street, London, which she shared with her cousin. The Sunderland-style, splattered, lustre glaze was produced by brushing purple or pink glaze onto an item and then flicking turpentine on the drying glaze to create the splattered effect. The items were then covered in a gold lustre glaze, creating a fabulously soft gold/coppery lustre. This dirty and messy technique produced random and unique patterns on every piece of pottery and are very sought after and eagerly collected. The extreme rarity of Susan's beautiful Sunderland-style pieces now command high prices as they feature so early in the history of Portmeirion and there are so few of them around!