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3 best New Zealand-made ceramic brands to look out for in a vintage store

We love vintage and New Zealand-made items, so naturally vintage locally made pieces are twice as nice! Here are some local ceramics brands to look for at secondhand shops

3 best New Zealand-made ceramic brands to look out for in a vintage store

In 1964, Helen Mason, editor of The New Zealand Potter magazine, wrote in Salient (the Victoria University student newspaper), that “the tremendous interest today in the ancient art of pottery-making can perhaps be construed as a revolt against the cushioning effect of over-civilisation”.

This statement still rings true today, as a new wave of ceramicists emerges and interest in last century’s ceramics continues to thrive. Here we celebrate three of the country’s most renowned pottery companies.

1. Crown Lynn

Crown Lynn is known for its colourful dinnerware, tea sets and iconic vases. Arguably New Zealand’s most recognisable ceramics company, Crown Lynn is actually made up of a number of subsidiaries and brands. The New Lynn, Auckland factory, which started out as the Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Company, produced ceramics from 1935 until 1989.

Now, the museum Te Toi Uku, operated by the Portage Ceramics Trust, keeps the brand alive. When op-shopping, visiting markets or searching on Trade Me, look out for other Crown Lynn labels, too, including Ambrico, Titian and Kelston. Some pieces will also simply be marked ‘Made in NZ’ or stamped with a number. Portageceramicstrust.co.nz has an excellent digital catalogue of Crown Lynn pieces if you want to check the authenticity of an item.

2. Temuka Pottery

Temuka Pottery, which began production in 1931, is still going strong today. The brand is named after its location in Temuka, Canterbury (although the range of tableware is now produced in Palmerston North).

Temuka’s iconic brown stoneware dinner sets, produced in the 1970s, continue to be sought after. In the 1990s, there were a number of Temuka Pottery stores around the country, including in Auckland, Rotorua, Dunedin and, of course, Temuka. You can still visit the shop in Temuka, as well as find pieces at secondhand stores, or online at temukapottery.co.nz.

3. Timaru Potteries

Timaru Potteries, originally called the South Canterbury Pottery and Mining Company, produced pieces from the 1930s until its closure in 1959, using clay from Mt Somers, north of Timaru. During the Second World War, the company supplied the government with crocks and demijohns (ceramic jars and bottles) to transport petrol and ointments to overseas troops.

At the end of the war, Timaru Potteries moved into more decorative items, such as sturdy casseroles, mixing bowls, mugs and vases, which can still be found on the secondhand circuit today. A 2008 exhibition at the South Canterbury Museum recognised the lasting impact of the brand.

Words by: Fiona Ralph.

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