I while back I found this rather attractive vase at an auction. It was marked A G Harley Jones Wilton Ware and it had a bit of an art nouveau going into deco feel about it but at first I thought it might be a modern copy of something older. I put it on Ebay and described it as best I could and it sold very quickly. The buyer then wrote to me and told me that A G Harley-Jones was actually his grandfather and he was gradually getting a collection of his pottery together.
The buyer wrote this about his grandfather and sent it to me as I thought it would be nice to have something more on Mr Harley Jones as this was quite an attractive piece and his pottery legacy should live on.
“I never knew any of my grandparents, as they were all dead by the time I was four. As an only child, therefore, there was not much talk of families! But my mother used to refer to parts of her childhood with references to the potteries. Although born in Blackpool, she grew up in the Stoke-on-Trent area and there was talk of “pot-banks” in the family. I can remember frequent references to “lustre ware”. I did some family history whilst she was alive, and fortunately extracted some reminiscences from her but I’ve discovered quite a bit more since.
My mother’s Grandfather was William Hiram-Jones (1844 – 1906) and his will of 1896 describes him as an earthenware manufacturer of Stoke-on-Trent. His executors and trustees were his two sons, Thomas William Lear Jones (my Grandfather) and Arthur George Harley Jones (rather more famous in pottery terms) and his son-in-law Albert Leonard Walley (married to his daughter, Jenny Eleanor Evans Jones).
William Hiram Jones married Hannah Lear in Smallthorne (near Stoke-on-Trent) in 1867. He was described as an oil merchant in Manchester and his father was also described as an oil merchant. Hannah Lear’s father, Samuel Lear, was described as a potter and he was also shown as a potter on her 1845 birth certificate (she was born in Norton-le-Moors near Stoke-on-Trent). I possess a jug bearing his initials “SL” and dated 1846 but with no potters marks on the base.
I had some jotted notes from my (long since deceased) mother and it looks as though William HiramJones and Sam Lear were influential in getting Thomas and Arthur to go into the pottery trade. She remembers her father (Thomas) and Arthur discussing transfers on paper sheets for pottery, she thought from Germany, and she was always given unwanted samples to cut out and use for her scrapbook. Her mother told her that her father lost all his money during the strike of 1912 because he would not stock up on coal (she called it a General Strike but it must have been the great unrest of 1911/2 and the national Miners Strike of 1912). Arthur kept going because he stocked up with coal before the strike. Arthur begged Thomas to get coal in but he did not believe a strike would happen. When it did, Thomas lost all his pottery in unfired form in his pot-bank. This was his downfall and he fell on hard times thereafter. My mother correctly remembered that Arthur’s pottery was called the Royal Vienna Art Pottery, which she thought was from about 1907 to 1934, which sounds about right and that it was in Fenton and other addresses. I now realise that Arthur Harley Jones’s work lives on in a modest way and can be found on e-bay! Some of it, like this vase, is still attractive and timeless. Other items, many quite pleasant, are described as lustre-ware, explaining why I heard references to it when young, and yet other items are somewhat larger and rather ugly”
Thanks to Ian Dufour for providing such a wonderful background to his grandfather Arthur Harley Jones’s work as a pottery in the early 20th century. He made some beautiful pottery and it’s lovely to be able to preserve a bit of the history.
For art deco porcelain and china go to www.antikseramika.co.uk