The Great Ocean Liners Potter

The popularity of cruise holidays has grown in recent years and represents a continuation of a great elegant tradition, that of the great ocean liners of the late 19th and early 20th Century. Opulence was the word from luxurious fabrics to state of the art gadgets combined with the best dining experience and sumptuous state-rooms, the great age of the ocean liners was truly a Bishop & Stonier Water Jug and Bowl 1playground for the well healed traveler. Obviously only the best was good enough and this applied to everything, including the china. One major supplier of china to the luxury shipping industry was the company Bishop and Stonier. The company Bishop and Stonier was formed by William Livesley, Edwin Powell and Fredrick Bishop under the name of Livesley Powell & Co in 1851. Livesley and Powell were both potters, but Bishop was a lawyer who funded the operation. Much of their wares were shipped to the USA, for example in 1851 over one million items were recorded as having been shipped to New York. On Livesley’s retirement in 1866 the company name changed to Powell and Bishop. In 1878 Powell and Bishop were joined by John Stonier. John Stonier was a glass and china merchant based in Liverpool who had built up a considerable business fitting out the great liners of the day, including the ships of the White Star Line. In 1891 Stonier formed a new company with Duncan Watson Bishop using the trade mark Bisto incorporating the first two letters of both their names along with the Wand of Caduceus. Their advertising slogan was “The sun never sets on Bisto ware” and of course this implied a link with Bisto ware and the glamour of the great liners plying the oceans of the world. Stonier and Co was the supplier of china for the Titanic and unsurprisingly Bisto ware featured highly on board the ill-fated ship, including plates carrying the small pattern used in 1st Class along with the Delft pattern and Flow pattern used in 2nd Class. By the 1920s many producers of pottery had started to experiment with more flamboyant patterns and colours. Bisto was amongst these and produced a number of quite eye catching art deco bathroom sets (Figure 1) along with the now famed Aztec ware. Bisto was sold to George Jones & Sons in 1933 and they continued to use the Bisto mark until 1939. For more details about the china aboard the Titanic see “A look at the china patterns used on Titanic“. For more details about Bishop & Stonier marks see the Potters Index.

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