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Colin Melbourne must rank alongside Jessie Tait, John Clappison and Glynn Colledge as one of the most brilliant ceramics designers working in post-war Britain. His CM series is now greatly appreciated, but was too shockingly modern in its time to be a commercial success. The pieces are all marked Beswick, but not all carry the Colin Melbourne facsimile signature or CM monogram. He modelled a series of animals for Midwinter around 1956. His later Petra series for Royal Norfolk (camouflage patterns), and Memphis for Crown Devon (with gold decoration), are also highly innovative. In 1954, he formed a design consultancy with David Queensberry called Drumlanrig Melbourne, and some plates from this era are seen, with abstract patterns and a backstamp of 'Drumlanrig and Melbourne' in white script within a solid black pentagon.

 

Colin Melbourne CM series for Beswick

The shapes were designed by Melbourne in 1956, and decorated by James Hayward. All are earthenware.

 

 

Small cockerel, number 1416
Superb piece, with soft, streamline modelling (typical also of Melbourne's animal pieces for Midwinter in the 1950s), which gives them 'melted' or 'sandblasted' contours. The decoration on the breast is like an oscilloscope trace. Mint condition, only a few scattered, inconspicuous crazing lines on a white area on the back. (in production 1956-65. With the CM series monogram on the underside (see detail, right). Value: £200
 

CM tripod bowl number 1396 (designed 1956)
Beautiful freeform object with turquoise exterior, two peg feet and one hollow foot. The inside of the bowl is decorated with slip trails. Some bowls in this shape carry a Colin Melbourne facsimile signature (this one doesn't). Pristine condition with no damage or crazing. In production from 1957-63.Value: £20-40

 

 

CM Series vase 1392
Designed in 1956 and issued in 1957-63, this vase is an encyclopaedia of mid fifties design, and is one of the most bizarre creations of the time. Similar in form, and in the half-and-half colourway, to the asymmetric vases (1952) by Antonia Campi for the Societ? Ceramica Italiana. It has a freeform, asymmetric, organic shape, with dimples in the surface as though it is melting, and a beaked lip. It is also half-painted in elegant, fifties matt black, and half in pastel blue. To complete the picture, the surface is decorated with abstract, leaf-like motifs. Mint condition, with no damage or crazing, only a few fine scratches to one patch of the black, and a couple of blobs in the black glaze from manufacture. Value: £350

CM series pig
Number 1473, produced 1957-66. With a grey body and red detailing, including slipware white dots on a red band round the shoulders (resembling the 1950s red domino pattern of midwinter). White painted eyes and squirly tail. Mint condition and rare. With faint gold Beswick stamp but no CM mark. Value: £400-500

 

 

 

 

 

 

CM Vase 1399
With beaked lip and orange-brown abstract decoration on chocolate brown matt body. Mint condition. Value: £40-60

 

 

 

CM freeform vase 1398
Designed by Melbourne in 1956, and in production from 1957-63. Seen in various patterns, this one rather cucumber-like. With Colin Melbourne facsimile signature. Mint condition. Value: £75

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colin Melbourne for Royal Norfolk

Norfolk Pottery Co. Ltd., Norfolk St., Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent. Makers of earthenware. Trade name: Royal Norfolk.

 

       

 

 

Petra vase
With camouflage pattern and heavily embossed, caramel coloured collar. Mint except for minute burst glaze bubble in manufacture on lip. Some limescale to interior. Earthenware. Value: £50-70

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colin Melbourne for Bossons (c. 1959)

W. H. Bossons Ltd., Brook Mills, Congleton, Cheshire. Makers of earthenware and "vitreplas"

Spelling: the family and Company name was "Bossons" not "Bosson" or "Bosson's"

 

 

 

Bullfight plaque
To use a real eBay cliché, this is Stunning! W.H. Bossons Ltd made wall plaques and figurines, mostly in chalkware; this piece however is earthenware. The body is white but has an all-over black glaze and red handpainted details.

The quality of this design, issued in 1959 only, is just breathtaking, and you can see that it would have been way ahead of British taste. There was also a Spanish dancer, Liberian dancer and Indian dancer in this series. They have very thin arms and legs and it is a miracle when they survive undamaged, as is fortunately the case with this piece. Backstamp reads Bossons England "Bullfight" 6. For more information, see the comprehensive Bossons site. Value: £75