Moorcroft Pottery

Potter William Moorcroft was born in 1872 in Burslem, Staffordshire, England. He studied art in Burslem and London before joining James Macintyre & Co. as a pottery designer in 1897. Within a year, Moorcroft took direction of the firm's art pottery studio. He focused initially on Victorian-style Aurelian Ware featuring transfer-printed and enameled decoration in vibrant hues of red, blue, and gold.

Over time, Moorcroft produced original high-luster glazes and employed Asian-influenced designs and motifs. His first major innovation, however, was the Art Nouveau-inspired Florian Ware line, featuring floral patterns in subtle colors achieved through heavy slip and translucent glazes. Florian Ware is marked by its intricate hand decoration, often incorporating poppies, tulips, and other flowers. At the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, Moorcroft's Florian Ware designs for James Macintyre & Co. received rave reviews. While an uncommon practice, Moorcroft personally signed almost all of the pottery that he designed. This, combined with Moorcroft's growing reputation after the St. Louis World's Fair, led to resentment on the part of his colleagues and employers. In 1912, James Macintyre & Co. opted to close Moorcroft's pottery studio and terminated its star designer.

William Moorcroft started his own pottery works in 1913 at Cobridge with a group of former coworkers from James Macintyre & Co. This venture was supported with funds from Liberty & Co. of London, which secured a partial ownership stake in the company and retailed Moorcroft Pottery along with Tiffany & Co. in New York City. Further bolstering the firm's reputation, Queen Mary declared William Moorcroft "Potter to the Queen" via a Royal Warrant in 1928. This assignation was thenceforth stamped on all Moorcroft Pottery.

Along with Florian Ware, there are various early 20th century lines that Moorcroft Pottery collectors value. Not long after William Moorcroft founded his company, Hazledene became prevalent, depicting trees in shades of soft blue and green on a yellowish cream ground, and gained prominence in the 1920s as the demand for landscape pottery grew. The Moonlit Blue series was developed in the late 1910s and showcases a rich blue ground with blue-green trees rendered in a rounded, stylized manner. In contrast to Moonlit Blue, the Eventide line offers a warmer color palette in red, amber, brown, and gold, but it also features trees set in landscapes.

William Moorcroft's son Walter joined the pottery at age twenty and assumed control of the business in 1945 shortly before William's passing. Moorcroft Pottery continued to prosper such that the Royal Warrant was renewed in 1946. This allowed Walter Moorcroft to buy out Liberty & Co. to obtain full ownership at last. Unfortunately, the high cost of materials and labor eventually forced the sale of Moorcroft Pottery in the 1980s. Walter Moorcroft stayed on as director until 1987 while the business shifted to mass production. After rebranding as Moorcroft Design Studio in 1998, the company was able to stabilize and is still operating today as W. Moorcroft Ltd.

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