Johnson Brothers Ningpo bowl - c.1939
The Wedgwood Museum's collections include not only pieces of Wedgwood but also items made by Wedgwood's subsidiary firms, both before and after their amalgamation into the Wedgwood Group. This Johnson Brothers bowl from the 1930s is in their Ningpo pattern.
The Wedgwood Museum's collections include not only pieces of Wedgwood but also items made by Wedgwood's subsidiary firms, both before and after their amalgamation into the Wedgwood Group. This Johnson Brothers bowl from the 1930s is in their Ningpo pattern. Made from cream coloured earthenware it features a floral design hand-painted on-glaze.
- Type of object: Dessert ware/bowl
- Mark: Old Staffordshire
[Printed in blue]
[Painted in gold]
[Painted in grey]
[Painted in green]
- Year produced: c.1939
- Body: Queen's ware, cream-coloured earthenware
- Glaze: cream
- Material: ceramic
- Decoration: hand-enamelled, transfer-printed, edge-lined
- Accession number: 13712d
- Dimensions: 236 mm (diameter), 72 mm (height)
The four original 'Johnson Brothers' were Alfred, Frederick, Henry and Robert. Their father had married the daughter of master potter Alfred Meakin. In 1883, Alfred and Frederick began production in the Charles Street Works - a defunct pottery that they had bought up in a bankruptcy sale in Hanley. The factory specialised in the production of a durable earthenware called 'White Granite'. Success with this product led to rapid expansion with brother Henry joining the firm in 1888, followed by fourth brother Robert 10 years later.
The brothers enhanced their reputation for producing basic whiteware by developing a product known as 'semi-porcelain'. This range of earthenware had the characteristics of fine china, with the durability of Ironstone. It was welcomed especially in overseas markets because of it's durability and low cost.
The Hanley Pottery opened in 1889, and the Alexander Pottery 2 years later in 1891. The Trent Sanitary Works opened in 1896, and Alfred left the company to set up his own pottery. Robert relocated to New York to oversee the rapid expansion of business in North America.
During the 1930's, the original Charles Street factory closed down, as it had been outdated by the arrival of modern technology which included new firing systems that relied on electricity rather than coal.
World War II nearly halted production with overseas shipments becoming almost impossible. The post-war period saw a major overhaul of all facilities, with plants in Canada, Australia and Britain being purchased for decorating, glazing and firing pots.
The late 1960's saw a change in popular taste and together with rising competition and spiralling production costs prevented any further expansion of the company. In order to remain competitive, Johnson Brothers joined the Wedgwood Group in 1968. Several popular and successful product ranges enabled further restructuring of the company and expansion into new markets. The Hanley Pottery closed in 1995 and was soon demolished.At the same time, a major revision of all products led to a rationalisation and reduction in the number of patterns produced.
In 2000 production was moved temporarily to the J & G Meakin Eagle Pottery Works. In 2003 production ceased completely in the UK and was transferred to China where production costs were 70% less than in Britain. Eagle Pottery was demolished in 2005.