Cash in the attic: Sunflower Pottery

The Sunflower Pottery was founded by a member of the landed gentry, Sir Edmund Harry Elton (1846-1920). Elton inherited his uncle's title and estate at Clevedon in 1883 and founded a pottery at around the same time. Although he designed and potted many of the designs himself, he also employed an assistant, George Masters, to help him.

Due to his wealth and connections in society and business, Elton was able to solve many problems inherent in founding a small pottery by visiting other successful ceramics factorie and learning from their example.

Sunflower pottery is known for red-earthenware forms decorated with gold- or silver-crackle glaze

Sunflower pottery is best-known for simple red-earthenware forms, decorated with lustrous gold- or silver-crackle glaze. These pieces were produced primarily between 1902 and 1912. Platinum-coloured glazes tend to be rarer than gold. Earlier pieces had been more traditional forms, decorated with carved and applied floral and foliate designs on a smooth, glossy blue or dark-green ground.

What to look for

Many pieces are signed 'Elton' on the base, although some of these marks were lost during the glazing process, meaning genuine pieces may appear to be unmarked.

All Sunflower Pottery wares are fragile. Before buying, make sure you examine any piece carefully for signs of damage or restoration, as both reduce value considerably.

Elton's work and place in British ceramic history has recently been reappraised and values are rising.

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