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Carlton Ware is loved by retro collectors for its quirky ceramic novelties produced in the 70s and 80s. Some great ones include the bean-bag range (below); a pelican head vase or ashtray; a white soap dish shaped like a bath, with taps; a white 'dustbin' jam pot (c. late 1980s); a 'crocodile' teaset (c. late 1980s); and a sheep mint-sauce boat on a green plate (the 'grass'). These are not highly collected right now.

Roger Michell of Lustre Potter designed the highly successful Walking Ware range (tableware with legs and feet). Roger also designed the 'plug' ashtray. Roger still designs and produces his own pottery ranges; visit his website for more details. Other novelties were designed in the 1970s by Danka Napiorkowska.




Fried egg
From the Hovis range? The yolk can be turned upside down to be used as the egg cup. The cup often has a small spot of glaze-miss where it was held during dipping. Difficult to find undamaged. This one completely mint with no crazing. Value: very variable. One sold for £55 recently, another did not sell at all! This volatility probably means that the number of buyers is very low, but the ones who are out there are very interested.


Burger bun scouring pad holder
A clam-shpaed object in the form of a burger bun. It even has the dimples on top, and a dark-brown painted rim presumably meant to be the burger. It is moulded in one piece, not hinged. Usually described as an ashtray, this novelty was in fact for scouring pads, as revealed by the label on this pair (only one is shown). I found them in the shop Posh Junk in Mitcham, London, in August 2005. They both have labels on top reading: SCOURING PAD HOLDER ALSO FOR WATCHES, RINGS & THINGS CARLTON WARE LTD S-O-T MADE IN ENGLAND. Both have the impressed number 3372 (I think), which dates them to around 1981; and a letter scratched by hand under the glaze into the body (one has a W, the other an E). Unused condition with no damage or crazing. In view of the identification of this item as a kitchen accessory, it is possible that the shark's head below had a similar function. Value: They cost £15 for the pair.




Bath-shaped soap dish
Now we are getting really silly! I love this piece. It is in mint, unused condition. Value: £20




Nail cruets (1980)
Another Lustre Pottery design. Shaped like a pair of nails or tacks. These are both pepper pots. Marked with an underglaze backstamp CARLTON WARE ENGLAND © LUSTRE POTTERY 1980. Value: £5-10


Sheep mint-sauce boat (No. 3321) c. 1978
The backstamp is underglaze, and stopped being used after c. 1978. Presumably for mint sauce and not gravy: there is no handle, and so it would be too hot to pick up if filled with gravy. The green plate represents the 'grass'. Also seen as: biscuit barrel with detachable head; and a toast rack. Value: £7-30 (the lower end is for the sheep only with no plate).

Plug ashtray
Surely one of the most bizarre ceramics items ever produced in England. This large object has a lower bowl, a larger, detachable perforated disc, and a ceramic plug embossed THE CARLTON WARE PLUG ASHTRAY, complete with metal chain. The lower bowl is backstamped Carlton Ware England Lustre Pottery 1980. In mint condition and almost certainly unused (hardly surprising in view of the fact that it is so ungainly in shape). It is a miracle if these survive undamaged. The plug ashtray was part of the Functional Fun range, that included a wing nut vase, nut & bolt salt & pepper, tap teapot, milkshake preserve, ice cream-wafer butter dish, bow-tie cruet and other items. Value: £5-15

Lustre pottery also made a butter dish for Carlton Ware in the shape of a cow in a bathtub (marked LUSTRE POTTERY 1976)


Shark's head scouring pad holder
An eBayer in America tells me that she bought one of these new, and it had a white plastic scrubbing pad in its mouth. Perhaps produced in the wake of the first 'Jaws' film (1975); it carries a backstamp dating it to c. 1968-1978. Value: £5-15.




Bean Bag range (1980)

This wonderful range includes a cruet (2 beans on a piece of ceramic toast), a honey pot (with red bean crawling on top towards a bee), a mug with red bean holding on to the bottom of the striped handle, and red or green beans with chef's hats, holding an egg cup (below). Backstamped: 'Bean Bag Productions 1980'.


For more info on Carlton Ware ranges from the 1970s and 1980s, click here:



Beans-on-toast cruet
What a great, happy piece this is - and one of the high points of British post-war quirky ceramics. Imagine how horrified the bow-tie brigade on the Antiques Roadshow would be if they saw this masterpiece of retro fun. A salt and pepper pot, shaped as smiling beans, sitting on a piece of toast. Mint and possibly unused with no damage or crazing, except for a couple of crazing lines on the underside of the beans, and a small loss of black paint on the 'smile' of the green bean. Value: £30-50.



Egg cup
The red is handpainted over the glaze. One of a pair in unused condition. Also seen in green. One appeared on eBay with no paint at all, only the blue colour and an all-white bean with no face*. Value: £8-20 (each).


*Carlton Ware is sometimes seen undecorated. According to a contact of mine: "Lots of these pieces you see undecorated are from the time the factory closed & are that way because they were unfinished. The crocodiles come without painted eyes from this time. The remaining wares from the stockroom were sold off as they stood & were bought as job lots (often by local traders for relatively small prices) & sold for some time after the factory closed. Thus the later ranges can often be found unfinished."

Carlton Ware Pages1 2 3 4 5