This article on Bakewells Pottery tries to cover off the History of Bakewell Brothers Sydney, their Product Range, and Prices and Availability of their products to the best of my knowledge. I would love to hear your comments, or any knowledge you can add.
This was my first article for the website. I collect Blue & White striped Bakewell’s Pottery bowls and jugs myself, so it was an easy choice.
When I started to research the article I found lots of information and pictures on the internet but there was no one source that had all the information I would have liked to see. So I have pulled information together from the sources and added my own insights and photos. I have updated this article regularly to reflect information from new sources (including people and books).
History of Bakewell Pottery
Bakewell Pottery operated in Erskineville Sydney NSW Australia from 1884-1955.
“Bakewell Brothers Ltd was established by William Bakewell, born in England in Nottingham county, who began making bricks and pipes on the Erskineville site in around 1884. The firm gradually developed to include the manufacture of tiles, pots, jars and other domestic and commercial wares.” (ref 3)
Unusual items produced included medical items like inhalers and urinals. They also produced some tourist wares and terracotta busts (including Cpt James Cook).
They started to make domestic pottery early in the 1890s.
All early marks feature the name ‘Bakewell’. Later ink-stamped marks are ‘Beulah Ware’, ‘Newtone Art Ware’ or ‘Trent Art Ware’. Stickers were also use on some pieces. Not all pieces are marked. (ref 1)
I believe that all Bakewell Pottery pieces are considered collectable. The most sought after are hand-painted Newtone pots signed by Daisy Merton (see picture above). In Mar 2019 I saw one go on eBay for ~$480. I have also become aware of a rare Trent Art Ware ‘Art Deco’ Tea Set (ref 5) that commands an even higher price tag (see picture above). You could start your own collection for as little as $20 just by watching out at local charity stores and trash and treasure markets.
Product Range for the Bakewell Pottery
“In 1891 the Bakewell Pottery started to produce domestic pottery including a wide range of Bristol and cane ware.” Bristol Ware is hard paste white porcelain and Cane Ware is buff or tan coloured stoneware. This range included chamber pots in white and pastels.
“From 1905 to 1914 they produced earthenware table and toilet wares decorated with transfer designs.” (ref 2) (see jug picture above). “Some had Australian flowers, but more were thoroughly English in patterns. The earliest group printed in green or sepia is not usually marked – except sometimes for the pattern name and no more.” (ref 5) The range included dinner plates, jugs, large lidded tureens and sauce tureens with ladle and stand.
Beulah Ware appeared about 1925 and was produced until about 1939 (ref 7). This range included casserole dishes (see picture below), a 5 piece canister set (see picture below), and pastel graduated jugs with raised lines (like those on the canisters) and elegant handles. Some of the canister sets are marked Beulah Ware and some are marked only with the standard Bakewell’s ink stamp. The canisters came in pastels (lemon, butter, light blue, turquoise, light green, grey) and darker colours (mid-green, maroon).
In March 2017, M. Wadey the great-grand-daughter of William Bakewell was kind enough to send me a photo of her prized piece of Beulah Ware, a blue lidded casserole dish (see photo below). Her grand-mother’s name was Beulah. I have never seen another piece like it or another piece with the same Beulah Ware ink stamp.
The Bakewell Pottery started to produce under the name Newtone Art Ware in the 1930s and continued till the late 1940s (ref 6). A large range of decorative vases was produced in a great variety of shapes and colour-ways. Most of the pieces I have seen appear to be slipware with hand applied glazes, including drip-glazing. Some glazed vases and jugs had embossed gum leaves and kookaburras. In addition to vases, the Newtone range included basket vases, shoe shaped vases, mugs, wall pockets and footed bowls.
Newtone also included hand-painted pieces with Australian flowers and scenery. Some vases with bush scenes, kookaburras and wild flowers (pictured at top) were painted by Daisy Victoria Merton (DV Merton) and signed (see photo below). Newtone also included figurines of kookaburras on stumps, serviette rings and ashtrays, and figurines of koalas on branches. The kookaburra figurines were painted by a Miss Mitchell but not signed and also Joy Jasman who did sign them (ref 5). Painted wares continued briefly after 1945 and include small dishes in the shape of Australia (ref 5).
Most of he later Trent Art Ware range produced from around 1950 does not appear to me to be very different from the Newtone pieces. The range also included gum leaf wall vases, basket vases and jugs with raised gum leaves.
One of the exceptions to this is the Pontiac Tea Set (blue pot, sugar and creamer on a tray) (pictured at top) which had strong Art Deco styling, suggesting that it may have predated the rest of this range (ref 6 suggests 1937). I have seen pictures of this tea set in bright green, brown and cream shaded, light green, and blue on a black tray.
Another exception is the range of pieces produced after 1955 by a former Bakewell’s employee. Norman Nathan Hielman (1895-1969) who produced pieces in a ‘little factory’ above his garage in Bexley. These sometimes had the ‘Trent Art Ware’ sticker or were incised by hand with ‘TRENT Sydney’ or ‘Bexley’ and with a number. These pieces were often hand-painted, although his grand-daughter in a comment to this page said ‘he did lovely glazes’ too.
From what I have seen, Bakewell Pottery don’t seem to have been following rules about which ink stamp or product range name they used on their items. I say this because I have decorative pieces that are the same colour-ways and are marked differently, and pieces that are the same shape that are marked differently.
There was also a range of glazed stoneware electric jug bodies for Hecla (see photo above) and ashtrays marked with the common Bakewell’s ink stamp.
Bakewells Pottery also produced a large range of glazed earthenware kitchen pottery that goes largely unmentioned in the texts I have read, and yet forms a significant volume of the collectable stock and photos on line. I am, of course, talking about the striped and plain bowls, jugs, teapots and coffee pots that were used in earnest in most homes in Australia from the 1930s. These high utility items appear to be consistently labelled with the common Bakewell’s ink stamp. This range also included white plates.
I am curious to know which colours and styles of the kitchen pottery are oldest, but have not found a good reference for this yet.
The striped bowls and jugs came in both green and blue, but the exact colour of the glaze and the clay used varies, so it can be a challenge to put together a tidy set from individually found pieces. I believe that there are 3 different sizes in the jugs and 6 different sizes in the bowls with the largest having a pouring lip.
I did own a full set of green striped bowls for a while (see photo above), but when I decided to focus on blue striped, I let them go, from the Robertson Shop, reportedly, to a descendant of the Bakewell’s family. I think that this was very good Karma.
The pinstriped blue bowls are my favourite, but I haven’t seen enough of them to know all the sizes and shapes. Most of these items have the common ink stamp (see picture above) but the round jug (centre of picture) is marked ‘REGO 1460S’ only.
Bakewell’s Pottery produced pastel jugs in several different designs and sizes, and a range colours.
The stubby jugs (pictured here) come in off-white, lemon, green (also lemon with a green edge) and blue and have 4 sizes. I have recently added the blue ones to my collection.
The odd blue jug with the horizontal bands (pictured here) also comes in other colours too.
There is a deco styled with sets of 5 graduated vertical lines on the side (like the canisters), and another with a recessed handle (see unbranded below).
The pastel bowls made at the Bakewell Pottery came in a couple of styles and a range of colours also. I have had many different sized off-white pudding bowls through my hands and have also seen these in lemon. Additionally I have had lemon mixing bowls with a pouring lip in 2 sizes and I have seen the same thing in lemon with a green top edge and I think also in plain green.
The MAAS(ref 3) has a 3 piece nesting mixing bowls in saffron from 1950.
Teapots were also made, like the small white one pictured at the beginning of this article, but also in pastels like the stubby jugs and the MAAS collection includes a multi-colour pot. I have seen pictures of several sizes including a taller ‘coffee’ pot.
Unbranded Bakewell Pottery
Bakewell also produced unbranded items and items just with stickers (which would wear off). Some unbranded items jugs are pictured below.
The two fridge jugs pictured below were found the at separate markets and they are unbranded. A member of the Bakewell family with the same jug in green, which she calls a ‘fridge jug’, was able to confirm that these were Bakewell jugs. The painting on the smaller jug is under the glaze and signed on the base “Else”.
The unbranded ‘banded’ milk jugs, I have had in my collection for years. Each of these has some damage but I hung onto them because I liked them. It turns out that these are accepted Bakewell jugs too. The largest is 18cm tall.
Also in my collection for about 30 years is the large blue bread crock pictured below (sadly no lid). I have never seen another like it and am going to go out on a limb and claim it to be a Bakewell item because it is so like my pinstripe bowls (above).
Aug 2020: A 15 cm off-white “Bakewell Brothers” pudding bowl at a local charity store for $3.
Mar 2019: A 10 cm dark blue “Newtone” drip-glazed vase at my local Trash & Treasure market for 50c (see photo above). It does have a star crack in the base.
Jul 2018: Another unbranded Fridge Jug. This time a small cream hand-painted one at a market for $4 (see photo above).
Oct 2017: A 15 cm light blue “Bakewell Brothers” pudding bowl at my local Trash & Treasure market for $1 (see photo above).
May 2017: A large medium blue unbranded Fridge Jug at a market for $4. It was a year before I found out it was made by Bakewell’s (see photo above).
Prices and Availability (Mar 2019)
When collecting only you can decide how much you really want to pay for a piece. You may be quite happy to pay the going ‘shop’ rate for a piece you have been looking for for a long time, or if it is the missing piece from your collection.
If you want to find the decorative pieces of Newtone or Trent in your chosen colour-ways, I think you can still pay reasonable prices on eBay. Most op-shops know their pottery/china brands and will price them up even if they are chipped, but you can still get lucky, even though I can’t recall picking up a piece in the last year. Every few months I see or buy a piece for $5-$20 at a second-hand market.
30 years ago when I first started collecting Bakewells bowls and jugs, I could pick up a piece every few months for around $5. I slowly got rid of the damaged pieces and unwanted colours and refined my collection to the pieces I like most. These days I occasionally see an off-white pudding bowl at a market, but can only think of picking up one coloured jug at a bargain price in the last year.
Clearly people are more educated about the desirability of these items. The minimum price for a coloured bowl or jug appears to be about $20 (eBay, op-shop, market or vintage store) and the most I have seen for a large striped jug is $120 (vintage store). The $120 jug was excessive in my view and you should be able to pick up undamaged items for $20-$50 each if you are prepared to spend the time hunting.
NB: I have not mentioned Garage Sales, as I have not been going to them regularly for years.
Insert book images
- “Australian Artware Pottery”, William & Dorothy Hall, 1996, Crown Castleton Publishers, Australia
- “Australian Domestic Pottery – A Collector’s Guide”, William & Dorothy Hall, 1992, Kangaroo Press, Australia
- MAAS Power House Museum Collection Database https://collection.maas.museum/ search ‘Bakewells’
- Historic Houses Trust Collections (for Bakewell Brothers)
- “Australian Pottery of the 19th & early 20th Century”, Marjorie Graham, 1979, The David Ell Press, Australia
- National Gallery of Victoria https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/86110/
- Australian Pottery 1800’s to the Modern Day http://www.aussiepottery.com/ search ‘Newtone’
- Antiques Reporter https://www.antiquesreporter.com.au/ search ‘Bakewells’
Please have a look at the retro homewares in my shop.. SHOP