Friday 4 March 2022

Chameleon Ware at Auction

Our 3rd March Auction saw a lovely collection of Chameleon Ware for sale.  Made in Staffordshire this art glazed pottery was first given the name Chameleon Ware in 1914.  Said to derive from the changes in the glaze colours during firing.  One of the key creative personnel at the George Clews Company who made Chameleon Ware, was David Capper, he worked hard on the production of 'artistic pottery' at affordable prices.  He saw the much admired Ruskin pottery of the 1900's which was hand made and expensive and saw an opportunity to produce in commercial quantities similar pieces but at a fraction of the cost.  David Capper returned to the Clews factory in the 1920's after being wounded in the First World War and it was from then on that the bold hand painted designs were introduced.  These distinctive designs along with the semi-matt glazes so characteristic of Chameleon Ware became very successful.

In 1926 a gold medal and diploma were awarded at the Philadelphia Exhibition for "originality of design" and a year later, the Pottery Gazette reported that after fourteen years of experiment and experience with Chameleon Ware, "Clews offer a line of ornamental wares which, from the dual aspect of price and quality, is exceptional". Chameleon Ware went on to become 80% of the factory's output.

The early 1930's saw the introduction of glazed animal shapes, mostly in a mottled or vermilion splashed green. The majority of these were reptilian and intended as garden or conservatory novelties. They included a chameleon on a log, lion, frog, bear and even a winged dragon, all of which are now very collectable.

Clews continued and expanded its mainstay production of teapots (including the famous Cube teapot produced under licence for the Cunard Line) and other table wares. These lines were retained when the outbreak of war in 1939 caused a major re-organisation of the whole ceramics industry, but, sadly at this point, the production of the vibrant and original hand-painted Chameleon Wares ceased forever. Percy Clews died in 1942 and despite attempts to modernise production and find a new direction after the war, the company faltered and eventually went into liquidation in 1961.

Lot 11 sold £40

Lot 37 sold £70

Lot 31 sold £90

Lot 46 sold £160

Lot 53 sold £100

Lot 35 sold £80

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