Persindo Ware: Its Origin and a History of Birks, Rawlins & Co.

Our November Fine Art auction will be featuring some wonderful Persindo ware pieces by Birks, Rawlins & Co. Here is the story of this venerable company and the origin of Persindo ware.

Lawrence Birks, cousin of Alboin Birks, was a skilled pâte-sur-pâte decorator employed at Minton. He was originally apprenticed to Marc-Louis Emmanuel Solon, a particularly renowned French ceramic artist and master of the pâte-sur-pâte style of decoration. After 22 years employed at Minton, producing acclaimed pâte-sur-pâte pieces, Lawrence then joined up with his brother-in-law Charles Goodfellow. Together, they set up the Vine Pottery, situated off Summer Street, in 1894. Operating as L.A. Birks & Co, with the addition of Adolphus J. Rawlins as part of the company, they began small-scale production of fine bone china tableware. When production allowed, Lawrence would still occasionally continue to produce pâte-sure-pâte plaques. Goodfellow would retire after four years, but the company would continue, changing its name to Birks, Rawlins & Co in 1900.

This collection of Persindo Ware vases is to be featured in our November Fine Art sale. Lot 645, estimate £40-£80.

Then, in 1901, the company took on a designer by the name of Edmund G Reuter. After a few years employed there, he introduced a Middle Eastern-inspired decoration, known as Persindo ware. The pattern comprised repeated floral motifs and patterns, sometimes with geometric aspects, and predominantly used a combination of reds, blues, greens and yellows on a white background. According to Reuter himself, his inspiration came from Persian, Indian and Egyptian wares.  The distinctive decorative pattern was well-received and gained in popularity, which, in turn, attracted new designers to the company.

Another lovely collection of Persindo Ware pieces is this Lot, to be featured in our November Fine Art auction. Lot 646, estimate £40-£80.

Beyond the iconic Persindo ware, the mid Nineteen-O’s also saw the introduction of a ‘Bread and Butter’ ware, known as Savoy Crest China. This was brought in with the specific intention of competing with another popular ceramic producer, W.H. Goss.

A Savoy Crest China jug. Image credit:

Through the 1910s, Birks, Rawlins & Co earned a number of accolades, including patronage from Queen Mary and three Diplomas of Honour: The first for a display of fine white china tableware, vases, trinkets and pâte-sur-pâte wares at the 1911 Turin Exhibition; the second, for a pâte-sur-pâte vase decorated with giant lobsters and seaweed at the Ghent International Exhibition in 1913; the third was awarded at the 1915 San Francisco Exhibition, again for pâte-sur-pâte.

An example of a pâte-sur-pâte plaque. Image credit:

The business’ good fortune was not to last, however: The company encountered financial difficulty, having struggled to regain buoyancy after the 1926 National Strike and were purchased by Wiltshaw & Roberts, operating at the Carlton Works, in 1928. Now known as Birks, Rawlins & Co. Ltd, Wiltshaw & Roberts took on many of their patterns and shapes, while adding a many of their own. A new mark, ‘The Original Birks China’ was also introduced, as well as a new formulation in conjunction with the ‘Carlton’ trade name, to try and breathe new life into the business.

Birks, Rawlins & Co. Ltd emerged into the 1930s, but continued to struggle. The end would come with the company merging with Wiltshaw and Robinson and the closure of the Vine Pottery in 1933, in the throes of the Great Depression.

How to Sell Persindo Ware or Birks, Rawlins & Co Pottery at Auction

Do you have Vine Pottery pieces or Persindo ware to sell? Our team of experts can provide accurate auction estimates and recommend the best auction for your items. We hold valuation days every Tuesday. Email us for an appointment at or call us on +44 (0)1782 638100 Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm. If you can't come in and see us in person but would like to submit items for auction or valuation, send us an email with details and a photograph (e.g. edition, style, measurements, condition) and one of our experts will provide information and auction estimates. We can also arrange home visits, by appointment.

Mabel Lucie Attwell and Her Connection to Shelley China

In our Fine Art auction this November, we’ll be featuring a range of intriguing and valuable Shelley figures, including Boo Boos, designed by the illustrator Mabel Lucie Atwell, who had a long and successful career, producing work for magazines, children’s books and advertisements. Here’s the story of Attwell’s life and work, and how her designs came to be produced by the popular china company.

Born to a butcher, Augustus Attwell and his wife Emily Ann, she was their sixth child. She was privately educated at the Coopers’ Company School and at the Regent Street school. Mabel then studied at Heatherley’s School of Fine Art, as well as Saint Martin’s School of Art. However, due to her dislike of the emphasis on still-life drawing and classical subjects and her desire to pursue her interest in imaginary subjects, she left.

This poster designed by Attwell was one of a number of advertisements she produced for the London Underground. (Image credit:

Her early career revolved around magazine illustration, with work she had produced for magazines Tatler and The Bystander leading her to being taken on by agents Francis and Mills. Early works were broadly derivative of several of her peers, including her friend Hilda Cowham. Other contributions to magazines included The Daily Graphic and The Illustrated London News.

1900 saw her begin to receive book illustration commissions from the likes of W & R Chamber and the Raphael House Library of Gift Books. Through the 1910s, Attwell provided illustrations for a number of classic children’s titles, such as Mother Goose (1910), Alice in Wonderland (1911), Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales (1914), The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley (1915) and a 1921 edition of Peter Pan and Wendy.

Attwell's work even garnered the interest of Queen Marie of Romania, herself a writer of children’s books, who invited Attwell to stay for a time at the royal palace in Bucharest. She would illustrate 2 long stories written by Queen Marie, published by Hodder and Stoughton.

This illustration sold at Christie’s in 2012 for £1,375. (Image credit:

Alongside her book and magazine illustrations, in 1914 Attwell introduced a particular graphic style of cutesy, cuddly-looking infants, which found themselves marketed on all sorts of items, from greetings cards and calendars, to nursery equipment and pictures, crockery and dolls.

In the 1920s, Mabel wrote her own series of children’s stories, about little fairies in green suits called Boo Boos. Her pictures from these stories would become her most recognisable series of illustrations, and they were further reproduced on postcards.

This Boo Boo figure is one of several Shelley figures by Mabel Lucie Attwell to be featured in our November Fine Art auction. Lot 860, estimated at £75-£150.

Then, in 1926, Shelley Potteries entered the picture. Having already seen success with pieces decorated with designs by Hilda Cowham, they approached Mabel and commissioned her to produce designs for children’s nursery ware, which comprised six plates decorated with Boo Boos scenes. She then designed a Boo Boos-themed tea set. The response to her designs for Shelley was positive, with Pottery Gazette declaring them “a truly irresistible range of nursery ware, altogether in advance of what was usually put before the trade.”

Another Boo Boo figure to be featured in our November Fine Art auction, seated and holding an acorn. Lot 861, estimate £75-£150.

This success led to the production of her infant and Boo Boo designs as figures by Shelley, from 1937 onwards. They continued in production into the 1960s, until, in 1966, Shelley China Ltd became part of Allied English Potteries and production of Shelley ware ceased.

Mabel Lucie Attwell died in 1964, but her illustrations endure and items featuring her work are still produced today.

There’s also a good variety of Attwell’s infant figures to be offered in our November Fine Art sale. Lot 851: This figure group ‘Our Pets’ is estimated £200-£400.

You can view all the Shelley China pieces we'll be featuring in our November Fine Art auction here

How to Sell Shelley or Mabel Lucie Attwell Items at Auction

Do you have Mable Lucie Atwell or Shelley items to sell? Our friendly team can advise you and provide auction estimates. We hold valuation days every Tuesday at our Silverdale premises. Simply email us for an appointment at or call us on +44 (0)1782 638100 Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm.

If you can't attend in person, but would like to submit items for valuation, send us an email with details and a photograph (eg make, model, model number, measurements, condition) and one of our experts will provide information and auction estimates. Alternatively, give us a call to arrange a home visit appointment.

Louis_Taylor_Fine_Art_WhiteArtboard 1

Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers

Established in 1877, Louis Taylor Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers have offered clients personal, professional and a highly specialised service for many years.

Get in Touch

Silverdale Saleroom, Unit 4a, Silverdale Enterprise Park, Newcastle, Staffordshire, ST5 6SS

The Cobridge Saleroom, 271 Waterloo Road, Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 3HR

Copyright 2022 Louis Taylor Fine Art ©  All Rights Reserved