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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.