Tuesday, 2nd June 2020
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This Month's Magazine

Martin Brothers Wally Bird Tobacco Jar

The Martin Brothers' pottery was established at Fulham, London, in 1873, moving to Southall in 1877.

There were four of them, Walter Fraser, Edwin, Charles and Robert Wallace. Robert was the chief modeller and designer of the pottery and is the best known today.

The Martin Brothers are best known for producing the grotesque or 'Wally' Bird tobacco jars (pictured here) - a large R W Martin salt-glazed stoneware bird jar with detachable head, dated 1882 and 64cms tall. These birds formed only a relatively small part of their production and initially architectural items were produced.
 
Vases, large and small, the forms inspired by vegetables and incised with birds amongst grasses or in branches, or depicting aquatic life, were inspired by 18th century illustrations, executed in Japanese style. A few wealthy or farsighted individuals, who recognised the individual expressive and original thought that had gone into the creation of the pieces, were the main customers.
 
The firm went out of business at the start of the 1914-18 war.


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Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery

Following my visit to Plymouth Museum yesterday, where there are a number of these Wally Bird tobacco jars on display, it was interesting to read some of the background.

Rated: 3/5 (27th May 2010)

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