Poole Pottery Identification

By Thomas K. Arnold

Highly collectible Poole Pottery was created in Poole, England from 1921 until the present--and made entirely by hand until 1999. As with many pottery makers, the craftsmen at Poole used various marks over the years to identify their products that can be used by collectors to date their finds.

A Brief History of Poole Pottery

The origins of Poole Pottery date back to 1873, when Jesse Carter bought the East Quay Pottery company in Poole, England, and began making decorative tile and other architectural pottery. But it wasn't until the early 1920s that the company's focus turned to decorative table and domestic ware, with Carter's two sons, Charles and Owen, teaming with partners to form Carter, Stabler & Adams in 1921. This subsidiary of the original Carter & Company has been producing pottery ever since, including plaques and figurines. Various designers were brought in over the years, each collectible in his or her own right. Among the most prized Poole Pottery items are stoneware, vases, urns and jugs designed by Harole Stabler and his wife, Phoebe, with bright and vivid designs; a series of ship plates from the 1930s; the post-World War II "Galaxy" line of tableware, with its space-age designs; and modernistic "free form" pieces designed in the 1950s by Alfred Read and Guy Sydenham. The bright-colored Delphi line, launched in the 1960s, also is highly prized by collectors.

Earliest Marks

The earliest pieces created by Poole Pottery, between 1921 and 1934, feature the name "Carter Stabler Adams Ltd Poole England" impressed in a square. Art-deco Sylvanware pieces had the "Sylvan ware" name stenciled on the bottom and were produced between 1934 and 1937.

The Dolphin

The Poole factory almost shut down during World War II. As the Perfect Pieces website notes, "Producing highly elaborate and decorative pottery was not a very good idea between 1939 and 1945, and the Poole factory was not really geared for munitions. Added to that, the British government took a dim view of fancy goods at the time, and put a stop to them." Poole geared up again after the war years and in the early 1950s bowed its famous dolphin backstamp sandwiched between the words "Poole" and "England." In the early and middle 1950s this logo was in a circle, surrounded by the words "Hand Made" on top and "Hand Decorated" on the bottom. In 1955 the words were taken out and the dolphin logo was put inside a squarish shape, which in 1959 became an oval.

Logo Evolution

In 1967 a new dolphin picture--a side shot--came into use, with no borders and the words "Poole" and "England" arched around it, on the top and on the bottom. The old oval logo was still used until 1972, however, with the addition of "Est. 1873" under "England."

Modern Times

The latest logo was introduced in 1999, when the pottery factory was moved away from the quay and pieces were no longer made by hand. This mark features yet another dolphin, solid black, with "Poole" on top and "Pottery England" on the bottom.

Additional Information

For pictures of these and other marks that were used to identify Poole pottery over the years, see Resources, below. The Perfect Pieces website has a very good guide to Poole pottery marks, complete with photos. Another good source is Kovel's Dictionary of Marks: Pottery of Porcelain, published in July 1995 by Crown Publishers and available at Amazon U.K. (also see Resources).

About the Author

Thomas K. Arnold is publisher and editorial director of "Home Media Magazine" and a regular contributor to "Variety." He is a former editorial writer for U-T San Diego. He also has written for "San Diego Magazine," "USA Today" and the Copley News Service. Arnold attended San Diego State University.