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maker's mark in cm & pmi

updated fri 19 dec 03


Janet Kaiser on thu 18 dec 03

That is EXCELLENT news, David and TC! It is about time that ALL
magazines took this idea on board. It was understandable in the
past when the added cost put them off printing what could be
considered non-essential images, but now there is no excuse. IMO
they should include a potter's mark (signature, scrawl, seal,
chop, imprint, scratch, inkblot) with each article or even
oh-be-joyful an image of same with every single pot they show.
Greaaaaaatttttttt as Tony the ESSO Tiger used to say! I bet the
most difficult part will be extracting an image off the makers to

I must say that the Craft Potters Association of Britain really
did a fine job when they started producing "Potters" some years
ago. This lists all the current fellows and members of the CPA
and alongside an example of their work, there is a short
biography or statement, a photo of the maker (Peter Beard has put
one in about aged five!) AND their mark(s). Flicking through the
12th Edition just to check, I see that the marks are naturally as
diverse as the pots, but the impressed seal is just about ahead
in the popularity stakes, with written signature or initials a
strong second. Few have no mark at all illustrated (but does not
mean that they do not sign their work in some way). Now these
little books are a fabulous resource, because there are also
contact details for each potter at the back and their location is
marked on a map of the UK. Perhaps this is something ACerS should
do for our North American cousins? I can tell you, it becomes
something of a bible to collectors, curators and anyone else
interested in contemporary ceramics and it will be even more
important as an archival resource for historians and museums in
years to come.

BTW... I have some answers for you here TC on the methods used to
illustrate the marks. Most are drawn freehand, some must have
dipped their seal in ink and then used it to stamp on paper to
submit for publication and only a couple are photographs. Actual
size too from what I can see, which is a tad difficult without a
magnifying glass. I shall recommend they send a pot to Bruce -
30x magnification hardware/software combo - Girrell so he can do
a better job! (Only kidding Bruce - although these pots are to
die for!). I suppose that it may have been scanned and not
photographed at all... I can put your mind (or butt) at rest
Tony, because I can assure you that some are definitely sketches
of what they usually stamp and not very good at that! "Room for
improvement" but still obviously similar enough to the original
for reference purposes. I do believe that one has been done in
wax resist, stamped on the paper and then inked over. Cannot
swear to that, but it is what it looks like... A neat way around
a negative imprint.

As Waco Hendrix has already sussed out, an expert collector,
curator or assessor will simply know from his/her own historical
data bank (brain) who made a particular pot, but it is vastly
satisfying for that to be confirmed by the potter's mark. It adds
to the romanticism... The cynics may say that it is all just
smoke and mirrors and nothing better than pulling a rabbit out of
a hat, but I truly like the mystique which is associated with
marks... Secret signs, a whole language only an inner circle will
understand... Probably a lot to do with my Celtic heritage. I do
not personally like everything handed to me on a plate. It is
almost like the thrill of the hunt is denied if it is all spelled
out... Or like our (un)dress code compared to 100+ years ago...
There was so much more excitement involved then... Imagine
fainting at the sight of an ankle let alone a knee... The extra
ardour... Still enjoyed in the Muslim world to... The 1001
nights... the Karma Sutra... >cough<

Back to marks... The fun of the chase... There is also the chance
of finding previously unknown work and then being able to find
out about it, by simply searching for information using that
little mark and it alone. The simpler the mark, the easier it
makes the search, because you can reproduce it quickly in a
letter to a friend, who just happens to be curator of the
ceramics department of the British Museum... Or whoever. Experts
abound. But even in this technological age, it is much easier to
describe the mark on a pot than it is to pass on a correct
picture of the pot itself.

For example, if I said that I had a pot here with a vertical
capital "M" with a horizontal letter "C" so placed like a
crescent moon balanced on the "M", something like:


(obviously that U is supposed to be a C on its side and touching
the top of the M)

I bet a great many would know immediately who made that pot
without even starting to explain about the shape, colour, body,
glaze, decoration, etc.


Mick Casson

His funeral tomorrow (Friday) yet still not a word in the media.
I cannot believe it. Maybe the family have asked for it to be
that way, but somehow I doubt it. Although Mick himself may have
said he wanted no fuss. Such a lovely, unassuming man.


a sorrowful Janet Kaiser

>David: The Maker's Mark appears to now be standard procedure
when signing a
>writers contract for CM or PMI. I received a form asking to
enclose the
>artist's mark or signature along with a contract for an article
some weeks
>ago. I've been scratching my butt how to do it. It does not
have to be a
>photographic image. It can be written or stamped on a clean
sheet of paper.
>Hey Micheal what was the name of that ink again?
>The mark will be a nice signature when signing an article.
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