What’s the best way to commemorate man reaching the moon? Create a range of textured vases after the missions in question?
Well seemingly that’s what the Royal Norfolk Pottery Company at the back end of the 1960’s by producing a range of vases to commemorate Apollo missions 8 though 11!
Image courtesy of Mark Richardson
Strangely one of these vase shapes seems to have struck a chord with the catering industry as a Google search for an Apollo vase, bar the obvious Greek/Roman references, pulls up a few images of an apparent catering mainstay.
Now I don’t honestly know if there’s any link whatsoever but it has interested me none the less and could genuinely be the cause of a now generic shape.
Aside from this random catering related fact what more can I say about these vases?
Firstly they are very cool and completely in keeping with the design aesthetic of the period, in colour and style. There were four vases, a shape per mission, and there were four colours – acid orange, dark blue, white and lastly green.
Apollo 9 Vase available from Retro Mojo
The Apollo 8 vase was a basic short cylinder, measuring 190 mm tall, the Apollo 9 vase a fantastic modernist form measuring 255-260 mm tall. Apollo 10 is the big cylinder measuring 295 mm tall and 110 mm across, lastly the Apollo 11 version, measuring 300 mm tall and being an almost inverted version of the Apollo 9.
Apollo 8 Vase available from Retro Mojo
Apollo 11 Vase – Image by Mr Bino
Incidentally the Royal Norfolk Pottery Company, established in 1958, were called such because they worked out of Norfolk Street in Shelton, Staffordshire, nothing to do with the East Anglian region!
Acid Orange Apollo 10 Vase
Nothing I’ve researched, range wise, from Norfolk Pottery, seems to come close to style, texture or colour of these vases so that seems to make them quite a departure from the company’s norm. There is an extremely loose attachment to the sixties style via the well known designer Colin Melbourne, who did work for the pottery, but didn’t seem to do anything with textures. The closest thing I’ve come across is, strangely, a teapot, which can be seen quite regularly on eBay in a blue, green or brown, with a base impression in the same style stating GIBSON RUSTIC. The ‘luna rock’ impressed pattern is very similar as are the colours but alas I can find nothing about Gibson Rustic so a dead end there.
Gibson Rustic Tea Pot
Another piece of the trail may be wrapped up in the letters W and C which have been seen impressed in the bases of some examples?
Occasionally these Apollo vases pop up on eBay and online stores but I wouldn’t go as far to say they’re easy to obtain. Prices vary from between £24 and £50 and we just happen to have a couple of gorgeous examples on Retro Mojo!
Apollo 11 Vase in white
As seems to be becoming a regular side note on our subjected blog products we like to tally up collectability. Not too hard here with a potential range of sixteen vases, although we’ve honestly not seen all permutations of these vases and there is a small amount of educated guesswork here.
If you have any permutations not pictured here please email us.
If you have any images of your own Apollo vases please feel free to submit them to the Apollo Vase Flickr group
Thank you to Kate at Junk & Gems for her fantastic photos of a black version of the Apollo 11 version that we didn’t know existed!