There’s a bit of confusion out there in vintage land so we thought we delve into Bristow pottery

Reason for the confusion?

Well you can put that down to family members, multiple locations, similar styles and techniques and varying production periods! Specifically the styles and techniques that cause the confusion are the angled incised cut patterns with blue, green, brown and off white coloured examples, with the, predominantly, horizontally brushed washes.

Some of the above pieces can be purchased at Retro Mojo

These pieces were deceptively smooth despite the incised patterns – there are many plain variants with the matching colours and washes but without incisions, these are nice enough pieces but are not being covered here.

So, from the top –

Tony Bristow worked at Bonchurch Pottery, a village located just East of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight from 1961-1967.

Tony’s son, Andrew, started at Bonchurch Pottery, in 1974, using different self taught styles from his father, although some early work by Andrew does resemble his father’s style, and as you can read further down there’s other similar forms. Bonchurch Pottery is still producing today.

Bristow Pottery Malta, opened in the late sixties we think, after Tony spent his winters there producing, and was taken over by Adrian and Mark Grima in 1972, with the pottery still going very strong now. A number of pieces output from this location were marked to the base both MALTA along side BP

Tony was at Shanklin Pottery, just down the road from Bonchurch between 1966 and 1972.

It would appear Tony didn’t like the cold much as he also worked out of Palm Beach, Florida from 1972-74!
Shanklin Village Pottery – Image Peter Trimming

Finally Tony worked out of Chillington, South Devon, between 1974 and 2003.

In general Bristow, Shanklin and Malta are seen with incised marks, whilst Bristow, Chillington also had black/gold round stickers. Malta pieces also come marked BP and the Bristow Chillington pieces often bore an incised ‘A’, Tony’s, (Anthony’s), preferred mark.

So as you can see we’ve got multiple locations, crossover periods of working both home and abroad, and a number of subtle variants and colours of the same theme.

The most common colourways we’ve ascertained are blues, browns, greens and off whites with dark incisions.

Forms are numerous, as with many successful commercial potteries, including – but I’m sure not limited to – Vases, Egg cups, Storage jars, Candle holders, Lidded pots, Coffee pots, Jam pots, Vinaigrettes, Mugs, Candle holders and Pitchers!

On top of this there’s other gimmick pieces, one of which has been executed by a number of potters over the years, the frog in the base of a mug!

This came as quite a shock to the unobserved, innocent participant in a cup of brew only to get down to the base of the mug and take the last swig or two revealing a small frog sitting on the base! I imagine a fair bit of tea has been spat out over the years by unsuspecting brew lovers being snared by this prank!

We’ve sold an example of a frog mug marked Bristow Pottery and seen another attributed to Andrew Bristow for Bonchurch Pottery, so despite various protestations Andrew did seem to utilise some of his dad’s ‘If it isn’t broke’ mentality!