Susie Cooper left A. E. Gray & Co. Ltd where she had been a decorator and designer
in October 1929 to establish an independent pottery business, first at Tunstall and
then at the Chelsea Works, Burslem. In 1931, at Harry Wood’s invitation, Susie Cooper
moved her design and decorating studio to the Wood & Sons Ltd Crown Works in Newcastle
St, Burslem, where she operating as the ‘Susie Cooper Pottery’. The association with
Wood & Sons continued and in 1959 she purchased the Crown Works as the base for her
expanding business. From c.1950 Susie Cooper’s new focus was on bone china and the
last earthenware pattern (2429) was registered in July 1964. Production of earthenware
ceased shortly afterward. The Crown Works remained the base for Susie Cooper’s design
studio until the Works were closed by Wedgwood in 1980.
The Susie Cooper earthenware produced between the early 1930s and 1964 includes wall
masks, figures, art pottery and decorator items, but best known are the collectable
tableware decorated using freehand painting, banding, sgraffito, lithography, and
Tableware shapes include the famous Kestrel (introduced in 1932 and still in production
in 1964) Curlew (1932), Rex, Falcon (1937), and others. Patterns of the early 1930s
echo those developed at Grays – bold floral motifs, banding and geometric designs.
By the mid-1930s the decoration had changed from the vivid geometric to more subtle
floral and banded decoration. The multi-colour lithographic patterns ‘Patricia Rose’
and ‘Dresden Spray’ are the best know floral patterns and these were produced, with
many variations from the 1930s to the 1960s. In 1987, to celebrate a retrospective
exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Wedgwood re-introduced three Kestrel
breakfast sets in re-worked versions of the 1930s patterns Yellow Daisy, Spiral Fern
and Polka Dot.
Patricia Rose, produced in many variations and colour palettes was perhaps the most
recognisable and popular of Susie Cooper’s earthenware patterns.
The common Susie Cooper mark found on earthenware is the famous ‘leaping deer’ printed
in brown (most commonly), green, pink, blue or black. The words ‘A Susie Cooper Production’
and ‘Crown Works, Burslem’ are usually present and many wares include a shape and
or pattern number. A number cast into the earthenware body is the year of manufacture.