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Planning Retirement Online

Family Treasures - Edition 22 
October 2005

Miller's Price Guide 

Purchase Miller's Price Guide 2004/2005

Family Treasures 22

Jill Churchill, who writes on antiques and collectables for YOURS magazine, continues her series on antiques and collectables.      





Congratulations if you were you smart enough to start collecting these cups, saucers and plates about 20 years ago. Just as the Midwinter pottery in Staffordshire was closing down in the 1980s, a lot of people were throwing out their1950s and 60s stuff.


Zambesi tea set  

You might have picked up a piece for about 10p at a car boot fair. Today, you’d be lucky to find any Midwinter for less than ?10 – and prices are still rising. Collectors love them: plates shaped like old TV screens, squarish with rounded corners and with decoration that recalls post-war wallpaper or curtains. And it helps that all Midwinter pieces are marked with the company name.


Bright new things

It all began when Roy Midwinter joined his father’s pottery after serving in the RAF. Like all the war-weary, he was tired of austerity and wanted things that were bright and whimsical. . With the pottery’s young chief designer, Jessie Tait, he revolutionised the firm’s output.

Soon, in any high street department store after 1954, you might buy a “starter set” (a new idea, then): 20 pieces for 39s 9d [just under ?2]. And it might be decorated with Jessie’s designs: black and white with a dash of red is Zambesi, stylised and leafy is Primavera. Today a dealer could ask upwards of ?25 for a Zambesi cup and saucer; ?50 for a Primavera trio.

Midwinter also commissioned work from up-and-coming young artists. Turn over a big white platter decorated with maroon carrots, yellow and green artichokes and you’ll find Terence Conran’s name - pushing the value up to about ?100. Look closely at plates painted with black line drawings of seaside scenes highlighted with turquoise, red and yellow: they’re from the Riviera range by Hugh Casson: even a little teaplate could be ?20.

Jessie’s biggest hits

In her 28 years with Midwinter, the redoubtable Jessie Tait turned out hundreds of her own designs, too. I saw the platter in Fiesta design priced at ?80 by Christie’s three years ago. Her Red Domino was loved for many years: about ?12-15 a piece today.

Book cover for Midwinter potteryJessie’s last Midwinter design was a retail hit just before she left in 1974. From the sturdy “Stonehenge” range, still much-used in many a household today, it’s called Nasturtium. Tip: it will soon be being snapped up by collectors who are newly into the 1970s. Already a dinnerplate is about ?20, and you won’t see its exact like ever made again because today’s factory laws don’t allow the use of cadmium, the paint ingredient that made those flowers glow!


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