Ridgway Homemaker

Ridgway Homemaker plate
Ridgway Homemaker plate, 1950s-1960s

Ridgway Homemaker is a range of ceramics made in the 1950s and 1960s. It is decorated with pictures of contemporary furniture and decorative items by Britain's top designers. Though Homemaker itself was cheap and cheerful. Today its retro look makes it highly collectable. Prices are still reasonable for most pieces, but tea and coffee pots and the ultra-rare red colour pattern pieces are worth upwards of £100 per piece.

History

A newly married couple setting up home in the 1950s or early 1960s might have chosen the cheap, but contemporary, Homemaker range of ceramics for their dinner or tea service. Homemaker combined an award-winning modern shape, Metro, by Tom Arnold, with a pattern by Enid Seeney showing contemporary furniture and household items against a background of black lines.

Enid Seeney designed the pattern in 1956 for new shapes designed by Tom Arnold. She called the new design 'Furniture'. However, executives thought it might be too radical for public tastes and public reaction at an exhibition in Blackpool was disappointing. However, Seeney still believed in the design and her team produced a prototype coffee set.

Homemaker came to the attention of Woolworth's only by chance. A buyer visiting Ridgway (yes it is spelt like that, not Ridgeway) in May 1957 saw a prototype coffee set made up by Seeney. He thought it would sell and immediately placed a large order for it.

Homemaker was mass produced ceramics. It would have been impossible for a design sold by Woolworth's to be hand painted. Ridgway used a new printing process, the Murray-Curvex litho process. The pattern was applied in reverse to the bottom of a gelatine pad (or 'bomb'). The wet paint was then transferred to the piece in a way that would allow it to mould to the shape. This process made all-over patterns such as Homemaker possible.

Tom Arnold designed the shape onto which the Homemaker pattern was applied. It was known as 'Metro'. Metro along with the 'Conference' pattern by another designer, Pat Albeck, won the coveted Council of Industrial Design, Design of the Year Award in 1957. Homemaker was later produced on different shape, Cadenza.

Homemaker brought good quality design to a mass market. The pattern itself displayed some of the most exclusive designs of furniture from the early 1950s including a chair by Robin Day, a sideboard similar to a Gordon Russell design and a two seater-sofa by Swedish designer, Count Sigvard Bernadotte. These designs would have been far too expensive for people who bought Homemaker.

Homemake Cadenza teapot (image Stephen Dinnen)
Ridgway Homemaker Cadenza teapot (image Stephen Dinnen)

At the time, Homemaker would have been a far from subtle contemporary statement. The Woolworth's buyer was spot on. It was just the thing that would appeal to a young working class couple wanting a contemporary look to their home.

Today Homemaker is loved by anyone into modern design from the 1950s and 1960s.

Shapes

Homemaker was produced on two shapes. The original Metro, designed by Tom Arnold from 1957 and Cadenza (see teapot in picture above, right) designed by Margaret Simpson from 1966. The Cadenza shape can be seen in a different style of teapot, coffee pot and milk jug and also in a different style tureen (vegetable dish).


Backstamps

Ridgway Homemaker first backstamp Ridgway Homemaker fourth backstamp Ridgway Homemaker third backstamp Ridgway Homemaker second backstamp

There were five different styles of backstamp used on Homemaker. The first three (above) were used on early pieces up to around 1962. The first one is probably the oldest, from 1957. The text "THESE COLOURS ARE PERMANENT UNDERGLAZE AND DETERGENT PROOF" was probably added later.

The fourth back stamp was used from 1962 onwards. You can see a date on the fourth photograph above, it is on the second line from bottom on the right hand side, '62'. I have seen 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68 and 70. There is also another number on the left hand side, a '1' shown here. It represents the first or second half of the year. You will see either '1' or '2'.

This style of backstamp was also used without the date information.

The fifth style of backstamp (not illustrated) was the similar to the fourth (fourth photograph above), but larger with HOMEMAKER printed in a larger font. 

Homemaker was also produced with no backstamp.

 

What is on the Homemaker pattern?

I have been able to identify a number of important contemporary designs on the Homemaker pattern:

Values

The rarest Homemaker items can fetch big money.

Red Homemaker pattern

Ridgway made a few pieces in red and white instead of black and white. They are extremely rare and sell for big money. Expect to pay £300+ for a 10 inch red Homemaker plate.

Nut dish - value £300+

The nut dish is just 13cm in diameter. It has just four of the Homemaker motifs.

For more rare items see our guide to the Homemaker range

Tea and coffee pots

In the standard range the larger items tend to be worth the most. Homemaker coffee pots are will sell for £100 to £130. Teapots can sell for more. We value them at £100 to £300.

Homemaker achieved prices on eBay

Value guide

The plates and teacups are still reasonably priced. This guide is from the latest sold prices on eBay.

Buy Homemaker

My recommendation would be to buy Ridgway Homemaker on eBay You will get the best price and the widest choice. You will, however, need to be aware of your facts to successfully buy on eBay.

A number of the photographs used in this piece were supplied by you can buy pieces in their eBay store.

Reference and further reading

For more details on the Homemaker range see our guide to the Homemaker range.

In compiling this guide I found Homemaker: A 1950s Design Classic by Simon Moss extremely useful. If you want to be a serious collector of Homemaker, I strongly suggest you buy a copy. The second revised edition contains some interesting extra information about rare pieces. It will also help you make informed buying decisions on eBay and not be caught out by the hype.

The Guardian - Enid Seeney Obituary

I also found Ceramics of the '50s and '60s: A Collector's Guide (Miller's Collecting Guides) to be useful.

By Steven Braggs, April 2014, corrections May 2014, updated December 2020

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Comments

Andrew Chilvers

My mother bought the design with the 4th backstamp when she worked at Woolies between 1957 and 1960 for her bottom drawer.it has no date on it...it was most likely earlier rather than later as she was collecting for her fiance predating my father...

Steven
Why not eBay? A dealer will want to build in a profit for any price he/she offers you. Auctions have higher costs and are often on weekdays, so only dealers buy. All the best
Beverley Butler
My partner has four 7" Plates that belonged to his late parents. They are in perfect condition. He would like to sell them. What is the best way of getting a fair price other than e-bay?
Kelly
Thanks you so much for the info. I have 2 different sized cups? Do they have the same value? Regards Kelly
karen woodmass
just found a coffee set while clearing out a house. shame it will be stuck in a cupboard as i have no where to display it.
 
 
Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles

Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

★ Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles ★