Midwinter pottery in the 50s
Midwinter pioneered modern design in mass market ceramics from the 1950s to the 1970s. Under the leadership of Roy Midwinter, the firm brought the style of West Coast America to the UK. Roy Midwinter was not formally schooled in design, but had an eye for where the market was going and which new shapes the public would take to. He steered the firm's output from the organic shapes of the 1950s, through cylindrical modernism of the early 1960s and the flower power motifs of the late 60s, to the mother earth naturalism of the early 1970s.
Midwinter was founded by Roy's father, William Robertson (W R) Midwinter, in 1910. The firm's original output comprised teapots and less than glamorous sanitary ware. Business went well and by the the 1930s Midwinter was making tableware, including some Art Deco style tea services. However, other firms were showing the lead in terms of design.
Roy Midwinter served an apprenticeship with W R Midwinter learning all aspects of the business. On a sales trip to Canada in 1952 he was disappointed at buyers' reactions to the company's products. He discovered that a new style was selling well in North America and was keen to find out more. On a trip to the West Coast of the USA he looked at work by Eva Zeisel and Russell Wright which epitomised the new organic flowing shapes of mid century modern good taste.
He adapted their ideas for the UK market. Whilst the US taste favoured rimless or coupe plates and bowls, UK buyers still wanted a rim on their tableware. So the first new range, Stylecraft (1953), still had rims, but brought in more fluid forms and a distinctive 1950s' TV screen shape for plates and saucers.
Midwinter launched Stylecraft at a very exciting time for British design. Rationing and Utility were coming to an end, and the public had a taste for new design fuelled by the very successful Festival of Britain Exhibition in 1951. In other fields 1953 was also a turning point. G-Plan furniture launched in that year and new bright and colourful textiles and wallpapers became available. Contemporary ceramics needed to fit in with contemporary taste in the home. Stylecraft was perfect. Midwinter took a lead in the market for contemporary ceramics leaving other manufacturers to copy and play catch up.
Midwinter needed to stay ahead and produced a huge number of new designs. Roy Midwinter encouraged design talent both from within and outside the firm to keep his products one step ahead of competitors. In-house designer Jessie Tait put her name to over thirty new patterns in the 1950s. Midwinter's external designers included Terence Conran, who produced a design showing his famous three-legged plant pot holder and several other contemporary patterns, ornithologist and artist Peter Scott, and Hugh Casson, whose Riviera/Cannes design became one of Midwinter's longest runs .
As well as having a keen eye for modern design, Roy Midwinter also had an eye for how to market products. G-Plan had done away with traditional suites, selling one piece at at time. Midwinter introduced starter sets, which freed customers from having to buy a whole dinner or tea service in one purchase. They could add to the set they had originally bought with some confidence that the design would not disappear from the shops after a few months.
In 1955 Roy Midwinter upgraded his Stylecraft shape with a new design called Fashion. Whilst Stylecraft was a little cautious, Fashion was full blown 1950s' organic shape. Fashion remained in production for many years, carrying many designs from cutting edge contemporary to more conservative floral patterns.
Always alert to new developments, Roy Midwinter pioneered an innovative plastic range of tableware called Midwinter Modern. In the 1950s there was a fear in the potteries that traditional ceramic ware might be replaced by Melamine.
By the end of the 50s, Roy Midwinter thought the organic forms of Fashion and Stylecraft were looking a bit like last year's fashion and in the 1960s introduced a new range based on the cylinder. The Fashion shape continued though, but appealed to more conservative buyers wanting to be modern, but not too cutting edge.
These are Midwinter's contemporary ranges of tableware from the 50s
- 1953 - Stylecraft
- 1955 - Fashion
- 1956 - Saladware
- 1958 - Modern (Melamine tableware)
How to tell Stylecraft from Fashion
Plates, saucers and dishes
Fashion was a development of Stylecraft. The plates, saucers, cups and dishes are similar. Look out for a rim on the plates, saucers and dishes on Stylecraft. Fashion is rimless; the technical term is coupe.
Compare the Stylecraft plate with a rim (right), with the coupe Fashion plate (far right).
Coffee and tea pots
Stylecraft tea and coffee pots have a more traditional look and are much less flowing and organic than Fashion. Compare the Cannes coffee pot, (far left) in the Fashion shape with the Wild Geese coffee pot (left), in the Stylecraft shape.
Midwinter produced a huge range of patterns in the 50s and 60s on the basic Stylecraft and Fashion shapes. Some were by well-known designers and many by in-house designer, Jessie Tait. These are some of the most popular today.
Zambesi by Jessie Tait (1956) on Fashion
The black and white striped Zambesi pattern with red detail was a contemporary trend in the 1950s. Stripes are also seen on Albert Hallam's strange shaped vases and dishes for Beswick (1954) and much copied elsewhere. It was among the first Midwinter patterns to become collectable.
Zambesi achieves good prices on eBay and there seems to be a good market for it.
- Zambesi Coffee Pot - £100 to £125
- Zambesi Tea Pot - £100 to £160
- Sets or collections - £100+
- Plate, cup and saucer - £20 to £30
- Gravy boat, complete with spoon - £60 to £90
- Large serving dish - £50
- Cruet set - £50
- Single large plate - £10 to £20
- Single small plate - £7 to £10
Midwinter Saladware 1956 by Terence Conran and Roy Midwinter
Roy Midwinter worked with Terence Conran to produce Saladware. It was a range of dishes, bowls, plates, cups, saucers, teapots and salad dishes decorated with informal style drawings of vegetables. The most exciting piece is the celery vase (right).
This range show's Conran's early thinking. It might very well have been on the shelves of Habitat a few years later. It appealed to people happy to venture further afield for holidays and bring back a more relaxed lifestyle. The vegetables illustrated: red pepper, marrow, gherkin, cress, tomato, sweet corn, radish, garlic clove, mushroom, spring onion, artichoke and carrot would not look out of place in a modern kitchen. This must have been advanced taste in 1950s Britain.
- Saladware Celery Vase - £50 to £100
- Set of six plates or bowls - £50 to £75
- Single small plate - £15
Look for :
Midwinter Domino (1953) by Jessie Tait
Domino is a delightful polka dot pattern on the Stylecraft shape. One of the earliest Stylecraft patterns, it was very much in vogue in the early 1950s.
Domino is usually red and white, but blue and green versions also exist. A black version is very rare.
- Trio (cup saucer and plate) - £20 to £30
- Tea pot - £20
- Set of six plates - £20 to £30
- Cake stand - £40 to £70
Midwinter Riviera (1954) and Cannes (1960) by Hugh Casson
These are my favourite Midwinter designs. They bring back memories of holidays in France. It shows French café bars and harbour scenes.
Riviera was drawn by the architect and artist, Hugh Casson. Hugh Casson was a significant architect who had a passion for drawing. He was director of architecture at the Festival of Britain, but also enjoyed working on sketches and water colours. It was his sketches of the Coronation route that drew his attention to Roy Midwinter.
His drawings for Riviera were and adapted to the Stylecraft shape by Jessie Tait. Riviera became Cannes in 1960 when the design was applied to the fashion shape. Cannes/Riviera was one of the longest running Midwinter designs with a production run that lasted to the 1970s.
- Trio (cup saucer and plate) - £10 to £25
- Tea pot or coffee pot - £50
- Set including tea or coffee pot- £75
- Single plate - £5 to £12
Wild Geese (1955) by Peter Scott
Wild Geese features a picture of three geese in flight. It captures the mood of Autumn evenings. Wild Geese was drawn by Peter Scott, better known for founding the Severn Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge in 1946 (now the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust). It was made for the Stylecraft shape.
Wild Geese is a relative bargain, perhaps because of the naturalistic subject.
- Trio (cup saucer and plate) - £5
- Tea pot or coffee pot - £30 to £50
- Set including tea or coffee pot- £60
- Single plate - £2 to £5
By Steven Braggs, February 2013
"Hi, are you interested in buying my Terence Conran Nature Study china?" Sue Hogben 13/05/2013
I wouldn't be, but if you give your contact details in another post, perhaps someone reading the site might be interested. Best regards" Steven 14/05/2013
Do you still have your nature study china? I might be interested in buying." Matt watson 26/05/2013
"I have a set of Midwinter Stylecraft Classic shape 3-60, complete apart from 2 cups. Can you tell me how to find replacement cups - my internet searches have come up empty-handed. How do you search for the right decoration? Mine are white with pale green and gold leaf pattern and gold on the edge. Any idea what they are worth? Any info would be much appreciated. Thanks" Kate 25/08/2013
"I had a full dinner set of Midwinter Stylecraft Staffordshire England Classic Shape 3-60. I was wondering how much it is worth?" Anna 27/02/2014
"I have 2 cups and saucers stamped as Midwinter, but I cannot find anything with the same pattern on any of the many websites I have looked at. Is there anyone who could identify it for me if I send a photo?
Thanks" Julie 15/03/2014
Please feel free to send me a photo (email@example.com) I'll identify it if I can. best regards" Steven 16/03/2014
"Hi I have 4 items of midwinter stylecraft magnolia, table serving dishes with lids X2 excellent used condition a gravy boat a small chip on base plate underneath, and a meat plate that unfortunately has a crack in any ideas if they are worth anything ? and where would be the best place ?" Jan 20/05/2014
"I would guess they would be worth from Â£10 to Â£20 each for the serving dishes, but they are not that common. Cracked or chipped items would be worth a lot less. Check out eBay completed listing. I would suggest selling on eBay if you want the best price.
Best regards" Steven 20/05/2014
I have a coffee set of Midwinter Stylecraft with stamp 'Stylecraft Midwinter Staffordshire Made in England Reg. D 711843 868695' On each item is also red paint? scratch/dot. The problem is that it looks exactly like the Midwinter - Silver Wheat - Red design in shape and colour, but mine has only the red and silver rims and no wheat or other design on it.(the items are -except for the silver and the red rims- plain white.) Someone suggested it could be a set from before Jessie Tait started on the design in 1953. I have no clue and I have nowhere seen the set I have. Is there anyone here that could tell me more about this set?
I don't know if I could post a link here, but if you google on Jessie Tait Silver Wheat, it will show exact my set.. just without the Wheat..
Thanks in advance,
Cath:-)" Cath 21/06/2014
"Hi, i have quite a lot of Jessica Tait Zambesi range from coffee cups , milk jugs, tureens etc and none of my pieces have the red flash on the handles etc....is this a variant of the Zambesi range ? Thank you in advance" Rosalind 24/07/2014
"I have a set of Midwinter Stylecraft, Cannes, Hugh Casson comprising 6 cups, 4 saucers, 6 plates and 1 large plate, all in excellent condition. Any advice on price and where to sell them please?
Also Midwinter Porcelon Burslem in a mockled pink design, 5 saucers, 3 side plates, 1 dinner plate, 1 cup, 1 sugar bowl and 1 milk jug, again any idea on price please and where to sell? Thank you." Angie 23/09/2014
"Csn you tell me anything about my set of Stylecraft fashionshape please? the msrkings are - Midwinter Stylecraft staffordshire england - fashion shape 10 - 62. the design is of a desert scene with a cactus. The set was given to me by my mother and I cannot fid this set anywhere on the internet. i'd appreciate any information please.
Set includes small bowls, various size plates, gravy jug, and serving bowls." Paul Brett 05/10/2014
I have a small sideplate sized Stylecraft Fashion Shape plate marked 10-62. It has a silver carrying handle. Do you know if this is as original or has the handle been added more recently. It was with my mums possessions, but I'm not sure how she came by it. Thank you" Janet 10/10/2014
"There is certainly a modern trend to turn vintage plates into cake stands and I've seen Midwinter plates become victim to this. However, Midwinter did also do this themselves and did fit handles to plates, which could be used as serving plates. I can't say for sure, but I guess if you Mum had it for some time it is likely to be original." Steven 11/10/2014
"I've just been passed on some Midwinter Zambesi china if anyone is interested. I have 3 tea plates - one has a chip, 2 large all black jugs(one has discolouration on the inside), a small black jug, and 2 small sugar bowls - one zebra and one black. Would be open to offers for them. I also have a serving dish - all black but only the bottom - no top!" Adrienne 28/10/2014
"I have two platers one is large ,Jessie tait midwinter" Jayne Latimer 11/11/2014
"I have 3 midwinter stylecraft "blue domino" cup and saucer, could you tell me what these will be worth. Thanks." debbie Bradbury 16/01/2015
"I have a fruit Bowl Stafforshire England, Midwinter Stylecraft, Classic Shape, 10-59. There is also a red 10 and 3 dots in a triangle shape.. Can you tell me anymore about this bowl. Lovely colour and Some lacy white roses on the inside and outside." Dawn Sowa 09/02/2015
"I have a complete Unused Midwinter September Song Coffee Set
I wondered if you had any idea of value?
Many Thanks" Julie 09/03/2015
"I have a 3 tier cake stand? comprised of Midwinter Bird Chintz plates.
The bottom and top plates are marked as Midwinter Modern Fashion Shape, and the centre one is marked Stylecraft Fashion Tableware by Midwinter. They are all rimless.
Do you know if this would have been made by Midwinter, or adapted later on to be a tiered stand?
Thank you for any info you could provide." Brenda 10/04/2015
I would think that they have been made into a cake stand later. Especially, if the plates don't match.
Best regards" Steven 10/04/2015
"Thank you, Steven, for your time and information. It is much appreciated." Brenda 17/04/2015
"Hello, I've just bought a 3-tier cake stand called Midwinter Stylecraft dated 6-60, with flowers and gold filigree also edged in gold, and wanted to learn more about the make...your site has been a mine of info...thanks! p.s. cost was Â£12 at a charity shop." nicam 15/05/2015
Midwinter Stylecraft refers to the Stylecraft range. Sometimes you will also see 'Fashion Shape' which means it is Fashion rather than Stylecraft. Cake stands are rare, although there is a trend to turn Midwinter plates into cake stands. Are all the plates the same? If yes it is probably genuine. If not it is probably a cake stand made recently from old plates. The date is June 1960 and refers to when the plate was made. Another thing to check for is are there stamps on the all the plates and are all the dates the same?
best regards" Steven 17/05/2015
"Hi, I have a full dinner service 3 different size plates for 6, 2 veg tureen meat plate,tea service for 12 with tea pot and cake stand they are Midwinter style raft fashion shape some have 10-61 others 11-61 marked they are white with red rose spray, saucers and tureen bottoms are black, do these have a value?" Jenny 19/05/2015
"I am looking for a replacement Midwinter stylcraft, nature study, sugar basin,fashion shape 10-59.Unused preferred. Can anyone help, please?" Brian Davies 03/06/2015
I have 4 over sized dinner plates Cherokee Midwinter Modern Fashion Shape, Staffordshire, England stamped on back for sale. Please email if interested. Thank you." Zee Gardner 07/07/2015
I am not a collector but have the following from my late mothers estate and wondered if you could advise on value or anyone who may be interested.
6 t cups, saucers and sandwich plates in excellent condition I believe they are burslem midwinter cream and burgundy with goldtrim
Any help or info you could give is much appreciated
Dave Green" Dave Green 02/09/2015
"Hi, I'm looking for any pieces of the Roy Midwinter Safari Collection. Anybody know where I can start looking? Thank you!
Ann" Ann 15/09/2015
"Hi, I have a Midwinter Modern Fashion (rose design) milk jug and sugar bowl/basin in great condition. Would you be interested in buying? Many thanks" julie 22/09/2015
"Hi. I have a plate marked on the back midwinter modern fashion shape staffordshire, with a rod in the middle. It is to small for a cake stand so l think it is for sweets, but there are 4 recesses in the plates that makes me wonder if there is something missing, a cruet set maybe. Any ideas.thanks" Christine 24/09/2015
I'm looking for Midwinter Nature Study sandwich plates to complete a set if anyone's selling them!
Andy" Andy OCallaghan 17/12/2015
"Hi I have a green and gold midwinter curt set and was wondering if it is something you would be interested in purchasing," karen 18/12/2015
"Hi - Looking for a Zambesi coffee pot lid to complete our set. Will consider buying a complete, but damaged pot. 07770-804376 (UK)" Ian Macnaught 29/01/2016
"Hi - I have a Primavera television dinner plate in excellent condition for sale. I am under the impression that this is a rare piece, but haven't been able to find much information on it, only a blurb from 2008 . Is there a site that someone can refer me to so that I can do more research on it?
Thank you." Lisa 05/04/2016
"Hi, I have a dinner set Midwinter Stylecraft Classic Shape 4-59
it has another mark that appears to look like an L. It is maroon with gold pin striping , gold emblems all around the edge and in the centre, all the plates and cups and saucers are the same. I live in Australia and this dinner set has been handed around the family in a box for a long time , I am wanting to know more about it and its approximate value please. Hope you can help . Kind Rgds Deb" debbie wintle 26/05/2016
"Hi, I have a small very plain cream coloured jug marked W.R.M Burslem England..
I cant find any plain cream coloured pottery. Any ideas please? Id love to know how old my little jug is
Jann" Jann 26/05/2016
"Hi, am in Canada and have quite a few pieces of Midwinter Stylecraft in a Golden Rose pattern. I can not seem to find any info on it.I have been looking for years now.Any info would be fantastic. Tks Doris" Doris 29/06/2016
We have a bowl 10 inch diameter, cream inside with a half inch band of green followed by a pale green up to rim. 1 inch rim embossed with gold pattern. Excellent condition. Midwinter Porcelon Burslem on base. Can anyone provide some information about its background please. Regards Stephenie" Stephenie McColough 17/08/2016
"Hello. Hope you can help me. I have just purchased what I believe to be the 'Zambezi' design cups, saucers, plates. Unfortunately the set is not complete. I only have four cups, one of which is slightly chipped, six plates and six saucers. The plates and saucers have the midwinter fashion stamp as well as what seems to be lettering and paw prints on the plates and some of the cups. There is no mid winter stamp on the cups though as I said some strange lettering. Also the cups do not have the red strip on the handle. Can anyone give me advise as to whether the cups are definatly midwinter. Are they less valuable if I only the said amount? Many thanks
Ashley" Ashley Joanna Brown 05/09/2016
I have a two tier cake stand. On both plates the stamp reads midwinter modern fashion shape Staffordshire england each plate has numbers bottom plate 14 top plate 15 bottom plate has gold letter R and N top plate A D. The plates are the same shape, design size and pattern (flowery) Can you tell me of this item is genuine? If so, what would it's value be please? Thank you in anticipation" marie schoeman 06/09/2016
"Hi, do you know of a definitive list of all the Midwinter products in the Red Domino pattern? I have recently started to collect it, but cannot find any sort of resource that lists the shapes. Also, I have some pieces that resembles Style craft Red Domino, but which are only back stamped 'England'. Are these copies? Thanks." Keren 07/11/2016
"I'm in Victoria, B.C., Canada, & have
a Gravy Boat,"Dogwood Flower" For Sale.
It is Gorgeous, such a Cool "Swoopy" Organic Design
I can only find one other like it, for sale near Seattle for $65 U.S.D.
Details about Mine:
"stylecraft fashion tableware by midwinter",
in Excellent Condition. Has #28 set into bottom,
with a curved mark beside it. No other Identifiers that I can find." Shirley Peach 22/11/2016
"Hello, I am beginning to clear out years and years of hoarding, to my wife's delight, I have a teapot, in the zambisi style by Jessie Tait, it's in mint condition, I have examined it all over and there are no chips or scratching on it at all not on the pot or the lid, I want to sell it but I'm unsure of where or how to try and sell it, I didn't know if there is a particular place I could try where collectors of these may be looking for one to complete the set.
Many thanks Sean
I can't seem to attach a photo to send a photo." Sean Holden 29/11/2016
"Vintage Midwinter Stylecraft Staffordshire England
Classic Shape Dated 6-60 3-63
Retro English Festive Christmas Dinnerware
A comprehensive collection of items offered for sale.
Email for pictures and list of items.
Martin" Martin Wills 14/01/2017
"I have a plate that is marked with Alice Edwards Grangemouth. As I live but 5 miles from Grangemouth Scotland, is this name a painters name or a fifties personalised plate." Bobby McCulla 14/03/2017
"I entered a comment in 14/3/2017 about a plate with hand written Alice Edwards Grangemouth upon it. I now know who A.Edwards is but wonder why its so written on the bottom. Just a query I would like solved." Bobby McCulla 19/09/2017
"Hi I have a midwinter Zambezie saucer stamped 10-59. The rest of the set has sadly been broken over the years although i have still got the teapot but it is in bits. If these items are of interest to anyone please email me. Moira 9 October 2017" moira 09/10/2017
"I have gold trim red domino coffee cups and saucers, in the shape of Zambezi. Are these rare or just not popular? I can find no image of them anywhere. The cup base is square and are impression stamped Midwinter with number 7. The Saucers bases are transfer printed Midwinter England Staforshire with the number 8. Can you suggest where I could find out more information. Thanks." AJC 23/12/2017
"Hi I have a 6 place setting service called Stylecraft Midwinter in turquoise with white fern pattern and silver rims, including 3 sizes of plates, oval serving plates , coffee pot and cups plus also some similar items that have roses instead of ferns and are stamped ‘fashion’. All are in excellent condition with dates from 1959-1961.
Are these of any value ? Thanks" Linda Snow 02/01/2018
"Hi, has anyone a spare green lid for the Midwinter Countryside coffee pot? I broke mine and is beyond repair :-(
Thank you." Linda Pownall 10/01/2018
"Hello: I came across a small pin dish , 3 and a half inches in diameter, in good condition ( no chips, cracks or crazing, but a little surface fading.
The pattern is, I guess, stylised small flowers. On the back: a crown, 'Midwinter : England : Staffordshire and written.... M. Ramsay 1961 '
I'd be interested to hear from anyone with relevant information. Thank's. 21.02.18" I.B. 21/02/2018
We have a 'set' of over 100 pieces of Riverside, so are familiar with Stylecraft shapes etc.,
We have also acquired a coffee set in Stylecraft which we cannot identify.
The pattern is a gold and black rose, with a couple of grey pussy willow(?) and another smaller rose bud on the opposite side. Marked with queen's crown and Midwinter England Stafordshire...
Any ideas as to the pattern.
Great site BTW.
Robert" Robert Olive 08/04/2018
"It sounds like Mink Rose (1962). All the best" Steven 08/04/2018
" I have a midwinter brama semi porcelain bowl?
Its green with gold leaves and grapes, I can find other pieces with the same pattern but not like he bowl I have.
Any help would be nice." eric walker 25/06/2018
"I have a full dinner/tea set of Midwinter Stylcraft Kew Roses. I have never seen a full set shown anywhere, only bits for sale on line, one salad size plate missing, I dropped when brand new 1959? Please a photo `would be good and perhaps an idea of value? Many thanks" Pauline Braker 27/06/2018
"I have a Stylecraft Siebe Gorman plate ,number on the back is 224
never seen one before, would love to know its history." Jerry 29/08/2018
"I have a Cannes plate drawing by Hugh Casserole...it says a genuine hand engraving permanent acid resisting underglaze color by Midwinter Stylecraft...Staffordshire, England....Fashion shape...it has a number 6....could you tell me the value...thank you...." Susan Wakelin 30/08/2018
"I have 3 different WR Midwinter figures of American Baseball Players. They have all been broken at the ankles and re-glued. I cannot find anything about them but wondered if you could tell me anything and what their value would be please. Thank you." Valerie Skidmore 18/10/2018
"We have a set of 6 small bowls and 1 large bowl with Handpainted ware WRM BURSLEM ENGLAND backstmp The decoration is a green border with leaves and fruit of yellow and blue, loosely painted.
Do you know of this range and if so can you date it? The back stamp is not as other stamps published" john crooks 05/11/2018
"I have a pattern here in Australia 2-60. I cannot see pictures of it anywhere. Style craft fashion shape with a pink flower.
Any insights would be appreciated thankyou!" Janine 19/02/2019