1934 was a pivotal year for Premier Pottery Preston. At the start of that year the Remued brand was already in production as well as the longer-established PPP. There was as yet no system of standard shape numbers. Allan James was working as junior potter alongside David Dee. David Dee's health was deteriorating, foreshadowing the blow that would soon occur - he died in mid-March, aged 57, and the fate of the pottery hung in the balance. Reg Hawkins assumed the running of the business. Within two weeks he married Noni Deumer who injected capital ('Remued' is Deumer spelt backwards). Hawkins set about systematising the product range and set up shape-numbering systems. Remued and PPP shapes were assigned numbers (the 'Early Series' of this catalogue) and Pamela shapes were given their own separate number series ('Pamela Series'), but soon afterwards the PPP and Pamela names were both dropped. Most PPP shapes disappeared although some continued with the Remued name. Many Pamela shapes were absorbed into the Early Series with new numbers and the Remued name. PPP shapes are found scattered through the Early Series numbering up to about no.150, whereas ex-Pamela shapes are mostly found between about 140 and 200.
By the end of 1934 all production was under the Remued name. Every piece now had a shape number incised to base, except for a few specials and commemorative pieces. The young Allan James had taken on the role of principal thrower.
Remued pottery entered what many consider its golden age, characterised by luscious drip-glazes and often adorned with gumleaves and gumnuts. Rough-shaped twig handles started to appear, not only on jugs as before but now also as purely decorative additions to vases and bowls. Applied decoration also featured grapevines, and more rarely koalas and other creatures (click here for Early Series animal examples). Pieces with applied decoration are amongst the most sought-after today. Matt glazes came to be increasingly featured, typically on the upper body in combination with gloss below.
Base incised 118 Remued 1934
Inscriptions like this one - with a shape number and a date - are rare and of great value in piecing together the history of the Remued range. If you have any Remued piece with such an inscription we'd be delighted to hear from you! Contact us.
Most Early Series pieces are signed 'Remued' and many of the larger pieces also have the words 'Hand Made' incised into the base. Smaller pieces in the 400 range however are often unsigned. A complication in Early Series numbering is that many shapes in the initial number range soon ceased production (including most PPP shapes) and their numbers were subsequently re-allocated to new shapes. There also appear to be cases where, amidst the haste of daily production and a rapidly expanding number series, two shapes inadvertently received the same number. One was soon assigned a new number but not before some pieces had been produced with the wrong number incised (see for example Early Series 28).
Documentary evidence regarding Early Series shape numbers is limited. Mere fragments of original potters' shape books survive (unlike the Later Series which is well documented) and there are sales brochures from wholesale agents Barlow & Sons Pty.Ltd. that show selected shapes, but establishing shape numbers has to rely mostly on finding examples. Luckily the surviving shape book fragments do provide valuable confirmation of the practice of re-allocating numbers (see for example Early Series 177).
The '400 range' of the Early Series
The onward march of shape numbers seems to have taken a pause somewhere around the mid-300s. Modelled animals by John Castle-Harris feature prominently around 330 - 340, and a small separate numbering series appeared, the 'Alphabet' Series, featuring sprig-moulded birds and animals. Whatever was happening to the numbering just then, it was followed by a long break. When new Early Series shapes next appeared their numbers re-commenced from 400. By then there had been a change in the pottery's style and emphasis. We find no more animal or gumleaf decoration, smaller pieces are often unsigned, the words "Hand Made" don't appear - all a foretaste of the Later Series.
The highest Early Series number yet recorded is 478, a log vase. By then the Early Series would soon be replaced by a completely new numbering series, the 500 Series, probably in 1941 or 1942.
Depending on shape and decoration, Early Series pieces nowadays range from extremely rare to relatively common. For the catalogue index of Early Series numbers click here.