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Charlotte Rhead

Debbie Porter

Charlotte Rhead was born in October 1885 in Burslem.  Charlotte Rhead was an English ceramics designer who was active in the 1920’s and in the 1930’s in the Potteries area of Staffordshire.

Charlotte Rhead was born into an artistic family.  Her father, Frederick Alfred Rhead began his career as an apprentice at Mintons where he learnt the art of pate-sur-pate ceramic decoration.  He went on to work at a number of potteries including a failed venture of his own.  Charlotte’s mother, Adolphine (nee Hurten) also came from an artistic family.  Charlotte’s elder brother, Frederick Hurten Rhead, became a well-known pottery designer in America.

At the beginning of the 20th Century the Rhead family were living in Fenton where Charlotte and her sister Dollie studied at the Fenton School of Art.  Charlotte started work at Wardle and Co, a pottery in the nearby town of Hanley, where her brother Frederick was art director before emigrating to the USA in 1902.  Charlotte did not stay at the firm long, but it gave her the opportunity to develop her skills as a tube liner, which would be useful to her in her future career as a designer.

In 1905 Charlotte found employment as an enameller at Keeling & Co of Burslem. She was next employed as a designer at a tile-maker, T & R Boote.  See these two lots from an auction in September 2016 where we sold a rare tube lined tile by Charlotte Rhead for £500, and an auction in March 2019 where we sold a pair of Charlotte Rhead tube-lined plaques for £480.

A rare Charlotte Rhead tile tube lined with Conway Castle in oak frame, sold at auction by Potteries Auctions

Lot 1284 in the 26 September 2016 auction: A rare Charlotte Rhead tile tube lined with Conway Castle in oak frame, overall size 34 x 19cm. Estimate £200.00 – £400.00. Sale Price: £500.00

A pair of Charlotte Rhead rectangular plaques with tube lined decoration, sold at auction by Potteries Auctions

Lot 588 in the 9 March 2019 auction:  A pair of Charlotte Rhead rectangular plaques with tube lined decoration, one of comical ducklings dressed in clothes and the other of a fish and frog, both in original oak frames, 27cm x 19cm overall (2). Estimate £400.00 – £800.00. Sale Price: £480.00

In 1912 Charlotte joined Wood and Son, a firm which operated several potteries, taking charge and later working as a designer.

Charlotte is perhaps best known for her association with Burgess and Leigh of Middleport, where she worked as a designer from 1926 until 1931.  At Burgess & Leigh she produced some of her best designs and that are the most sought after designs by modern day collectors. This example shown below of what is thought to be an unrecorded design fetched a record price at auction in our July 2019 auction.

A Burgess & Leigh Charlotte Rhead charger decorated with three swans on a pond with lilies, sold at auction by Potteries Auctions

Lot 6 at our 13 July 2019 auction: A Burgess & Leigh Charlotte Rhead charger decorated with three swans on a pond with lilies, diameter 36cm (slight small underglaze fault to edge). Estimate £300.00 – £600.00Sale Price: £3300.00

Their factory is still operating, now as Burleigh Pottery.  In the 1930s she moved to the firm of AG Richardson in Tunstall. Their brand name was Crown Ducal where she designed and produced many popular designs that were still in production after her death in 1947 until the early 1960s.

Selling Charlotte Rhead At Auction

If you have a Charlotte Rhead collection or individual pieces you’re looking to sell, our staff is well-placed to provide valuations and advice on selling your items. Call 01782 638100 or email to book a valuation appointment to attend one of our Tuesday valuation days.

We also provide valuations via WhatsApp, simply send some clear photographs of your items via the app to 07864 667940. Additionally, we can send you links to our catalogues via WhatsApp–message the above number via the app and ask to receive our catalogues. Make sure you are subscribed to our email newsletters, too!