Huge thanks to Dave Turpin and Richard Maskell for getting in touch.
Dave provided information about his 3 times great grandfather, John Turpin [1799-1864], and references a document of 1851 detailing John Turpin's bankruptcy, which describes him as 'also carrying on business in my own name, as an Earthenware Manufacturer, at Bensham Pottery, at Bensham, in Gateshead aforesaid' (please see Dave's comment on my previous post for the full extract).
Richard e-mailed me last week with images of another rare Turpin-impressed item. It is a small willow pattern plate and, interestingly, it has a letter B in the centre of the mark.
Richard points out that 'on Staffordshire pieces an extra letter in a mark usually stands for the initial letter of the town the pottery is situated in : T = Tunstall, B = Burslem etc.' He has raised the possibility that the B, in this case, stands for Bentham.
I am aware of impressed makers' marks with letters or numbers whose significance is less clear. For instance, Moore items are found with an impressed 'B' and and impressed 'M' (see left and centre below). Scott's items appear with a letter 'S', which could stand for 'Southwick', but it is possible that there are Scott marks with other letters.
But in Turpin's case, the letter 'B' appears to have been used with some consistency. So it does seem entirely possible that the 'B' signifies Bentham – a factory that has hitherto eluded the reference books on North East pottery.
Stephen Smith lives in London, and is always happy to hear from other collectors. If you have an interesting collection of plaques, and are based in the UK, he will photograph them for you. Free advice given regarding selling and dispersal of a collection, or to those wishing to start one. Just get in touch...
This website is indebted to collectors, dealers and enthusiasts who have shared their knowledge or photos. In particular: Ian Holmes, Stephen Duckworth, Dick Henrywood, Norman Lowe, Keith Lovell, Donald H Ryan, Harold Crowder, Jack and Joyce Cockerill, Myrna Schkolne, Elinor Penna, Ian Sharp, Shauna Gregg at the Sunderland Museum, Keith Bell, Martyn Edgell, and Liz Denton.