An interesting puzzle! Where do we start? Well let's look at the Venture pattern itself, which you would most likely date to the 1850s by style and execution? It is a non-specific location romantic scene, but it is well designed and engraved with lots of detail.
How does the apparent Ralph Hall attribution stack up? It is clearly a simple mistake as Ralph Hall never used the initials RH and if it was his pattern it would have been introduced at the time he operated as Ralph Hall & Co., from 1841 to 1849, when the initials RH & Co were used, but not RH. In Williams the cross reference to Godden for the RH backstamp is actually to a Ralph Hammersley backstamp, not Hall. In the third Williams volume, in the Mulberry Ware section, Williams corrects the original attribution to Ralph Hall by replacing him with Ralph Hammersley, so that is the end of Ralph Hall. Venture was never by him, but sadly it once appeared in print so now it must be true!
The next question is was it by Ralph Hammersley? He began potting in 1860 and did use the printed initials RH, often with associated pattern names, but apart from Williams' attribution to Hammersley, which was taken up by Kowalsky, there is no real evidence it was by him. The pattern itself appears a little early for Hammersley. No image of the backstamp is provided in either of the Williams' volumes and, by contrast, from Ellen Hill we have a well documented example of Venture being found with RB clearly marked on the backstamp. Also your recent purchase, Jane, is clearly marked RB (I took a look), so we have clear proof that RB made Venture and one might surmise at this stage that RH and RB printed badly could easily be confused, one for the other, and that was the fate that befell Williams, which if correct would mean that RH was never the maker of Venture.
That still leaves us with who was RB? Well there are between 15 to 20 potters in Staffordshire alone, who might have used those initials, but most are too early or too late or for other reasons can be dismissed. One candidate stands out - Robert Beswick. What do we know about him?
Well, Robert Beswick was born c1805 at Halliwell, Lancashire and by 1835 he was living in Tunstall, Staffordshire and married to a local girl. There is a newspaper report of his partnership with Thomas Lees as earthenware manufacturers of Tunstall being terminated on 31 July 1841. Jewitt records him as building the Swan Bank Works, High Street, Tunstall in 1842 and he appears there in Trade Directories from 1841 to 1856 as an earthenware manufacturer (and in 1851 also as a coal owner and builder etc!). Jewitt says that he continued at Swan Bank until 1860, when he retired from potting to concentrate on his coal mining interests, to which he added pawn-broking and farming.
Beswick retained ownership of the Swan Bank Works, which he split into two potteries, both carrying the same name of Swan Bank Works. One part was taken by Beech & Hancock from 1860 to 1862, then by Eardley and Hammersley from 1862 to 1868 and thence forward by Thomas Booth & Co. The second part was taken from 1860 by Ralph Hammersley (who was also the Hammersley in the Eardly & Hammersley partnership of 1862 to 1868) and Ralph continued in his own name until 1883, when he moved to Overhouse Pottery, Burslem and traded thereafter as Ralph Hammersley & Son(s). The Swan Bank Works were now amalgamated again with the Booth family as sole tenants.
That interpretation of the history of Swan Bank Works 1860 to 1883 is different from what has been generally published to date, but I believe it to be the only possible “correct” one based on the facts. It contains though, I suggest, the answer to our problem. Robert Beswick let the Swan Bank Works with all fixtures, fittings and contents to the successive tenants and Ralph Hammersley pulled out those Venture printing plates, replaced RB with RH and introduced his own “new” Venture design. Williams did not confuse RH with RB and there are too distinct makers.
In summary, Robert Beswick introduced Venture in the 1850s and Ralph Hammersley continued production under his own name or rather initials, in the 1860s. The RB came before the RH, but the timing of them appearing in print was reversed.
Now, has anybody out there got a piece of Venture with the RH backstamp? Indeed, has anybody got anything marked either RB or RH?
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