Plichta & Wemyss


The names of Plichta and Wemyss are commonly and often mistakenly associated and confused. Hopefully the following notes will help clear up some of the inconsistencies and anomalies that are common.
• Wemyss was a Scottish pottery producing rare, collectable pottery until its closure in 1930.
• Jan Plichta was a wholesale china retailer in London between 1930 and the late 1950's.

Wemyss (pronounced Weems) pottery has for a long time had a tradition for producing rare and highly collectable pottery. Prices in the thousands are not uncommon and two Wemyss Ware piglets sold for nearly £70,000 at Sotheby’s annual Scottish Sale at Gleneagles in 2004. The Fife Pottery of Kirkcaldy in Scotland started about 1820 as Robert Heron & Son, producing creamware articles and subsequently used the name of Wemyss Ware in honour of the family from the nearby Wemyss Castle. Artists were brought from central Europe in the mid-1880's and the name of Karel Nekola became synonymous with the Wemyss style of decoration for the next 33 years.

Wemyss Ware was sold exclusively by Thomas Goode of Mayfair, London.Following the Depression of the 1920's the pottery failed and in 1930 the
Bovey Pottery in Devon bought the rights to produce Wemyss ware and employed Karel Nekola's son, Joseph, as their painter. Distinguishing between wares from the Fife and Bovey potteries is difficult but experts can tell from the colouration.

These two photographs of a Wemyss pig are not of the genuine article. This burgundy coloured pig is a fake and there are a lot of them being sold at the moment and quite a number appear on the eBay auction site so beware.
  When Karel Nekola's son Joseph moved from Fife to Devon as the designer, apart from producing Wemyss pottery he also trained new apprentices. One of these was Esther Weeks and Nekola taught her how to paint the famous 'cabbage rose' pattern along with other techniques he had learnt from his father Karel.  
  When Joseph died in 1952 Esther Weeks became head decorator in his place. There was little or no Wemyss pottery produced during the 1960s and 70s, but in 1985 the Griselda Hill pottery started to produce it back in Scotland, not far from the original Fife pottery. Esther Weeks painted the Wemyss ware and also taught new painters the skillful art of the original Wemyss masters. The 'Wemyss Ware' trade mark now belongs to the Griselda Hill Pottery. This cabbage rose pig is a Wemyss piggy bank as produced by Griselda Hill.  

The following photographs are all of Plichta piggy banks

Plichta: length 11.0 cms: height 6.5 cms
A group of 'Plichtas'
Plichta: length 9.5 cms: height 6.0 cms

Jan Plichta was a Czech who emigrated to England in the early 1900's and set up as an exporter and wholesaler of glass and pottery. He worked from the flat above his small warehouse at 37 Store Street, Bedford Square, London. He was a wholesaler and at no time did he manufacture or decorate any of his pottery. From the end of the war he became one of the Bovey Pottery's best customers and had his name marked on the Wemyss wares that he ordered from them. Plichta items from the Bovey Pottery were marked ‘Plichta', ‘Plichta, London, England' or ‘Plichta, London, Made in England' applied by stamp under the glaze.

Plichta rarely dealt with items carrying the Wemyss mark but did deal in different quality wares from Bovey; the real original Wemyss ware, decorated by Nekola in the traditional Wemyss style and the cheaper less detailed items from the general pottery. Not all models carrying the Plichta marks were made at Bovey Tracey as he is also know to have bought from The Elton Pottery of Thomas Mayer.
Plichta: length 11.0 cms: height 8.0 cms
Some designs were produced at both potteries and the experts can distinguish the source from the method of glazing. No one seems absolutely sure what happened to Jan Plichta after the mid-1950's but he is known to have been in poor health for some years.
Plichta: length 9.0 cms: height 6.5 cms

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