After taking a break from my previous project, I have taken on a new area of study.  My research has ultimately led me to a somewhat surprising location: ebay. John Austin suggested I tackle one of his most prized portions of Thorley’s papers, and this is his sketchbook.  The ideas contained within its pages reflect what he believes to be Thorley’s years as director of arts at Chelson China/New Chelsea Porcelain Company.  The sketchbook is comprised of sketches in all stages of refinement, from rough scrawls to refined, nearly finished drawings.  Mr. Austin has already managed to match up much of the works he owns from Thorley’s tenure at Chelson/New Chelsea with sketches from the book, and he is thus led to believe that many of the other sketches must have ended up as works also.

I have found myself spending countless hours perusing the internet, primarily ebay, in hopes of discovering new matches that we could then safely attribute to Thorley.  Unfortunately, I have had very limited success thus far, albeit I have made several small finds.

The biggest breakthrough could occur, however, if I could somehow gain access to the records of New Chelsea Pottery, which contain nearly all of their pattern books representing the works they manufactures.  I was unaware that these records even existed until I stumbled across them one day while looking for old New Chelsea patterns.  If I could see these, I believe I could fairly safely which of the drawings from Thorley’s sketchbook became works that could then be attributed to him.  The largest impediment to this breakthrough, however, is that the records do not appear to be available online, and are located in public archives in Stoke-on-Trent, England.  I am still waiting to hear back from the head archivist regarding how I could possibly gain access to them from the United States, if at all, and am crossing my fingers for good news.


  1. Susan Webster says:

    Nick, Sounds like you’ve really made good headway on this project. The existence of the New Chelsea Pottery archive indicates that you’ll clearly need to make a trip to England!