Skip to content
Tudric and Cymric Wares: An Insight

Tudric and Cymric Wares: An Insight

Today the name of Arthur Lazenby Liberty (1843-1917) is intimately associated with the British Arts and Crafts movement. In fact, his genius was to marry the best designs of the period with modern methods of production.

Liberty first began selling pewter wares under the ancient-sounding name Tudric from his London department store in 1902. A similar range of silver wares branded Cymric had been launched three years earlier.

Liberty greatly admired the work of the Guild of Handicraft or the Birmingham Guild, but was well aware that handmade pieces were necessarily costly. Instead, following in the footsteps of the pewter wares made by the Kayserzinn and WMF factories in Germany, he embraced the automated techniques of spinning and die-casting and chose as his manufacturers the Birmingham metalworking shop of William H Haseler and the Whitefriars glassmaker James Powell.

This, says Phil Mires of PM Antiques & Collectables, is what made good design affordable to a much wider audience. “While adopting a similar aesthetic to that practiced by adherents to the Arts and Crafts movement, Tudric and Cymric wares are products of the machine age. Arthur Liberty attracted criticism at the time – Charles Robert Ashbee blamed him for the demise of the Guild of Handicrafts – but his was a commercial success story. “

The chief designer of these wares, and the figure key to their modern-day reputation, was Archibald Knox (1864-1933). Liberty engaged the services of the Manxman from 1898 and the collaboration lasted until 1912.

Knox brought to the Tudric and Cymric ranges his strong sense of Celtic ancestry. Stylised knots, whiplashes and organic motifs – sometimes embellished with enamel, cabochon stones or abalone shell – were his trademark. It’s no surprise that this was a collecting market that was reborn in the ‘flower power’ era of the 1960s.

Perhaps the most coveted pieces from the Tudric range are the series of Knox clocks – the best of them reminiscent of the ancient monolithic stones found on the Isle of Man. Some of these can bring five-figure sums. Other less iconic Knox designs are much more accessible. Pieces at PM Antiques start from a few hundred pounds with a rectangular tray with circular design of low relief tendrils to corners (model 0376) priced at £400 (illustrated below), a 34cm fruit bowl with pierced Celtic-inspired decoration c.1910 (model 0318) at £600 and a tobacco box and cover cast with a continuous band of plant forms (model 0193) at £700.

Knox’s work is distinctive but not signed – instead carrying only the Tudric mark and a model number. With only the odd exception (Mary Watts was one of them) Liberty was more concerned with cultivating his own brand than the names of the artists who worked for him. Other ‘anonymous’ designers who worked on the Tudric range include David Veazey, Oliver Barker and Rex Silver, Bernard Cuzner, Fleetwood Varley and Charles Voysey. Barker is the designer of some pleasing yet affordable wares: his twin-handled spill vase (model 030) set with enamel ‘cabochons’ is for sale with PM Antiques at £170.

Not all the Tudric designers are known. A scarce jug in the form of an owl with cowrie shell eyes is currently on offer for £700 (illustrated left). Its closest comparables are the similarly whimsical vessels made by the Barnstable potter CH Brannam that were also retailed by Liberty at the time.

Tudric and Cymric wares continued to the 1930s by which time tastes were changing. Later wares began to drop the Art Nouveau and Celtic Revival styles in favour of more austere forms and a new design vocabulary. These can be very reasonable: a simple milk jug and twin-handled sugar bowl (model 01536) are priced by PM Antiques at £50.

Looking to purchase a decorative piece of Tudric pewter? Take a look at our product pages for more information and to browse our current range. Feel free to contact us on 01932 640113 or if you have any questions or enquiries.

Previous article Lladro For Sale – Our Latest Collection