Despite John McHugh establishing his pottery in Launceston, Tasmania in 1873, the vast majority of their work collected today comes from the art deco period of the mid 1920's-30's.
The custom of marking their pottery with their name, often along with a year of manufacture, the word 'Tasmania' and a shape identification number or letter began in the early 1930's. Their wares were advertised as 'Autographed pottery'.
A friendly rival to McHugh's in the pottery trade was that of John Campbell's. He operated his pottery from a site only two blocks further down Wellington St. The 'Sandhill' area of South Launceston provided good quantities of suitable clay which saw quite a few brick and pipe manufacturers set up their businesses in the area.
Rather than competing fiercely against each other, McHugh's and Campbell's came to an early agreement in 1883 to take it in turns to provide the lowest quote for the council tenders for sewerage and drainage pipes. Even to the extent that if the pottery supplying pipes that year was experiencing difficulties with man power or time constraints, the other would share employees or help supply pipes to them. This friendly rivalry lasted for years and helped cement both McHugh's and Campbell's as the dominant pottery firms in Tasmania
The production of decorative art pottery was suspended during W.W.2, and in McHugh's case was never recommenced. From the war years up until the pottery closed in the late 1960's their production was purely agricultural and sewerage pipe work.
The pottery produced in the 1930's is well marked and easily recognised. The pieces produced in their earlier years 1890-1920 are a lot harder to identify, and very few pieces were marked.
A wide range of household, utilitarian pieces would have been made including jugs, baking dishes, hot water bottles, mixing bowls, foot warmers, crock pots, demi-johns etc. These have also become collectable, and in my own case even the pipe ware, junctions, gullies and chimney pots are just as important pieces in my collection.
I am always interested in adding pieces to the collection and am constantly on the lookout for shapes and sizes of vase that I don't have examples of, or colour variations that are different.
I'd like to make the 'Erin May Collection a comprehensive catalogue of McHugh's production pieces and any help along the way is greatly appreciated.more About Us