McHugh Art Ware Pottery

McHugh Pottery Golden Retriever Door Stop

From what I have been able to determine McHugh’s production of Art Ware was over a very limited period. I have discussed this with Robert (the curator of the “Erin May Collection”), Andrew (the curator of “The McGowan Collection”) and Ross Pentreath. By looking at these collections we have determined that about one third of the examples in these collections are dated between 1933 and 1935. Ross tells me that he does have one pot dated 1932. It is our belief that McHugh only produced art ware between perhaps 1932 at the earliest and 1936 at the latest. 

 McHugh Pottery Majolica Leaf Plate

There are three names that are associated with the McHugh’s Art Ware production.  Henry Trevena was in charge of the manufacture of McHugh’s Art Ware. The thrower, glazier and mould maker Danny Beckett and the glazier Francis Manallack, both of whom had honed their skills in various potteries in Victoria. On page 103 of “The Pottries of Brunswick”, Gregory Hill talks about Francis Manallack and his link with McHugh. Greg says that it was Francis Manallack who was responsible for the cobalt glaze that was employed at McHugh to such a striking effect. Greg relates how Francis Manallack was lured to Launceston early in the 1930’s by the promise of a partnership in pottery.

McHugh Pot Dated 1938

After an argument with the management, in 1936, Manallack and McHugh Bros. Pty Ltd parted ways. Of course as was the custom with glaziers, Manallack had kept the exact recipe of his glazes a secret, so without Manallack glazes McHugh’s production of Art Ware was over. The pot above is dated 1938, this is quite crude in form and glaze and it really bears no resemblance to the McHugh production of the 1932 to 1936 period.

McHugh Mark Dated 1938

Even the maker’s mark seems to be a rather rudimentary copy of the mark that was used just a few years earlier. If the date on the base of this vase is correct I can only conclude that by 1938 McHugh had lost the ability to produce the quality of the production that they where producing between 1932 & 1936.  

 McHugh Tree Trunk Book Ends

 What sets McHugh’s production above that of their contemporaries (such as John Campbell Pty Ltd) are the impressive range of glaze colours that they employed. If you scan through the shapes below you will see the full majesty of their glazes. To me the outstanding examples of McHugh glazes are the three examples of shape 60 below, I have resized these images as the vase are different sizes. 

 3 McHugh Shape 60's

It has always interested me that the colours and the “Drip Glaze” method employed by such Aussie companies such as McHugh, Campbell and Remeud is in the style of the Arts & Craft movement in Britain. In the UK this style of pottery had basically died out by the late 1920’s, here in Australia it had a life that went in the case of Remued right up until 1956.

 British Arts & Craft Pottery

British manufacturers employing this style of production are C.H. Brannam Ltd of Bairnstaple in Devon (Jug above on right), Ruskin Pottery of Birmingham and Minton Hollins of Stoke on Trent in Staffordshire (twin handle vase above on left). What began in Britain as the dark subdued colours of the Arts & Craft era ended as bright and bold colours of Aussie Pottery. 

McHugh Pottery Standard Mark

There are two style of incized base marks on the base of McHugh pottery. The mark above is the standard mark, these have been inscribed by more than one hand so there always some veriation. On page 157 of the “Encyclopedia Of Australian Potter’s Marks”, Geoff Ford shows an example of the makers mark in the style of the one below and attributes this mark is attubuted to Henry Trevena.

McHugh Pottery Henry Trevena Mark

There are two styles labels used for the marking of McHugh Art Pottery, the first is a silver foil on brown paper and the second is a red and silver foil label

McHugh Bros. Pottery Foil Label


McHugh Pottery Silver & Red Paper Label

There is also a stamped under glaze mark that is occasionally used on the base of McHugh Pottery. It reads "H McHugh, Launceston". Geoff Ford dates this mark from 1926 to 1939, I have only ever seen one art ware pot with this mark, it is a fairly nondescript shape number 10.

 McHugh Rubber Stamp Maker's Mark


McHugh Figural and Decorated Shapes

To me the best and the MOST sought after of McHugh’s production are the figural and decorated shapes. These pieces are the hardest items to come by and the most keenly contested when they do come up at auction. It almost goes without saying, but these are the most expensive items to obtain. 

McHugh Dogs

The McHugh Dogs come in two styles, the Retriver and the Kelpie, both are sitting on a plinth, but the Retriver had long hair where the Kelpie is short haired with pointed upright ears. I have seen Retriver done in black and white white and called  called a Border Collie.


 Golden Retriever Door Stop


33 cm (13") long & 17.5 cm (7") tall



Retriever Door Stop


Image courtesy of Graham Mulligan



Kelpie Door Stop

McHugh Pottery Kelpie on Green Plinth


McHugh Pottery Kelpie on brown plinth

33 cm (13") long & 22 cm (8.75') tall





McHugh Frog - prostrate


McHugh Frog

16.4 cm (.6.5") long, 17.1 (6.75") wide & 9 cm (3.5") tall. 

This is the first example I have seen of a prone frog, all the other example that I have seen have been sitting up.




Large McHugh Frog

10 cm (4") tall

This Frog is clearly marked to the base McHugh, Tasmania.



Frog (unmarked)

Frog - attributed to McHugh


Frog - attributed to McHugh 

7 cm (2.75") tall

This Frog is not marked, but it has been attributed to McHugh



Tree Trunk Bookends

McHugh Tree Trunk Bookend

12.5 cm (5") tall & 7.5 cm (3") wide


McHugh Tree Trunk Bookends

The colour of the single bookend is truer than that of the two book ends together. Both of the Bookends are clearly signed, this is the only set of these I have ever seen.



 Majolica Leaf Plates


Majolica Leaf plates come in a range of sizes, the smallest of the pair below has 12.5 cm (5") diameter where the larger of the leaves has a diameter of 25 cm (10").




Character Jug or Toby Jug




 Vine Leaf Pin Dish

McHugh Pottery Vine Leaf Pin Dish


McHugh Vine leaf Pin Dish

Most of the Vine Leaf Pin Dishes that I have seen are in the style of the one above, but the dish below has been further decorated with incised lines. This is an interesting and in my view quiet attractive variation.
McHugh Vine Leaf Pin Dish - veriation