Antiques Column: The lids are alright for collectors

Pot lids by F and R Pratt.
Pot lids by F and R Pratt.

Recently we bought a new kettle. The old one was very battered and we’d had it for years. I imagine it had probably heated up the equivalent the Ladybower reservoir during its long and exciting kettle life.

When the new one appeared it really shone, but I now realise that I never really liked it because it can’t be filled without taking the lid off. We are not a family of lid removers, I haven’t taken a kettle lid off for as long as I can remember. Talking of lids makes me think of pot lids.

The coloured Pratt lids became works of art in their own right

Before plastic and other packaging materials, toothpaste, creams, pastes etc. were sold in earthenware pots. Today the lids of these have become collector’s items. There are basically two kinds of pot lid, the black and white kind and the coloured kind. The black and white ones were first to be made because initially it was only possible to print a design in a single colour.

One of the most well-known pot makers was F&R Pratt. By the 1840s Pratt and a couple more potteries had managed to develop a technique for printing a design of more than one colour and were producing multi-coloured pot lids before the end of the decade.

While initially pot lids carried information such as name of company, address and product, the coloured Pratt lids became works of art in their own right.

Increasing production costs and competition from newly developed packaging materials meant coloured lids were forced out of production by the start of the 20th century. Because of the relative cheapness of the black and white lids they commanded a much larger market and therefore were around for quite a few years longer than their coloured counterparts.