The golden age of Crown Lynn pottery

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A decade of crowning ceramics

Described as classic kiwiana, Crown Lynn pottery was a popular household feature in the 1960s. From its 1920s origins as brick and pipe manufacturers, the company expanded into the domestic market.

Successful Government lobbying to place higher tariffs on imported goods assisted in the company’s fortunes. By 1960 it reached its peak production of about 10 million pieces, becoming the largest pottery company in the Southern Hemisphere at that time.

Slide 1: The 1960s were a celebration of the new and Crown Lynn faced demands to develop shapes and patterns reflecting changing tastes. One initiative was the establishment of an annual design competition resulting in a number of entries being picked up by the company. Winning designs such as Otway Josling’s Reflections and runner-up Don Mills’ Narvick were popular sellers.

Slide 2: Along with a range of new dinner sets, Crown Lynn produced the ‘coffee can’ in 1963. Similar to a tea cup, the straight-sided cup was a novel concept to New Zealand’s caffeine connoisseurs.

Slides 3-4: The visit of Queen Elizabeth to its Auckland factory in 1963 was seen as a turning point in the so-called ‘snob wars’. Perceived as being inferior to British brands, the New Zealand-made product became more respectable to local consumers following the royal appearance. An ornate urn was specially presented during the Queen’s visit with lesser decorated replicas sold as souvenirs.

Slide 5: Fortunately you didn’t need to be the Queen of England to tour Crown Lynn as factory tours were introduced earlier in 1961. By 1986 around 150,000 people had visited the factory.

Slides 6-8: Growing market confidence saw the development of uniquely New Zealand designs with product names such as Egmont and Ponui. Traditional British rose patterns were replaced by forestry scenes like Sierra Pine. Crockery supplied for Air New Zealand in the mid 1960s featured earthy colours alongside a Maori kowhaiwhai pattern.

Slides 9-10: Crown Lynn commissioned international designers like the American Dorothy Thorpe. The Santa Barbara range launched in 1965 featured ball-handled coffee sets. While striking in appearance, they were difficult to hold and damaged easily. Not that this was a problem, as according to a Crown Lynn employee, 'you never used the damn things anyway'. Other designs released in this series included Pine and Palm Springs.

Slides 11-12: Crown Lynn embarked upon an exporting drive with Australia becoming the first international market. As well establishing numerous Australian outlets, the company won contracts with large organisations such as armed forces to supply tableware. Canada became another key market, leading to Crown Lynn being one of New Zealand’s top exporters for the 1960s.

Slide 13: Locally, five designs comprising of Autumn Splendour, Golden Fall, Shasta Daisy, Green Bamboo and Fashion Rose were promoted under an innovative policy which guaranteed that customers could purchase any replacements for broken items. No longer did a breakage mean owning an incomplete dinner set. Autumn Splendour went on to become Crown Lynn’s top seller in the 1960s.

Slide 14: To mark the changeover of New Zealand’s currency in 1967, Crown Lynn produced a cup and saucer featuring the new decimal system.

Slide 14: Not content with kitchens and dining rooms, Crown Lynn created items for the bathroom. The 1967 Feminine Approach range featured door handles, keyholes and light switch plates. Later, toilet roll holders, soap dishes, towel-rail holders and toothbrush stands enabled the use of Crown Lynn products throughout the house.

Celebrating the company's 21st anniversary in 1969, Crown Lynn’s founder Tom Clark remarked that 'only nine years ago Crown Lynn was a dirty word'. The success of the 1960s did not last, however, with import restrictions later lifted, economic difficulties and company takeovers all contributing to the demise of Crown Lynn in 1989. Ironically, 20 years on, Crown Lynn is more popular than ever, with pieces keenly sought out by collectors. Flick through any New Zealand interiors magazine and you will soon come across references to the brand. From op shops to auction houses, Crown Lynn has become desirable; businesses even hire out the company's iconic white swans. Once again, Crown Lynn is being adored by a new generation of Kiwis.

Further information



  • Gail Henry, New Zealand pottery: commercial and collectable, Reed Books, Auckland, 1999
  • Valerie Ringer Monk, Crown Lynn: a New Zealand icon, Penguin, Auckland, 2006

Community contributions

19 comments have been posted about The golden age of Crown Lynn pottery

What do you know?


Posted: 09 Sep 2015

Thanks Emma for the additional details. President Johnson visited NZ briefly in October 1966 and various websites do mention that the TEV Hinemoa was used a hotel ship for the visit. Anyway if you do find out anymore, please post these details on this website as I'm sure others will be interested to know more about the origins of these plates. Good luck with the ongoing search!


Posted: 05 Sep 2015

Thanks Fran. I have done a bit more research about the Hinemoa and have an idea which may explain about the dishes. The Hinemoa finished service as a ferry in Aug 1966 and then was used as a hotel ship for the press who were covering President Lyndon Johnson's visit to NZ in Oct 1966. I think these dishes might have been commissioned by the NZ government for use on the Hinemoa at this time and possibly a journalist took some back to North America. Perhaps the remaining dishes were destroyed after the visit which might explain why I haven't found anyone who has seen them before. They are apparently in new condition which would make sense if they had been used a couple of times. I have emailed a few other museums to see if this idea is plausible but haven't heard back yet. I'll contact that link you posted to see if I can find out anymore about them. Thanks for your help.


Posted: 02 Sep 2015

Your Hinemoa pieces are very interesting. They feature the same design used on Air New Zealand international flights that were introduced in 1965. I haven't been able to find any details confirming how these were manufactured for the ferry but the TEV Hinemoa was sold in 1967 - see There's an interesting blog about Air NZ Crown Lynn pieces at Titled 'Airways - a Collector's dream', these pieces would be equally valuable. The TEV Hinemoa was part of the Union Steamship Company, whose archives are now held by Wellington City Council - So you might want to contact the Council's Archives service to see if they can assist with this query.


Posted: 31 Aug 2015

Hi, just wondering if the inter islander ferry, Hinemoa, used Crown Lynn tableware? My dad has found some cups, saucers and plates with the same pattern that was used on the Air New Zealand dishes but with HINEMOA written across the top of each. The backstamp is very similar to the one on the back of the Air New Zealand dishes - say, "NEW ZEALAND By Crown Lynn POTTERIES NEW ZEALAND". I haven't been able to find anything about them. He found them at a garage sale in Canada and is keen to know more. Thanks.


Posted: 20 Jul 2015

The Crown Lynn shape guide lists shape no. 204 as an animal - see However it may have been produced by another brand within the Crown Lynn family such as Titian. You might be interested in the Portage Ceramic Trust's website at which features photos of various Crown Lynn pieces.


Posted: 12 May 2015

Hi I have a vase SB 204 trickle glazed -did crown Lynn make this? Thank you.


Posted: 14 Aug 2013

Not familiar with other pottery brands, so suggest consulting books such as 'New Zealand pottery marks', compiled by Alan Coates in 2003. I also checked 'Tea : a potted history of tea in NZ' which features some great examples of tea pots but unfortunately there were no references to SIRE/SIRL.

Brett Farmer

Posted: 11 Aug 2013

I have an earthy glazed pottery tea pot with cane handle with a potters mark that looks like "SIRE" or "SIRL" stamped on the base of the pot. The last letter is difficult to read. I think It was an NZ potter. It was bought in Auckland about 30 years ago and I would love to get some background info. Thanks


Posted: 23 May 2013

It does sound like Crown Lynn with the 'Made in NZ' mark. Early pieces of Crown Lynn including the number 30 can be found on the Crown Lynn Shape Guide facebook page at However the early number 30 piece is a vase rather than a jug. This jug could be a later piece produced for the hospitality industry. You might want to post a query on the shapes facebook page or another one at


Posted: 22 May 2013

I have a large plain white jug 28cm high. It is stamped underneath Made in New Zealand and stamped with the number 30. The handle is straight rather than curved. Do you know if this is Crown Lynn? I would appreciate your advice.