Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Not Such an Early John Leggott Paperweight

Recently I bought on TradeMe, from my usual supplier of Taranaki glass goodies, a paperweight.  It’s a good piece, well made, but what especially attracted my attention was the signature.  It seemed to be clearly signed J. Leggott ’81 N.Z. Now what made that interesting is that the story goes (not the least as provided by John Leggott in an interview in the Taranaki Herald in 1988) that there was this New Plymouth potter called John Leggott, who had previously been potting in North Queensland and fishing on the Barrier Reef. He saw the Pacific Glass ‘83 exhibition at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, in 1983, and was so impressed by the wonder of glass that he set up his own glass studio at his pottery workshop in Kellyville Heights, Merrilands in New Plymouth.  There are four pieces in Stuart Park’s glass collection signed J. Leggott ’85, so one would assume they were relatively early pieces John made there.

But my friendly TradeMe supplier was quite sure that this said '81.  He's an honest and reliable sort, so I put in my bid and was successful.  And sure enough, when the piece arrived, it certainly seemed to be dated '81. It must be said there is a little mark near the top of the 1, but it certainly looked like a 1.

So that presented a conundrum.  Like so many NZ glass artists, John Leggott has always been helpful in responding to my enquiries, so I shot off an email to him.  Back came the reply from John:

'Yes, that weight was definitely made by me, Probably at Kellyville studio.  My guess is that I slipped with the Dremel when signing it and it should read '87 ... The bottom of the weight is not ground and the resultant curvature leading into the punty mark makes for some difficulty when using a cheapo vibrating diamond-point tool.'
So I don't have an antediluvian rarity after all, and it is confirmed that indeed John was not making glass in 1981. But it is a nice piece and I don't have any other paperweights John made, so I am pleased to add it to my collection.

Here are the 1985 pieces by John Leggott I already had, still the earliest of his in my collection: