There seems to be an endless number of mottos on Torquay pots, some are pearls of wisdom, others humourous, still others classical quotations, others are custom inscribed personal messages, others commemorate special events. It is, in fact, possible to build a collection around a specific motto theme such as Commemoratives.
TPCS is building a data base of the mottos.
Chris Fessler of NATS has done substantial research on the meaning and origins of the mottos and the following material is taken from her paper. Bev Wintheiser contributed "of pots and Poets" to The Summer 2007 issue of The Torquay Collector following a visit with Chris. Other interesting articles on this subject are "Le Chien d'Or" (Pat Turner, Fall 2007) and "Specials or One-offs" (Chris Fessler, Winter 2008). Back issues of the magazine can be ordered from our Products Manager.
The selections are designed to show the variety of mottos and sources used by the Torquay potters
Some Pearls of Wisdom
"Success comes not by wishing
But by hard work bravely done"
The author of this motto is not known, but it was found in Handy Farm Devices and How to Use Them, Rolfe Cobleigh, published in U.S.A. 1909
"There is no wealth but life"
John Ruskin, 1819-1900; Unto This Last. Ruskin, a British poet was a founder and pioneer of the Arts and Crafts movement which greatly influenced the Torquay potters.
"This is the bravest sweetest plan
Trusting to God while you do what you can"
"Try all things and hold fast
To that which is good"
A Few Humourous Mottos
"A hair on the head
Is worth two on the chin"
Found on a shaving mug
"Oh! don't the days seem lank and long
When all goes right and nothing wrong"
Taken from Princess Ida by W.S. Gilbert
"Many are called but few get up"
This motto, a favourite on candle sticks, is a play on "Many are called but few are chosen" from Matthew 22.14
"A car on the road is worth two in the ditch"
Shakespeare was a favourite with the potters. A few samples.
"Be just and fear not" (Henry VIII)
"Heaven send thee merry days" (Merry Wives of Windsor)
"Love all, trust few
Do wrong to none" (All's Well That Ends Well)
"The night is long that never finds a day" (Macbeth)
"Brains always win
From Tom and Lily"
" A present
From Reg. 1921 "
Found on a cup and saucer and small plate.
Virgina Brisco has written a definitive book on these mottos that is available through the Society (see "Books"). Many were for Royal Occasions but others marked individual events such as association meetings, weddings or community events.