BISPM Search tips

Welcome to the site.

For those who are already regular users, thank you for your forbearance as the marks have been added; it’s taken a bit longer than expected to get this far, but there are now over 6000 potters/pottery entries on the database and over 16,000 records. My husband has resized the photos and speeded up the searches so you should find it a lot quicker and easier, especially on the mobile phone.

Hundreds of Irish studio pottery marks are now on BISPM, and many more names on the database awaiting photographs of the potters’ marks; I add them when I find them.

If anyone – collector or potter – would like to send in photos of potters’ marks missing from the database then I would be very happy to add them.

If you spot a mistake PLEASE let me know ( It’s inevitable they will creep in as the database grows – I’ve found photos under the wrong name or unedited.

Tips On Searching (updated):

The search function only searches for names and phrases ‘as they’re written’ in the database. It’s not like a Google search; strings of search words won’t work, and neither will putting any of the text in quotes. I’m currently removing a large number of middle names because of this and debating whether to have a list of forms of address for each potter in the bio so they’re all searchable. Adding a space after a word can also flummox the search because it won’t include any words that end with a full stop or comma. See separate blog post on using * and – for searching on incomplete words and sentences

Where they are commonly known by their shortened name, eg, Tony v’s Anthony, I have the format: First name Surname / Nickname Surname. There are some husband & wife teams where I have ‘&’ or ‘and’ between the names, or ‘First Name, Surname and partner’s First Name’, but I am gradually changing that to add the partner’s surname.

Watch out for words that don’t have spaces after them. I’m editing the text to add spaces but if you type in a surname and add a space afterwards it won’t find it on the database if there’s a comma or full-stop after the word – especially in addesses. Best to search on just the surname or pottery name if you’re not getting any results.

I’m currently going through the Text field and adding a short cut to searching for monograms, especially where it’s a double letter – AA, AD, HT, JJ, AA, SED etc. I’ve also added some descriptive words, such as swan, shield, gate, to make searching for those marks a bit quicker.

The Label field isn’t just used for paper labels; I’ve also ticked it where the place name is incised or stamped as that helps where the word is unreadable.

I haven’t always ticked the shape fields because it can be difficult to tell if the stamp was originally round or square or rectangular (there isn’t a field for oval). I go by the appearance of the mark in each photo rather than it’s representation in the marks books – I’m now going through shapes and adding one, even if it means ticking both the circle and square boxes for the same mark. If the stamp is an odd shape such as a pentagon or hexagon then I’ve added that word to the text field.

The Seal field means a mark that has been stamped on a ball of clay on the pot.

Some marks defy all description, eg, Brian Holland’s, so I’m happy to hear suggestions for search terms/descriptions.

Once the bulk of the marks are on the database I will go back through the entries and update the biographies. I’ll also add photos of the pots themselves, but that will take a few years which is why I’ve initially concentrated on the marks. Currently the additional photos are on my Pinterest boards so at least they are Googlable.