Harry Kelly, Writer and Expert on Scottish Ceramics

Harry Kelly died in 2008 – he bequeathed a collection of ceramics to The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery at Glasgow University further information

Harry Kelly

Henry E. (Harry) Kelly is a talented writer, and enthusiastic and friendly West End character and a real expert on Scottish Ceramics. His knowledge of the subject is awesome and his collection breathtaking. His particular interest lies in Scottish spongeware which he believes is the “best” – you can check this out for yourself by visiting the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University (where Harry was once a student) – he has gifted most of his spongewear collection to the Museum.

Jim and I had a great time visiting Harry whose enthusiasm is infectious. Harry is hooked on ceramics and has a truly wonderful collection: beautiful plates, jugs, bowls, urns, basins, figures, serving dishes can be found on every available surface in his home – and amazingly he can tell you everthing about each individual item. He has many interesting anecdotes and I enjoyed his story about when visiting a school in the Shetlands talk to the children about spongeware and delighted when they brought in samples from thier homes including jugs “where my daddy keeps his brushes”

Scottish Ceramics by Henry E Kelly

His ‘hobby’ developed as a result of going on archeological digs around the West of Scotland in the 60s. This interest has continued to the present day – currently he is President of the Scottish Pottery Society and he is passionate about the subject. Over the years Harry’s interest, expertise and collection have grown at an impressive rate. His knowledge of ceramics and the history of the Scottish Potteries has been captured in his wonderful book “Scottish Ceramics” published by Schiffer in 1999. This Schiffer Book for Collectors, which is beautifully illustrated with photographs by Douglas Leishman, is fascinating and is much more than a collector’s guide. It paints a vivid picture of the history of Scotland’s many potteries from the Borders to Fife (where Wemyss Ware was made); and includes the Glasgow Potteries such as: Bell’s “the most important pottery in the history of the Scottish industry”; Possil Pottery which made “some of the finest porcelain ever produced in Britain”; the Britannia Pottery with its glorious Omar Khayyam designs and The Deltfield formed in the middle of the 18th century by Glagow Merchants and whose products were exported to areas “across the Atlantic Ocean”.


“Scottish Ceramics” is full of fascinating information and its original research “sets the record straight” on Scotland’s contribution to ceramics found throughout the world. It brings to life this fascinating part of Scotland’s history and is totally abosorbing – unlike most history books it is also a feast for the eyes, showing the remarkable and extensive range of ceramics produced in the various potteries.
I have pored over this book for hours and just know that antique browsing is never going to be the same again! I look forward to Harry’s new publication on Scottish Spongeware which will be published by Schiffer later this year.

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This section: People: Local Glasgow West End Characters

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Avatar of JimByrne West End based web Developer, writer, songwriter and musician. And the person who takes lots of photos for the Glasgow West End website.

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