Gustavsberg is Sweden's leading pottery manufacturer.
Originally a maker of pottery for general household items such as ceramic bathtubs and washstands, it is now recognized worldwide as a maker of tableware, ceramic plates, and ceramic ornaments.
For more information about the history of Gustavsberg, please see this article ↓ ♪
Bertha is Gustavsberg's representative tableware series.
(Photo: Versa series with lovely leaf patterns)
Meaning of "Bersa"
``Bersa'' is a Japanese term for an ``arbor'' that has only a roof but no walls in a corner of a garden or park.
It seems to be a phrase that is not used very often in Swedish.
By the way, in the home country it is spelled "Berså" , and the pronunciation is similar to "Besho", "Bersho", and "Bersoo", depending on the region.
The Versa is still Gustavsberg's signature product, and a reprint version is being produced at a factory in Sweden.
Production of reprints started in the late 1990s, but the Versa series, which is called vintage, is actually It was only manufactured for 13 years from 1961 to 1974.
The items we sell at our store are basically "works created over the past 13 years" half a century ago.
Reprints are newer and cleaner, and are also stronger because the kiln environment has been improved.
However, the vintage version of Bertha is more popular than the reprint version.
(Photo: Old and new Versa showdown, which cup do you prefer?)
See the photos of the cups above and below.
Which one is a reprint and which one is vintage?
If you are able to identify it, you are quite a connoisseur.
There is a clear difference in color between the reprint version and the vintage version.
The leaf stalks are characterized by a lush green color, and the black veins of the leaves are clearly visible.
(The correct answer is the reprint on the bottom and the vintage on the top.)
The colors of reprints have been improving over the past few years, but in reality, works from older eras have better colors (or better yet, form).
In the quarter century since production ended in 1974 until its revival, Gustavsberg seems to have completely lost its know-how in manufacturing Versa.
(Photo: Reprint and vintage Bertha back stamps)
How to identify reprints and vintage
To quickly tell the difference between the two, look at the back stamp on the bottom of the cup.
The reprint version has an anchor mark drawn on it.
Vintage items have a mark drawn specifically for the Versa series.
If you look closely, you can see that the letters in the company name are spelled differently: "Gusta f sberg" and "Gusta v sberg" (the difference is between "f" and "v").
These points can be said to be just differences in the marks, but the presence or absence of this leaf logo will make the viewer's heart dance.
The leaf logo has more detail, and I feel that it was from a time when vintage logos took more time and effort to create.
(Photo: Bersa piled up in a warehouse in Gustavsberg)
Background of discontinuation of production
The year 1974 , when Versa production was suspended, was the year of the oil crisis triggered by the Yom Kippur War. At that time, this major event had a serious impact on the Nordic tableware world.
Looking at the catalogs that list the year of manufacture, we find that not only Gustavsberg, but also other famous Scandinavian tableware manufacturers such as ARABIA and Rorstrand, all discontinued the production of popular tableware series in 1974 .
Not only Bersa, but also Paratissi, a masterpiece of Arabic tableware, ceased production in 1974.
Despite its popularity, this suggests that prices were soaring and fuel shortages were so severe that production had to be discontinued.
After the oil shock years, Scandinavian tableware began to show signs of a decline in its splendor and attention to detail that had been seen in its heyday.
Up until then, the 100% domestically produced tableware was replaced by simple decorations, and the number of plain patterned tableware without any decorations increased.
Nowadays, when we think of Scandinavian design, we focus on simple color schemes and shapes rather than drawing patterns! You may have an image of this, but such characteristics are rarely seen in Scandinavian tableware made before 1974 .
Scandinavian design exists as a result of competing in the current environment.
The masterpiece Paratissi was revived in 1988, and Bertha was also revived in the late 1990s, but when comparing the reprints with those before that, there are some issues in terms of reproducibility.
(Photo: Reprinted version of Paratissi)
(Photo: Vintage Paratissi manufactured in 1969. The pale color is a vintage characteristic.)
You can see that once production of something is stopped, a lot of know-how is lost.
In other words, it's just a slight difference in the thickness of the lines, the shade of color, or the form of the design, but the line between good and bad design is actually influenced by such minute differences.
I hope that many people will know that even if it is old, it is still good.
Until the end Thank you for reading.