Stoke-on-Trent, which now likes to think of itself as “The World Capital of Ceramics”, has just launched an innovative idea which is aimed, in part, at over-turning some of the previous perceptions and prejudices about The Potteries.
The Backstamp Club appears to be built on pride (as well as a typically English sense of humour). Pride in the industry that has given the city its affectionate nickname; in the people who live and work there; and in a city which (almost unbelievably) attracts an incredible 4-million visitors from all parts of the globe each year.
The roots of the Backstamp Club go as far back as the turn of the 19th/20th century, when local author Arnold Bennett was an international celebrity on the world’s circuit, but at the same time celebrate the contemporary designs of the present-day Potteries populated by the likes of Emma Bridgewater, Wedgwood and Portmeirion.
It was Bennett who - on his international travels - was once ‘challenged’ for turning over a saucer, and had to explain that it is possible to recognise ANYONE who comes from Stoke-on-Trent, because of their automatic desire to turn over a cup, a saucer, or a plate, to check not only whether it was “Made in Stoke-on-Trent” but also the name of the manufacturer on its backstamp.
The Backstamp Club not only celebrates this endearing habit, but also carries with it another underlying message - that there is great pride in the fact that the name of Stoke-on-Trent, and very often “Made in England” or “Made-in-Britain”, is still carried world-wide by the fine china and ceramics of The Potteries.
As Arnold Bennett himself noted in his classic novel, The Old Wives Tale: "You cannot drink tea out of a tea-cup without the aid of the Five Towns, you cannot eat a meal in decency without the aid of the Five Towns”.
It’s free to join The Backstamp Club. And it’s open to anyone in the world. There’s the hope, too, that it could “go viral” - as more and more people are given the freedom to turn over their cups, plates and saucers and who, if challenged, can claim entitlement by showing their membership card.
Launched (fittingly enough) at the turn of the year it’s similar to Blue Peter badges in the way that there will also be a few highly sought-after cards gilded in gold, which will be allocated to anyone perceived as being a “Master Turner” - Gilt Card ambassadors, not only for the Backstamp Club, but also Stoke-on-Trent.
Membership for everyone, however, will also have its benefits - with regular offers for all card members being highlighted on the Visit Stoke website.
To join The Backstamp Club, visit Stoke's website.
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