Great news we have acquired a new sister website called Porcelain Zone where we hope to illustrate individual objects from various collections that we hope might be of interest. you will find the new site linked in the menu – but for quickness – www.porcelain.zone. As a result we are updating the look for Antiques Review and MarksOnChina.com to make moving between the sites more seamless.
For over a hundred years European countries sought for ways to create a fine hard paste that could compete on an equal footing with the popular porcelain pouring in from China via the Tea Clippers and Dutch Trading Ships. The problem, in the UK, was that the key ingredient was Kaolin that gave whiteness to the finished pottery and elasticity to the wet clay making it more malleable and finer that earthenware – although by modern standards Kaolin, on its own, lacks plasticity . Very few natural deposits had been found until the middle of the eighteenth Century, when William Cookworthy found deposits of Moor stone and Growan Clay in Cornwall.
Cookworthy immediately started to experiment from his Plymouth based pottery and by 1768 he had patented a formula that mixed the Growan Clay with other more traditional clay mixes and another new ingredient commonly called China stone or Petuntse (a feldspathic rock) that gave the fired clay translucency. Plymouth was, therefore, the first producer of what we now call British hard paste porcelain, inherited in turn by Bristol and then Worcester.
The patent, however, left other potteries now competing with white Plymouth porcelain in addition to Chinese porcelain and Dutch tin glazed delft ware. Even though Kaolin was discovered in Staffordshire they were forced to develop their own pastes and formulae from their own local clays, until a collaborative group of potters bought Cookworthy’s patent in the late eighteenth century.
One of the most distinctive of these interim pastes we know as Creamware. Made with finely powdered clay, it was more malleable, smoother and easier to work on than Delft clay that was powdery and brittle and easily broken (relying to an extent on the strength given to it by its tin glaze). The more delicate and creamy warmth of the fired clay coming from potteries like Leeds lent itself to the bold colours favoured by Dutch decorators. Strong, but very light next to Delft, Creamware was exported in quantity as blanks to be decorated in Holland and Dutch decorators came to the UK to work in the potteries. Leeds is particularly notable for its success in this field and its wares were extremely popular in Holland.
Admiral Lord Nelson ordered so much of this pattern from Chamberlains, Worcester that it is now named for him. Key features of this English imari pattern are the animals that hide in its borders. Coalport also made this pattern and there are several variants. Dating from c.1805-1815 here are two Coalport examples – with close-ups of the animals
Continuing on the Imari theme – I thought it might be interesting to look at closeups of a couple of pieces – and at the pitfalls of collecting – this pair dates from around 1720 – they are not quite the same as each other – the reds are slightly different, the level of gilding is different, the underglaze blue is differently spaced – so different ends of the factory? different artists? or maybe one is a replacement. See the reference piece on Gotheborg also shown below. Be careful though as this is a pattern that was copied with surprising accuracy by Doccia between 1760 and 1800 – so I include a dish from the Victoria & Albert museum online collection (black Background) dated by them as just pre 1800 which has Doccia’s marks on the back BUT a) not all Doccia is marked b) Doccia was one of the earliest European manufacturers to produce a convincing hard paste porcelain that is quite hard to differentiate from Chinese export pieces unless you have handled a lot – I have a piece and it was wrongly attributed by several experts including a well-known Auction house until I went to a specialist Museum in Cambridge (and a major auction house) who both recognised it.
Below a Doccia plate from the V&A Museum – late 18th Century
Several factories are known to have used this decoration and research is still continuing – reference pieces include these two teapots.
Both teapots have been under scrutiny from acknowledged experts and both are still the objects of study.
Teapot 1 first appeared in print in Goddens’ Porcelain Maunfacturer’s book (here attributed to Cambrian Pottery, but later put into a “problem” Category as you can see below).
What makes attribution so difficult is, oddly, not the lack of pattern numbers or maker’s marks, though, clearly these don’t help. What makes it hard is the non-conformity of style, paste, design, glaze, shape and pattern between these pieces and other contemporary named pieces.
Current thinking is that Teapot 1 is probably A & E Keeling (formerly known as Factory X). Its hybrid paste and format putting it 1795-1800
Teapot 2 appears in Michael Berthoud’s second Teapot reference book (A Directory of British Teapots) as Plate 608 however the attribution to Turner is speculative and open, still, to debate (especially by at least one Turner collector).
Even more difficult to identify, it has also been suggested that it was an experimental piece of porcelain – certainly no other with this combination of spout and handle is known in hybrid paste. At one point it was mooted that it might be a Haynes experiment involving Rogers – but no corroborative documentation has been found.
My belief is that one of the teabowls and the saucer below may well have been made by the same factory as Teapot 2 (if not decorated by the same decorator).
A Collector based in the Costa Blanca area of Spain has just approached us for advice on how to sell these interesting and well provenanced Chinese Artefacts – so your help is enlisted – what is the best place to put these items – if you have an Auction House or are a Dealer, are any of these items that you could help with? The largest object is very, very heavy – the purchase receipts are dated 1989. Please comment here or email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us @AntiquesRev on Twitter if you are able to assist
The wealth of designs on Chinese Blue and White Porcelain is astounding and is far more broad than one might expect, from Turner’s version of the “Willow Pattern”. My joy in collecting Chinese Blue and white is to explore the diversity – and small coffee cups are an inexpensive way to build up a substantial base for research (and a nice display)
These late 18th Century Chinese cups are all hand painted, all blue and white and all very different different
Even these two cups from the same set are, obviously, painted by two totally different artists
These three cups are all of buildings. The first is a striking attempt at a Church – described but not seen. The second has bricks which I have not seen before on Chinese Porcelain and the third is so classically what the English expected, on their blue and white, that it could almost be a copy from an English Transfer Pattern.
The four bridges on the following three cups are, again, all different; yet the three willow trees are surprisingly similar. Note the superior quality of the painting in the centre cup to its fellow on the left. NB The fourth bridge is in the background of the third cup!
Three Cups and a bunch of Flowers!
Embellished with English Gilding and high detail
A Sense of Humour and the wonkiest buffalo ever!