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.
I was delighted to find your site and look forward to reading future issues. With this message is a picture of a pair of small figures which I inherited. I know they are at least forty years old but wonder if you could tell me anything about them? Are they likely to be valuable? I really don’t want to sell them but it might be silly not to.
Best of luck with your new publication.
(Name & email address supplied)
Thank you for your contribution and best wishes.
As far as I can see your figures appear to be hand painted, unglazed earthenware & I would guess are over a hundred years old – possibly continental. They do not strike me as being fantastically valuable and I would suggest that you keep them until you can get them checked by an expert.
If there are any marks underneath, perhaps you could email a photo of them to me it may help to date the figures and show where they were made.
If any one has more information, opinions or ideas, why not email me and I will post the info on this page.
MG has emailed me a photo of the bases.
They appear to be made from an orange toned clay. I think they are German and date from about 1880. Sadly the value is still not high, but they are odd enough and old enough to be worth hanging onto!