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"AMSTEL" CHINA - 1764-1810

WEESP - 1764-1771
OUDE AMSTEL - 1784-1799 NIEUWE AMSTEL - 1799-1810

HISTORY. There are only two establishments to be taken account of in considering the china made in Holland. One of them began at Weesp and had a continuous exis tence under three other names and in three other places. The second was at The Hague.

Dutch china has always been overshadowed by the importance and sufficiency of Dutch Delft and, consequently, the wares produced during the eighteenth century never had the necessary stimulus to develope any distinctively national characteristics. Nevertheless, a considerable amount of very good china was made and much of it possesses a certain homely charm of "pleasant bourgeois character."

In 1764 Count Gronsfeldt-Diepenbrock acquired the plant of a bankrupt faience factory at Amsterdam, removed it to Weesp, a little town nearby, and established an hard paste porcelain works with workmen from Dresden, closely following Dresden tradition and practices.

The porcelain produced was of such excellent character that Count Gronsfeldt-Diepenbrock had no hesitation in proposing to Sevres a scheme of amalgamation, since Sevres was anxious to make hard paste porcelain and had not yet reached success in the experiments carried on there. The proposal was considered but not concluded as the management of Sevres saw the many possibilities of international complications.

Then followed embarrassing difficulties for the factory at Weesp. Holland was flooded with Japanese porcelain at the time, thus affecting the market for native wares, and the German workmen were leaving and going home again. In the meantime, however, a Calvinist minister, by name de Mol, had become much interested in the factory at Weesp, regarded it as an opportunity and bought the works in 1771.

He thereupon transferred the establishment to Oude Loosdrecht and continued the manufacture of porcelain, devoting most effort to the production of "useful" ware. Under de Mol's direction the enterprise seems to have prospered and there was a very considerable output of china. After de Mol's death, in 1782, the business was carried on at Oude Loosdrecht by a limited company until 1784.

In 1784 the company removed the works to Oude Amstel and there continued to make the same quality of chinaware until 1799 when the ownership passed to another company.

The new company again moved the works, this time to Nieuwe Amstel, and at that place went on making porcelain until 1820 when the establishment was finally discontinued.

THE BODY. From the very outset, thanks to the experienced Dresden workmen who knew and followed the tried Dresden processes, the hard paste body was tech nically beyond all cavil, pure white and of the best quality, closely resembling the body of Dresden china.

THE GLAZE. The glaze was of the same, even, transparent brilliant quality as the Dresden glaze.

ARTICLES MADE AND CONTOUR. The china made consisted chiefly of tableware, breakfast sets, "useful" objects of various sorts, small boxes, pots and vases. Later a few more ambitious vases with intricate perforations were made and towards the end of the Oude Loosdrecht phase some busts in biscuit were produced.

The contours, for the most part, were borrowed from German and French sources. The shapes were partly Rococo in style but changed to Neo-Classic forms con currently with the march of fashion. The leaning to French precedents and models became more pronounced towards the latter part of the Oude Loosdrecht period.

TYPES OF DECORATION. The types of decoration were as heterogeneous as the contours. All manner of motifs were used. Some of the china was wholly white with festoons, sprays, or other ornamental motifs in slight relief; the piercings of fruit baskets were often picked out with blue; there were moulded motifs with a sparing use of colour; cartouches contained small landscapes, birds, and polychrome flowers; sometimes there were Watteau-like subjects and scenes from Italian comedy; modelled fruits, leaves and birds, duly coloured, served as knobs or handles; landscapes and cupids were rendered en camaaeu; the cornflowers of Sevres were frequent; and polychrome landscapes, birds and flowers were especially in favour.

THE MARKS. The Weesp mark consisted of the crossed swords of Dresden with two flanking dots. The Oude Loosdrecht mark was M:O:L:, rendered in a variety of forms. The Oude Amstel mark was the name "Oude 14 Amstel" or the letter A. The wares of all the four stages of this factory were so much alike that it is difficult to distinguish them.

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