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Old Derby Porcelain

The English factory which produced the china now known as Crown Derby was started in the town of that name in 1755 by William Duesbury, a young ceramic modeler and enameller. He had previously worked in London, then at Longton Hall in Staffordshire, and finally settled in the town which his porcelain factory was to make famous.

His chief products at first were figures, so popular at the time and easily sold. As he prospered he acquired other porcelain factories noted for their fine products. He bought the first one, Chelsea, in 1769 and operated it there for fifteen years, then transferred plant and workers to Derby.In 1776, the Bow works was bought and moved with a number of the workmen to Derby.

By this time he had a London warehouse and issued catalogues listing his porcelains, both ornamental and useful. The latter included table and dessert services. On the founder's death in 1786, his son, William, Jr., continued the business. These, unlike some of the other porcelain factories of the time, showed little foreign influence but were distinctly English, in fact, reflected the silversmithing styles of the period. Many of the pieces of this period were painted, and decorations were done in iron red, blue, purple, and gilt with borders of scrolling, foliage, and pendent urn motifs.

The pottery mark used during this Duesbury II period, 1786-1794, is a crown surrounded by "Duesbury Derby" in gold with crossed batons added. A third William Duesbury inherited the factory in 1796. He sold it in 1809 to his manager, Robert Bloor. On the latter's death, it passed to two other workmen who failed to make it profitable. Finally it was sold to a Staffordshire, firm and the works were closed in 1848.

Some of the Bloor craftsmen were later engaged by Sampson Hancock for work in a small factory at Derby where former styles were reproduced. In 1876 the Derby Crown Porcelain Company, Ltd., was formed and in 1890 became the Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company. Under this name it has continued to the present day and so qualifies as one of the longest-lived porcelain works in England.

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