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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Gilt Wedding-Band China

Although rarely mentioned or illustrated in reference books on old china, I consider the design popularly known as "wedding band" one of the most interesting of those produced during the early years of the Victorian period. Yet the price range for individual dishes or entire services is considerably more moderate than that for other porcelains of the same age.

My own collection started with an assortment of plates which came to me from the home of a Vermont great-uncle. I was impressed by the brilliant whiteness of the glaze, the effective modeling of their fluted rims and the uniform quality of the overglaze gold banding. Also, the bottoms of the plates have the ringed bases raised as much as three-sixteenths of an inch, a characteristic of the more carefully made and earlier examples of mid-nineteenth-century china. With these inherited dishes as a beginning, I started to assemble a dinner service. Buying pieces here and there over a period of six or eight years, I gathered some pertinent facts about this kind of china from dealers and by studying examples which I saw and handled. Why it is called "wedding band" is not known, but the likeness between the banding and the wide wedding rings of the Victorian period makes the name apt and explains why it is now the accepted one.

Many of us born in the last decade of the nineteenth century can probably remember our grandparents' dining table set with a white porcelain chastely decorated with a wide gold band. Not new even then, since it had probably been among their wedding gifts, it was cherished and used for special occasions. We now regard it with nostalgic eyes as part of a leisurely, comfortable way of life, long since gone. But for those who arrived in the world several decades after the end of the Victorian era, these same dishes have an appealing quaintness. Hence, there is a growing demand for this design.

Wedding-band china was made by the porcelain factories of England and France from about 1830 to 1870 when it was superseded by the more colorful services with floral decorations. During its heyday, it was much in vogue as the best china of many American homes. That of English provenance is bone china and practically never bears a pottery mark, though much of it has underglaze production marks such as Arabic or Roman numerals or small devices, triangles and the like, to identify the work of individual workmen.

French wedding-band porcelain is quite often marked. It may have the initials C.F.H. in small size, hand-done with a fine brush in green or red, considered an early mark of Charles Haviland, who acquired a factory at Limoges in 1840. Another fairly common mark, usually in black, is the outline of a tall baluster-shaped vase with the initials B. D. above an L. I believe it to be the mark of another of the Limoges factories but have not yet been able to identify it. Other French marks include "Ed. Honore a Paris," "Mft. de Lefebvre, Rue Amlot" and "K. et G. Lundville."

There is also the tradition that the Tucker pottery of Philadelphia produced china of this design, unmarked, but so closely resembling that of European provenance that there is no way of identifying the pieces. If any wedding-band china was made at this American factory, it would date from 1832 to 1838 when the venture was at the height of its commercial success.

As to age, wedding-band china with the fluted rim is earliest. The unfluted dishes date from about 1850, as do the octagon-shaped covered dishes, platters, teapots, and the like.

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