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Mocha Ware

MOCHA WARE is one of those things that has been regarded with scorn and labeled kitchen ware, but it has come into the collector's field during the last five years. Although at one time Mocha ware was a common household pottery it is now supposed to be sophisticated to collect it. There is not a great deal of Mocha ware on the market today, because Mocha is a soft pottery and much has been broken, and of that left, many pieces are damaged and browned with usage, and these pieces are not desirable to discriminating collectors. The collections which I have studied were acquired within the last few years, but just enough ahead of the popular interest in Mocha ware so that their acquisition did not involve a great deal of money. Prices have tripled now and good pieces are much more difficult to find. Mocha ware looks like, and in fact it is related to, your old yellow mixing bowls.

Actually it is a creamware decorated with seaweed or tree silhouettes and other dipped brush patterns and bands of black, white, or other colors on backgrounds of tan, terra cotta, and blue. Mocha ware is sometimes called "banded creamware" or "Leeds ware" by modern collectors. In the old potteries it was always referred to as Mocha or dipped ware.

Mocha ware was first made by William Adams of Tunstall, England (1787-1805), and continued to be made by his descendant William Adams until 1831, and according to Edwin Atlee Barber was still being made by Adams in 1903. In the book William Adams, an Old English Potter by William Turner, a Mocha-ware mug is illustrated as belonging to the period 1787-1805 and described as follows: "Cream Ware-Mocha Mug, decorated in characteristic style with impressed diaper pattern around the rim -Height 6 in." The interesting feature of the mug is that both the tree silhouette design and the wave and loop pattern are found on the same article and thus we have a key to two patterns made at the same pottery, but we cannot be sure that all tree patterns and all wave and loop patterns were made by Adams. Adams did not mark this ware.

Lakin and Poole ( 1792-1796) made "mocha tumblers," and Leeds Pottery and many others who worked potteries about this time also undoubtedly made Mocha ware. However, it did not appear in America until later.

I have become addicted to looking up my favorite antiques in the old newspapers of the time, and much can be gleaned in this way about the pottery and chinaware imported into America from these early records. Especially is this true about Mocha ware. However, it often took several weeks of newspaper reading to discover even one advertisement relating to Mocha ware. The day I found an advertisement with not only a list of Mocha-ware articles but a maker's name as well I was as excited as a new father passing out cigars. The earliest mention of Mocha ware that I have found in American newspapers is in the Boston Daily Advertiser in 1815: "53 doz. Moco Bowls, 24 doz. check do, 23 doz. Painted do-B & G edged dishes. 21 Moco Mugs, 18 doz. Pitchers various patterns; gold neck Landscape, Hunting, Fluted gold Lions-Blue printed Turkish & Roman patterns."

In the same newspaper on January 19, 1816, Blake and Cunningham have the following notice: "C.C. Dishes, plates flat & soup Bowls, Moco Mugs, Salad bowls, chambers. Also an assortment of fine Blue printed ware. Hunting Jugs."

Mocha ware was still popular a few years later, for in the New York Commercial Advertiser for March 18, 1828, the following advertisement contains a reference to Mocha ware: "Earthenware-75 crates containing edged plates, dishes, tureens, painted chocolate mugs, handled cups and saucers, Moco Bowls, Mugs, Pitchers, Chambers etc." This Mocha ware was later sold for "measure ware" and used in inns, taverns, and hotels.

In the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is an agate bowl with a checkered molded border. It is labeled "Wedgwood." This design is similar to the marbled and mottled designs on Mocha ware and the border is impressed as those on Mocha ware, so it seems safe to call this piece Mocha and establish the fact that Mocha ware was made by Wedgwood. Undoubtedly the inspiration for many of the patterns, such as the marbled, came from Whieldon or Wedgwood, but I do not believe that any was actually made by Whieldon. The geometric patterns are also similar to the engine-lathe work used by Wedgwood on Egyptian Black ware. We know that jugs and mugs of creamware were turned on the lathe at Leeds and several of the molds for ornamenting Leeds Black Egyptian ware are identical with the molded designs on the borders and spouts of pitchers of Mocha ware. There are, however, no pieces with the Leeds mark. The mugs and jugs of checkered or other geometric patterns were turned on the lathe, the perfection of the design being too regular for handwork.

Various patterns of mocha or dipped ware were made at the Cambrian Pottery in Swansea between 1831 and 1850, and also at the South Wales Pottery at Llanelly.

Fragments of pieces dug up at the Cambrian Pottery include marbled designs with colored slips, mugs and jugs with lines and bands of color and impressed bands, a pattern with crude stars and wavy lines, and the sea weed pattern. The pieces are seldom marked, but jugs and mugs have been found with a raised crest with a crown and plumes and the word "Imperial" impressed. These were made in about 1834, according to E. Morton Nance in The Pottery and Porcelain of Swansea and Nantgarw.

Mocha, tortoise shell, and dipped ware was also made in various Scot tish potteries. Common drinking cups, bowls, and mugs were made as early as 1823. The grounds were usually brown, green, or yellow decorated with ornamental rings.

Enoch Wood (1759-1840) made Mocha ware in about 1790. A barrelshaped mug decorated with translucent green at the top and base and a diaper pattern stamped and colored brown and lines of gray is illustrated in Arthur Hayden's Chats on Old English Earthenware. Types of decoration on Mocha ware include:
1. Tree pattern
2. Seaweed or dandelion pattern
3. Cat's-eye
4. Agate or marbled
5. Checkered or other engine-turned geometric designs
6. Slip decoration of rings, dots, and wavy lines
7. Twigs
8. Plain banded
9. Rope or wave and loop
10.Cream color with engine-turned bands.

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