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Wedgwood Queensware and Its Imitators
QUEENSWARE, OR CREAMWARE, is a creamy white pottery which was made in the last half of the I8th and the early I9th century. It was a utilitarian ware made in complete dinner sets and is available today in its various forms either pierced and gilt, transfer printed, or hand painted. You may collect the fine old pierced or perforated pieces, the popular transfer historicalevent Liverpool ware, or plates with hand-painted borders; a more modest collector may be interested in the jelly or blancmange molds. There are also many other variations in the decoration of creamware, including luster, which is made on a creamware base, and Mocha ware, but these are discussed elsewhere.
Queensware was so important to Wedgwood that in 1770 he published a catalogue illustrating his Queensware. This later went into several editions and was followed by a similar catalogue put out by Leeds Pottery in I783 and by one from the Castleford Pottery in 1796. These catalogues were also printed in French, German, and Spanish for the various export markets. They contained illustrations of dinnerware, including plates, cups and saucers, coffeepots, jugs, salts, sugar bowls, fish trowels, casters, covered vegetable dishes, candlesticks, candelabra, and fancy dessert dishes; pierced fruit bowls and baskets, chestnut bowls and elaborate centerpieces of pierced work with pineapple centers. There were also spittoons, jelly molds, and other articles including crucifixes and holy-water fonts. The illustrations in the catalogues are either plain or with pierced decoration. There are embossed borders on plates and the finials of covers are molded in flower, fruit, or urn shapes. Plates are shown with Royal, shell, feather, or Queen's edges. Although no printed designs are shown, these shapes could all be had gilded, enameled, or marked with crests, according to order.
Of course there were various differences in the designs in the catalogues of each factory, and the collector will want to study them carefully. However, all the factories followed Wedgwood leadership and tried to match their pottery with Wedgwood wares.
Wedgwood did not invent creamware or Queensware, but the changes which he made in the body and glaze about 1759 created a revolution in the potters' trade and made earthenware popular for daily table use. Several changes had already been made in the formula, and there was a gradual transition from salt glaze to a creamy glaze or creamware, but, before Wedgwood, creamware was still coarse, of uneven glaze, of a dirty yellow color, and clumsy in shape. The story goes that Wedgwood gave a caudle cup of this improved creamware to Queen Charlotte and she was so pleased with it that in 1762 she ordered Wedgwood to make a set of dinnerware in creamware, and because she objected to the raised barleycorn pattern, the plates were made plain with only raised bands, or compartments, on the edge and called Queen's Pattern. It was at this time that Wedgwood changed the name of his creamware to Queensware. Several other factories also used the name Queensware, and Queensware was the general name for all creamware imported into America after 1771.