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Pottery & Porcelain (P) - Encyclopedia Of Antiques

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PAINTING: Pottery and porcelain were painted in colors very early. In Europe, at first, it followed the styles of the Oriental artists but by 1740, Herold, an artist at Meissen, had created a distinctive European style in porcelain painting which was copied by other porcelain factories. Distinctive English styles were developed at Bow, Chelsea, Derby and Worcester. The Chelsea factory was pre-eminent in most respects, although during the Dr. Wall period at Worcester there is an especially English quality which endears it to the collector. Pottery painting was common during the same period at Staffordshire and other earthenware factories. All colors applied to pottery or porcelain are mineral, not vegetable.

PARIAN WARE: This is a hard-paste unglazed porcelain which resembles marble. It differs from "biscuit" only in being fused at a lower temperature. It is said to have been originated by Thomas Minton, but it was a leading product or' the Spode (Copeland) factory about 1840, and of Bennington in this country a little later. It is superior to the ordinary "biscuit" formerly used for busts and figures. As a rule, the proportions of these are graceful and the decorations delicate.

PASTE: The name given to the body of the ware. There are two kinds; soft paste, made of a mixture of various materials, and hard paste, made of natural clay. Earthenware and artifical porcelain are of soft paste; stoneware, ironstone china and modern porcelain are of hard paste. Since about 1800 the manufacture of porcelain has been altered by the mixture of bone ash and some other materials and true hard-paste porcelain is not now made. See BONE CHINA.

PATE SUR PATE: A method somewhat similar to the slip process, of applying the decoration in plastic form upon the unbaked body of the piece, one thickness being laid on another until the desired strength is ob' tamed, after which the pieces are fired. It was a form of decoration used at Sevres about 1850 and afterwards perfected by M. L. Solon.. It is to be seen in the modern work of the Minton factory in England whe-re Mr. Solon worked for over thirty years, and of the Rookwood factory in Cincinnati. This form of decoration had its origin in China.

PENNSYLVANIA SLIP WARE: This slip ware was the first decorated pottery to be made in this country. It was made on a dark-red, brownish clay by the early German settlers in Pennsylvania, who brought their methods and designs from the home country, from the first quarter of the 18th century through a period of more than a hundred years. The slip consisted of a white or light-colored clay and it was either applied to the surface of the ware and then fired, or the design was scratched through the slip (sgrafflato), exposing the brown clay body, before the piece was fired. Sometimes color was added by a brush. This ware was for household use and it was never made in large quantities. The Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia has a collection of about 150 pieces of this ware. Slip ware was made in other of the American colonies to some extent, but it obtained most prominence in Pennsylvania.

PERSIAN CERAMICS: Some of the earliest Persian pottery, with a body of red clay covered with a lead glaze, shows signs of lustre in the decoration. The time of highest excellence was in the 16th and 17th centuries. The decoration of Persian ware is generally floral and the coloring very artistic and striking.

PETUNTSE: China stone (q.v.). A partially decomposed granite containing some feldspar, used with kaolin for making porcelain.

PHOENIXVILLE (Pennsylvania) POTTERY: Organized in 1867. Between 1880 and 1890 Griffen, Smith and Hill operated the pottery and made a good grade of Etruscan Majolica. A great deal of care was taken in the molding and the colors used were perfectly blended. An English artist named Bourne was the designer. The quality and beauty of this ware make it desirable for collectors of ceramics. It consisted not only of tableware but vases and various fancy-shaped pieces were also produced. The factory was destroyed by fire in 1890.


PINXTON PORCELAIN: A small factory was started here in Derbyshire in 1796 by John Coke, which produced some fine pieces, similar to Derby porcelain and generally unmarked. Many of the workmen were from Derby. Some of the ware was even whiter and more translucent than Derby, due to William $illingsley, who was with Coke at the time and who had invented a soft-paste porcelain of great translucency. Some has the glassy body afterwards made at Nantgarw, where Billingsley was subsequently employed. The works were closed in 1812. Identified specimens of Pinxton porcelain are comparatively rare, as no mark was in general use.

PIPKIN: A small earthen pot or jug. See PART 5.


PLAQUE: A medallion or disc of porcelain used as a decorative feature on furniture. In the late 18th century placques of jasper ware, as made by Wedgwood, were inserted on cabinets, commodes, etc.


PLYMOUTH (England) PORCELAIN: Factory established before 1768 by William Cookworthy, a chemist, produced the first English porcelain to be made from native ingredients; also, this factory was the first to produce cobalt blue from the ore. The product was of hard paste with a milky white color, possessing all the qualities that good, hard-paste porcelain should have, and a fine glaze, although sometimes imperfect, due to imperfect firing. The decoration was in red and blue in the Chinese style and with birds and flowers.

The product consisted of tableware, excellent figures and groups, and some admirable vases. Much of the decoration was in under-glaze blue. The plant was sold to Richard Champion about 1770 and removed to Bristol. It is dif1~Icult to distinguish Plymouth China from that of Bristol (q.v.). Plymouth porcelain more nearly approaches true Oriental porcelain than that of any other English factory.

PORCELAIN: All porcelain, broadly speaking, is divided into two classes, namely: hardpaste porcelain and soft-paste porcelain. Hard paste is made from a mixture of kaolin and china stone (petuntse), it can not be scratched, it is cold to the touch and it has a bell-like ring when struck. It resists water and fire and all acids excepting hydrofluoric. The colors used in decoration seem to remain on the surface. In China the body and the glaze are fired at one operation as a rule. All Oriental china and all modern china is of hard paste.

It was first successfully produced in Europe at Meissen in Saxony in 1709 and later in England. Since about 1800, owing to the mixture of bone ash with the other ingredients, "true" hard-paste porcelain has not been made. Porcelain is fired at the highest heat of any pottery. The colors used in decorating are of two kinds, the under-glaze colors applied before glazing and firing, and the enamel colors and gold applied after glazing. These last require a second firing at a low heat to make them permanent.

Soft-paste porcelain is made by mixing white clay with "frit" (q.v.) or some other substance to give it translucency. It was first made in Florence in 1568 but its great development came in England and France in the 18th century. Soft paste can be scratched, it is warmer than hard paste to the hand, and the colors used in decoration sink in so that the effect is softer. The soft paste was the most perfect vehicle ever achieved for decorating, far more so than the hard paste. Soft-paste porcelain is very fragile, liable to crack at the touch of hot liquids, and to lose shape in firing, although these obstacles were overcome to some extent by the use of soapstone.

The productions of the English factories of the 18th century were of soft paste, excepting those of Bristol, New Hall and Plymouth. The most interesting were those made between 1744, when porcelain was first produced in England, and 1800. Early Sevres porcelain was of soft paste but its later productions are all of hard paste.

American Porcelain. Not until 1769 was there any serious attempt to manufacture china (porcelain) on this side of the Atlantic. This was in Philadelphia and the projectors of the enterprise were G. Bonnin, who probably learned his trade at Bow, and George A. Morris. The attempt proved to be a financial failure after running a few years, and Bonnin returned to England. No examples of the porcelain made there are known, although some pieces of white cream ware, similar to delft, have been identified as their work. Porcelain was made In New York early in the 19th century, probably by Dr. Mead. How long this factory was in operation is not known, but it is believed that a fine grade of ware was made there of American materials. A vase, fifteen inches in height, of soft paste and exceedingly white glaze but without gilding or coloring, from this factory is in the Pennsylvania Museum.

William Ellis Tucker of Philadelphia has the honor of being the first to supply the home market with a strictly American product. In partnership with a son of Judge Joseph Hemphill, he established the American China Manufactory about 1831. The following year Tucker died and judge Hemphill took over the business. Artists and artisans were brought from England, France 'and Germany. Sevres forms were successfully copied and some of their ware has been sold in recent years for French work. The factory was discontinued in 1838. Since that time several porcelain factories have been established in various parts of the country, notably at Trenton, New Jersey, with the object of producing here more or less successfully ware fully equal in every respect to any that can be made abroad.

Austrian Porcelain. See VIENNA (Austria)

PORCELAIN: Chinese Porcelain. It is not known when porcelain was first made in China, but it has been identified in some of the productions of the Sung dynasty 9601229. Plain white porcelain known as blanc-de-Chine and blue and white were produced from the earliest period down to modern times. The blanc-de-Chine ware of the Ming dynasty was held an great esteem and all of the factories in Europe tried to copy it. There was never any soft-paste porcelain made in China. The so-called later wares followed from the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644. They were made principally at the imperial factory at Ching-t^-Chen and include the K'ang Hsi (1662-1722) blue and white ware, the Yung Cheng (1723-1735) and the Ch'ien Lung (1736-1795) porcelains of a high standard of merit in technical perfection, in grace and variety of forms produced and beauty of decoration.

CHINESE PORCELAIN FORMS: The height of excellence may be said to have been attained in the K`ang Hsi period. To this period belong those beautiful self-colored pieces produced From metallic oxides in a variety of tints, of which sanb de-boeuf is an example. The introduction of flambe, or splashed colors, was also of this period. Decorations on Chinese porcelain are largely symbolic. The colors include Famille Verte (green), Famille Jaime (yellow) Famille Rose, Famille Noire (black) and powdered blue, all in great demand by collectors.

A good deal of white porcelain was imported into Europe and there decorated, in England, France, Italy, Holland and Germany. Some of the so-called Lowestoft is of this kind. The first Chinese porcelain brought to this country was from Canton to New York in 1784, and followed soon after by that brought by Elias Hasket Derby in the ship "Grand Turk" to Salem, Mass.

Danish Porcelain. See COPENHAGEN.

Dutch Porcelain. See AMSTEL, and HAGUE.

English Porcelain. From the collector's point of view, the history of English porcelain begins with the foundation of the Bow factory in 1744 and ends with the Rockingham factory which began to make porcelain in 1820. The obscurity which surrounds their early history may be accounted for by the fact that these factories were all private ventures, started for commercial purposes. In France and Germany much of the production was under royal patronage.

French Porcelain. The history of porcelain-making in France begins about 1673 when a factory was started at Rouen (q.v.). A few specimens of this early product still survive. This factory was followed with one at St. Cloud (q.v.), Chantilly (q.v.), Sevres (q.v.), Vincennes (q.v.) and others, and France has taken a leading part in the production of porcelain of high quality and artistic merit since that time. The production of Haviland at Limoges is one of the best of modern porcelains.

German Porcelain. To Germany must be given the credit for discovering and introducing into Europe the art of making true hard-paste porcelain of the Chinese type. The invention of BŪttger in 1709 paved the way for the establishment of the famous Meissen factory near Dresden (q.v.). Excellent work was done in their best periods by several other German factories; Berlin (q.v.),

Frankenthal (q.v.), FUrstenberg were among the most prominent. The German factories in particular excelled in the development of sculpture in porcelain, inaugurated at Meissen. This was extensively copied in the earliest English china-works. Nearly all German porcelain of the 18th century was made under the ownership and control of the rulers of the various countries and they, of course, had first choice of the products.

Italian Porcelain. Although there is evidence that experiments in making porcelain were made at Venice as early as the first quarter of the 16th century, there are no known examples remaining. Towards the end of the century porcelain was successfully made at Florence (q.v.), specimens of which still survive. Porcelain is not heard of again in Italy until the 18th century, at which time factories were established at Doccia (q.v.), Capo'di'Monte (q.v.), and Venice (q.v.), also at Nove, Vinovo, Este and Treviso.

Japanese Porcelain. The early porcelain of Japan, which dates from early in the 16th century, is of a very hard paste, the ground has a bluish tint and the decoration is very striking and effective in coloring and design. Figure subjects are not common, but one finds representations of the crane, emblem of prosperity, of the tortoise, emblem of longevity, the phoenix, the lion and other animals, as well as birds and fishes of different kinds. Landscapes rarely occur although floral subjects are common. Porcelain in Japan developed under Chinese influence. The decoration of Japanese china brought to Europe by the Dutch in the 17th century influenced the earliest decorations on lYleissen, Chelsea, Bow, Derby, Worcester, St. Cloud, Chantilly and other European China. See Imari Ware.

Russian Porcelain. The early porcelain of the Imperial factory established at St. Petersburg in 1758 was of a hard paste with a bluish tint and distinctly Russian. During the reign of Catherine II the influence of Meissen and Sevres is noticed. From about the time of the reign of Czar Alexander I until the Revolution, the entire output of the factory was taken by the court for its own use and for diplomatic gifts. The Imperial factory served as a model for a number of privately owned potteries, of which in 1$00 there were about twenty in operation. By 1861, the number had increased to about seventy. The porcelain of the Imperial factory and to a certain extent that of the private potteries reflect the culture of Western Europe rather than the native Russian taste. The figurines of Russian racial types, however, constitute a striking and original contribution to ceramic art. Russian porcelain has been well received by collectors in this country, and it makes an interesting addition to the antique china here obtainable.

PORTLAND VASE: For an account of this famous glass vase see PART 3. In 1787 Wedgwood made copies of this vase in pottery, and as an example of modern ceramic art they could not be excelled.

PORTO BELLO WARE: The name given to a white, salt-glazed ware probably made by Astbury in honor of the capture of Porto Bello from Spain by Captain William Vernon in 1739.


POTTER'S WHEEL: This wheel, which was used from ancient times until well into the 19th century, consisted of a perpendicular beam about two feet in height, on top of which was a circular disc about a foot in diameter. At the bottom of the beam was a horizontal wooden wheel, four feet across, with four inclined spokes which extended from the beam to the rim of the wheel; which the workman pushed around with his feet, rotating the disc. This contrivance was called a "kickwheel." A great advance was made later by the introduction of the "throwing-wheel" (q.v.). At the present time a kick-wheel operated by a treadle with the left foot is still used in some of the smaller potteries.

POTTERY: Pottery is the oldest of the arts and in all ages reflects the condition of every branch of art. The term may be applied to all kinds of earthenware but the usual modern distinction is to apply it to ware that is opaque when it comes from the kiln or oven. There are three stages incident to the production of all pottery. The clay state, before the ware has been fired at all; the biscuit state, when the ware has been passed through the oven and fired once; and the glazed state, after the ware has been covered with the glaze and fired a second time. All under-glaze colors or printing are applied to the biscuit before the second firing. If enamel or other decoration is applied over the glaze, the ware is subjected to another firing at a comparatively low heat in the enamel kiln.

American Pottery. One writer on the subject says that "the history of pottery in this country is pathetic, for while it has had some triumphs, it has worked against an almost inert public opinion. Its votaries have had little but poverty to compensate them. " This was probably true, at least, until after the middle of the 19th century, when American enterprise succeeded in overcoming the obstacles to success. The earliest pottery in this country producing white ware, of which there is definite record, was that of Dr. Daniel Coxe, erected at Burlington, New Jersey, previous to the year 1685. Its exact location as a pottery is not known. A stoneware factory was started in New York in 1735 and continued there until 1820, at which time it was removed to South Amboy, New Jersey.

During the latter half of the 18th century many small potteries were started in the German settlements in Eastern Pennsylvania, where slip ware and sgraffiato had been produced before the middle of the century, and several potteries were also started in New England and elsewhere. The ware was crude and largely anonymous, but plain and simple though it was, it brings us closer than almost anything else to the early American pioneer. The bulk of this product was ware for domestic use, adding to the tableware imported from England and France. During the first half of the 19th century many potteries such as Bennington and those in the Ohio River Valley were established, which will be found described under their respective headings. Several of the more important potteries of the last half of the 19th century are also given space. See NEW ENGLAND POTTERY.

Chinese Pottery. The discovery of the secrets of the manufacture of pottery in China is doubtless of great antiquity. Very probably, the Chinese acquired the processes gradually, resulting in a certain degree of excellence while the world elsewhere was yet young. Chinese pottery differs from any other in the density of the paste, and translucency, with few exceptions, is absent. A kind of decoration peculiar to the Chinese is the crackle (q.v.). Chinese ceramics are bound up with the history, the literature, the mythology of this ancient people, and the whole range is so extensive as to require a lot of study to understand its significance. See CELADON WARE.

English Pottery. The products of early English earthenware potteries have an interest for collectors little less in importance than that connected with early English porcelain. The art of the old English potters is of special interest to students of ceramic art, as many processes were invented by them and English earthenware has won for itself a healthy recognition everywhere, from a technical point of view. Examples in existence of the work of the medieval potter, and of the early Staffordshire potters particularly, show a constant striving to improve their wares. The earliest date which appears on any piece of pottery of undoubted English make is 1571.

The factories were so many and the potters who achieved fame and reputation so numerous, that it is a practical impossibility to attempt to enumerate them here. It will suffice to say that the standards set by Wedgwood were never surpassed by potters anywhere, and that no other pottery district in the world became so conspicuous for quality and quantity of production as Staffordshire (q.v. ). The practical potters of England succeeded in creating by gradual improvements a ware so superior that all Europe was influenced and benefited by their work. The work of the potters of the 19th century is not less important. Doulton (q.v. ) and Minton (q.v.) products are wonderful wares, resembling no others, and many other potteries produced fine wares which won their way by sheer merit into all of the world's markets. See EARTHENWARE.

French Pottery. It is known that tinenameled and slip-decorated pottery was made at Nevers, Rouen, and at various other places in France but very few pieces have been preserved, among which may be found a few of sgrafflato work. The earliest tin-enameled pottery was made by Italian potters in imitation of majolica, but gradually a national style was produced by French potters who succeeded them. Painting by these potters is more carefully executed and includes a wider range of colors. They never used a lead glaze over the enamel. See ROUEN.

German Pottery. Tin-enameled pottery (q.v.) was produced extensively in various parts of Germany toward the end of the 17th century and through the 18th. Its principal features are a soft body and preponderance of purple and blue in the decorations. Tureens, wine jugs, beer mugs, plates and dishes were among the product. Sgraffiato ware (q.v.) was also produced in Germany more than two hundred years ago. Slipdecorated pottery was even earlier. The tulip was the favorite subject of decoration. See PENNSYLVANIA SLIP WARE.

Japanese Pottery. It is uncertain when Pottery was first made in Japan, but it is probable that potters from Korea were at work in Japan early in the Christian era, and while to China is awarded the first place in porcelain, Japan took and held the lead in pottery. The Japanese were and are potters without rivals. Suitable clays for pottery were found in many parts of Japan. The tea ceremony and the burning of incense required a great variety of pieces. Amongst all the pottery Satsuma (q.v.), buff in colo' with a finely crackled glaze and decorated in gold and colors, takes first place. Genuine pieces of old Satsuma are rare, but imitations are plentiful.


PRATT WARE: Made by Staffordshire potters of that name, of which there have been six generations. Felix Pratt, probably the third of that name, worked from about 1780 to 1820 and his product takes a high place in modeling, color and glaze. He made vases and jugs, and white stoneware with blue figures in relief. See FENTON WARE.


PUG MILL: A bawl-shaped vessel with a shaft having protruding knives used for grind-ing clay. A horse hitched to a beam walked around and around, revolving the knives. Water was mixed with the clay to give it the right consistency.

PUZZLE JUG: Perforated with holes or fretted patterns which made it impossible to take a draught of liquor without spilling it unless the drinker understood the trick. One or more of the holes would have to be covered with the fingertip.