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Detecting "Longton Hall"
( Originally Published 1913 )
Littler began to make porcelain about the year 1745. Bow and Chelsea were at work then, Derby a little later, and Worcester in 1751. How shall we know " Longton Hall " from the others ? Mr. Bemrose's Hints, in " Longton Hall Porcelain," Bemrose & Sons.-" A piece of white and blue ` Longton Hall' porcelain, when placed in a glass-case amongst examples from various factories, appears still more brilliant in its lapis-lazuli effect. There is a charm in its simple shape and lack of finish in other respects.
" The cobalt-blue has been laid unevenly on the biscuit body, with a tendency to run when acted on by the glaze and the heat of the oven. The streaky effect of this, and its innumerable degrees of light and shade, give it colour value.
" In some instances, especially on the large plates and dishes with overlapping leaves, Littler was too lavish in the use of the ` Longton blue.' At the same time, it must be remembered that their former gold decoration is missing.
" The earlier pieces have been profusely gilded ; to-day there are only indications of gold on some of the pieces. The gold decoration was applied by means of a varnish not burnt in ; consequently, to-day, the gold is worn off. But in a short time Littler learnt how to apply the gold by a method which would last.
" In dark blue a larger salmon-scale was painted than was in general use at Worcester. " There are examples which would do credit to Chelsea in paste, glaze, and enamelling." It is a mistake to think that Littler's productions " never really reached the conditions of a perfected manufacture.
" Littler made quantities of porcelain of the Chelsea type in a translucent white body. " The later output from this factory must be looked for, not amongst the heavy, indifferently potted and enamelled specimens of the earlier periods, but amongst examples more akin to Chelsea.
" This factory but sparingly used any marks. The one which most frequently appears is two capital letters L reversed and crossed, and sometimes under the letters one or more dots placed vertically. This mark occurs in gold, blue, and red. Another mark is a script L in black. " The handles are different to the work of all other factories of the period, and of intricate rustic design, a common one being the stalk of the rose ending in several buds gracefully resting on the edge of the piece."
Another characteristic was the liability to fire-crack. " Some examples, when held up to a strong light, show a greenish tinge in the body, similar to some Worcester ; in other cases a dirty yellow tinge.
" It is often very heavy, partly because of the heavy rococo bases ; the centre of the base is often clumsily fitted." This fact will often decide the origin of a (doubtful) piece. The bottom is seldom glazed.
" In some specimens there are moons " (as in " Chelsea " porcelain).
" The glaze is often of a bluish tinge, giving a bluegrey look to the porcelain when placed among different china."
In figures " there is a carelessness in the finish of the bases, these being sometimes almost solid. A round hole at the back is sometimes found.
" On the cheeks, arms, etc., a peculiar deep red is freely used, quite unlike that used in other factories." Professor Church's Hints," A very rich blue, streaked or flooded or run, is the prevalent and characteristic colour. A delicate scroll-work in opaque white enamel occurs on some pieces, in places where gold would have been expected.
" Characteristics of this fabric, the rich streaky blue, the flowers, and stalks in the round, the translucent paste, and the minute signs of a not quite perfect manufacture." Chaffers' Hints (the earlier ware).-" The paste has some affinity with that of Bow and Chelsea, but the pieces are clumsily potted and very inferior in general appearance. There is a rough and premature potting, as of a factory in the earlier and progressive stages. Figures on scroll bases, with a pinkish-red colour in lines on the edge of the scrolls, and encrusted flowers, rather larger than those of Chelsea. Sometimes this red colour is used on the scroll handles."
Mr. Hobson's Hints. " It is often of uneven, almost undulating, surface, with a peculiar lumpiness under the base, especially noticeable in the figures. Gilding insecurely fixed, and occasionally replaced by arabesques in white tin-enamel."
Mr. Blacker's Hints.-" The flowers are not in groups or wreaths above the neck or foot, but simply stuck singly upon the rim. Other vases of a much higher type, with most elaborate raised flower and raised band decoration, are ascribed to this factory. The commonest forms of it recognised are plates and dishes decorated on the edges with embossed vineleaves, often coloured with streaky blue."
It will be seen that only Mr. Bemrose went deeply into the matter.
L.'envoi. I have now copied down enough hints to send the collector off to his cabinets, to detect any " Longton Hall " which may be there masquerading as Chelsea or Worcester or Bow.