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Old Spode has patterns that flame with color. The use of a peculiar Chinese red with gold in some designs, as well as the deep blue employed in others, with the many colors of the floral motifs, render certain tea sets particularly suitable for consorting with our highly colored modern furnishings and tinted table linens.
Chamberlain Worcester, as well as old Royal Worcester, aristocrats of English china, are ancient makes much sought, in either the original or reproductions. In these the plates showing scenes of old English manor houses and country churches, surrounded by wide borders of deep color, are characteristic. Old Derby is prized for its quaint pictorial qualities and for its flower designs. Famous English castles were popular as subjects at the time these early plates were made as were scenes of foreign parts, plainly marked: "Scene in Holland" or "Italy."
More delicate in effect are examples of Rockingham ware which was made for only a short time-from 1820 to 1842. Coalport ware of dainty blue with scenes from an imaginary China, has an old-fashioned air. The making of pottery at the Shropshire town of Coalport goes back to the sixteenth century, but the tea sets and dinner services found today were made from the last quarter of the eighteenth century up to Victorian times.
Discrimination has to be exercised in the selection of ancient tea or breakfast sets for not every pattern, even in the good old days, was worthy. Also the general character of the design is not an infallible means of distinguishing one make from another. In the great period of English chinamaking every potter was trying out new ideas and sometimes did not hesitate to make up a design based on a rival's success. Similarity of design was occasioned also by the moving from one pottery to another of some talented workman or designer, who would, in his new place, use patterns that he had made successfully elsewhere. However, a few designs and kinds of ware have become recognized because of their excellence as typical of certain makes. Of these, blue Wedgwood, with its cameo decorations, and the bridged-stream, bird and flower designs of old Spode are outstanding examples.
Considering that some of the patterns have been made more or less continuously for 150 years, it often takes an expert familiar with marks, workmanship and patterns to tell just when a piece was produced.