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( Originally Published 1963 )
SLIPWARE, for example, is an old earthenware whose common name was derived from its decoration. It had been made generally in England as well as in this country wherever potteries were established throughout the 1700's and to about 1850. One of the most notable types is a coarse red earthenware made by the Pennsylvania Germans throughout that period. Slip was trickled over this red earthenware to make a decoration or pattern in low relief. Because tulips were a favorite motif, this is often called tulipware.
Neither tulipware nor much slipware of any kind is likely to be found now lying around unrecognized in cupboards. However, other kinds of porous and soft earthenware and the hard and nonporous stoneware may well be. Some few pieces were produced in this country, but most of them had been made in England or Europe. Although earthenware is not necessarily glazed, many kinds that are can be subdivided according to the kind of glaze and decoration.
Tin-glazed earthenware is called Delft, delft, majolica, or faience, according to the country in which it was made. Each country developed its own colorings and decoration, although a good deal of both Delft from Holland and delft from England was blue and white.
DELFT, one of the best-known and most familiar of the tin-glazed earthenwares, is the ware for which Holland became famous. The making of tin-glazed earthenware started in that country before 1600. By 1640 the town of Delft was a thriving center, and the industry soon spread to other towns and cities. Delftware is still being made, but experts say the finest was produced between 1640 and about 1750.
Blue decoration against a white background is considered typical of Holland's Delftware (on contemporary pieces, the white is not considered to be as milky, the blue as soft, as on the finest antique ware). But' Holland's Deltware was not always blue and white and the decorations were not always derived from the blue and white porcelain the Dutch East India Company brought from China. Nor were they based always on scenic Holland. Potters, however, were inclined toward blue. The second color they developed was purple. Other colors were used to some extent, including yellow, green, and brown during the eighteenth century. Pastels such as soft mauve, pink, orange, or salmon were attractive in floral designs.
In the nineteenth century, scenes based on the daily life of the Dutch became popular. Typical is a set of six plates, each 17 inches in diameter, made to hang on the wall. Each one shows a different village scene, and among them the four seasons are represented. The artist usually signed his name on the front of such plates and the potter's mark was on the back. Only display pieces such as these were signed by the artist.
Both ornamental and useful Delftware was produced in quantity. Plaques with scrolled edges were as common as outsize plates to hang on the wall. Tiles were made to face fireplaces and to serve as trivets. Large tiles, if they could be called that, were framed as pictures. Then there were vases, bottles, covered jars, figurines, slippers, and shoes. Plates to use on the table, serving plates, platters, and various bowls and dishes were indispensable. Tea caddies, spice boxes, caster sets, inkstands, and inkwells always are interesting. Of the many sizes and kinds of pitchers, one of the most appealing is shaped like a cow and known as a "cow creamer."
England also made a tin-glazed earthenware called delft, probably so named because the technique was introduced into England by Dutch and Flemish potters. A good deal of the English delft was also blue and white, but polychrome decoration was done more than in- Holland. Blues, reds, greens, and yellow predominated in the polychrome pieces. English delft inclined more toward floral and fruit decoration instead of copying so much from the Chinese.
Mugs, jugs and plates, candleholders, and tableware of all kinds were made in England too, as well as wall pockets shaped like cornucopias, crocus pots to hang on the wall (they had holes through which the bulbs sprouted), flasks, teapots, punch bowls, and a wealth of decorative things. Many jugs, mugs, plates, and other dishes still survive. English delft came from potteries established in Lambeth and elsewhere near London as well as in Bristol and Liverpool, good shipping points on the west coast. Liverpool was noted for its tiles, mugs, jugs, and wall pockets.
Delftware is unmistakable, but often it is impossible to know whether an old piece was made in Holland or England -that is, unless it was marked. The ware from Holland usually was. Delft is still being made in Holland. A small percentage of the output is faithful reproductions of eighteenth-century pieces originally made in Holland and England, which is sold chiefly through restorations in the United States.
Delftware from Holland was favored by the Dutch who settled in New York. Whether the English who followed them preferred Dutch or English wares is a question. The Quakers who came from England to Pennsylvania brought with them delft from Bristol or Liverpool, and probably imported some after they were settled in this country.
Tin-glazed earthenware had been made in Spain and Italy for some time before it was introduced into Holland. The Italians, who first saw tin-glazed ware in the fifteenth century, thought it came from the island of Majorca instead of Spain. As a result, their name for it was MAJOLICA. Soon Italy was producing its own quite distinct, tin-glazed majolica, in rich colors such as cobalt-blue, iron-red, copper, purple, orange, and various yellows and greens, and in many new forms and designs.
Americans are familiar, not with antique Italian majolica, but with majolica made in England and the United States in the 1800's. The distinguishing feature of this majolica is the naturalistic shapes that resemble leaves, flowers, vegetables, and fruits. Some pieces have applied decoration in naturalistic forms. Between 1880 and 1892, Griffin, Smith & Hill Co. in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, marked their pottery "Etruscan Majolica" or "G.S.H." Their products and those of another pottery in Maryland were used as premiums by grocery stores, and housewives evidently enjoyed collecting in this way. The premium market was a big one.
Highly coveted were large platters in leaf shapes colored more brilliantly than any autumn leaf. Serving dishes with covers were shaped and colored like cauliflower, cabbage, or corn, and looked almost real. An asparagus platter had stalks of asparagus in natural colors. Imagination even stretched to a bread platter displaying a folded white bread cloth bordered in lavender and fringed, with pierced brown handles. Although majolica is famous for its naturalistic forms and colors, many pieces were not shaped quite so realistically but were well covered with raised flowers and fruits.
Since Faenza in Italy was one of the busiest centers for producing majolica, it was almost inevitable that when the French learned how to make this tinglazed ware, they called it FAIENCE. With the assistance of some Italians, they began production during the sixteenth century. Frankly, some faience is fine enough to be mistaken for porcelain, and the French much preferred it to pewter for their tables. It was especially popular from the end of the seventeenth century to about 1850.
French faience differed greatly in both form and decoration from Italian majolica and Holland's Delftware. Yellow and green glazes, for example, were used sometimes on faience, and polychrome decoration was common. Chinese influence was strong at one time, classical motifs later. Attractive painted flowers and figures were also used.
Quimper, a seacoast town in the French department of Finistere, has produced a distinctive faience identified by the place name since 1690. Best known to Americans, however, is the Quimperware decorated with colorful provincial scenes imported chiefly from about 1900 to 1939. This is fairly plentiful and hard to mistake, although it is not yet antique. Plates, platters, bowls, and butter dishes were almost as popular as the sugar and creamer that might accompany a small teapot. A chamberstick and an inkwell were other useful pieces.
CREAMWARE, a lead-glazed earthenware that made Delft, majolica, and other tin-glazed wares less important, was perfected by Josiah Wedgwood, one of England's most creative pot: ters. Wedgwood's experiments made creamware harder and more durable. In 1765, with the approval of Queen Charlotte, it was renamed Queen's ware. All creamware is lighter in weight than any other kind of earthenware. The surface lends itself to painting and transfer-printing, and the glaze, almost transparent, gives it a creamy color and texture.