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( Originally Published 1963 )
LOWESTOFT is another ware that came directly from China-not from the town in England of that name. It was neither made nor decorated at Lowestoft, in spite of books that have claimed either one or the other for it. As a matter of fact, Lowestoft was a porcelain-making town, but the socalled Lowestoft dishes made in China are quite different from any made in Lowestoft, England. The Chinese ware is a hard-paste porcelain with a white to gray background color. Unlike Cantonware, Lowestoft was painted to order in China for English and American customers. The decoration was Occidental rather than Oriental, and included armorial designs as well as such typically Western motifs as a horn of plenty. The coloring of the decoration often contained some blue but was not confined to it; pink, yellow, and a bright green were fully as common.
FLOWING BLUE, also known as Flow Blue, Flowering Blue, and Old Blue, is not a product of China any more than Willowware is. English and later some American potters, inspired by Chinese ware, also made a good deal of earthenware and porcelain that was decorated in blue against a white background. Whatever you call this china, the name is derived honestly. Flowering Blue is a logical name for it because of the repeated use of flowers in the designs. Equally fitting is Flowing Blue because of the tendency of the good strong blue to flow beyond the outlines of the decorative design and tint the cream or white base. Yet the design stood out distinctly enough and the flowing tendency of the blue enriched the base color.
Although flowering and foliage patterns always were popular for Flowing Blue china, the trend of the designs changed from time to time. Between 1800 and the 1820's, shells were important; they were often combined with flowers. Much later, concentric circles, medallions, and scrolls were used effectively.
Flowing Blue is earthenware, and almost all of it was made in the county of Staffordshire in England. Staffordshire has been a center of potterymaking since the days of the Romans. Many of England's most famous potteries-Wedgwood, Spode, Davenport, Enoch Wood & Sons, James Edwards, J. & W. Ridgway, Thomas Mayer, William Adams & Sons, and many others-had their factories in this district. Earthenware, ironstone, salt glaze, jasper, bone china, porcelain, and all kinds of ceramics have been produced in Staffordshire, and some of the most famous processes, such as those for making jasper, basalt, and bone china, were originated there.
STAFFORDSHIRE has come to be a generic term and a synonym for transfer-printed decoration. This method, which was worked out about 1755, has been used chiefly to decorate earthenware. It involves far less handwork than any other method of decorating china because the design is engraved on a copper plate and thereafter can be reproduced over and over. Portions of the transfer-printed pattern sometimes were colored by hand, but this is by no means true of most of the ware. Before the discovery of transfer-printing, however, each piece was decorated wholly by hand.
Blue and red were the first colors used for transfer-printing, and blue continued to be a favorite throughout the 1800's. The deep, dark, strong blues belong to the late 1700's and up to about 1850; thereafter, the blues became lighter and sometimes almost faded. After 1830, other colors and sometimes a combination of colors were plentiful. Pink and rose, mulberry, lavender, green, light blue, sepia or brown, and also black were used by all potteries. Black transfer-printing was a specialty of Liverpool potters from 1790 to about 1815. Green and pink is one of the popular combinations sought by collectors. A good mulberry is probably the rarest of Staffordshire ware nowadays, and green, lavender, and brown are much scarcer than blue, rose, and pink.
Scenes and landscapes were the basis of Staffordshire decoration. Castles, villas, and pastoral views often were quite romanticized. They formed the center pattern, and plates and other pieces were given a flower and foliage border. The name of the pattern was stamped on the underside even when no potter's mark was. A brown Staffordshire pattern called Alhambra featured very English-looking castles. Little imagination is needed to accept the building in Abbey Ruins by T. Mayer as just that; this pattern in light blue had two cows grazing among the flowers and foliage in the foreground. Arabesque was a dark blue pattern with Chinese-type buildings, a bridge leading from one of them to the river below, and tall trees overhanging and framing the design. Lausanne Villa, transfer-printed in lavender, owed much more to China than to Switzerland or England for its house and church, the boat and the figures in the latter. All of these patterns, typically, had predominantly floral borders except Arabesque, which featured small shells as much as blossoms.
The Flowing Blue earthenware made in Staffordshire was transfer-printed too, but it is so distinctive that it is classified with a group name of its own. Much of what is now called commemorative ware also was transferprinted in blue, and it is amazing how many towns and cities in the United States served as themes for commemorative Staffordshire earthenware. The visit of Lafayette in 1824 was recorded from his landing through practically every stop of his triumphal tour.
Other colors besides blue were used on transfer-printed ware for the American market. Views, both current and historical in the United States, portraits of patriots and heroes, and patriotic emblems were made in quantity. In the late 1800's, the souvenir plates that became popular purchases at summer resorts and important cities were also made in Staffordshire, quite often in transfer-printed blue.
GAUDY DUTCH and SPATTERWARE also were made in Staffordshire in the early 1800's, chiefly for export to the United States, where both were popular among the Pennsylvania Germans. Gaudy Dutch, as its name implies, was highly decorated in red, yellow, and blue. Patterns consisted of butterflies, carnations, dahlias, roses, grapes, and doves. Look in the cupboards for Gaudy Dutch if any of your family ever lived in or around Philadelphia, Lancaster, and York, Pennsylvania.
GAUDY IRONSTONE is heavier and thicker but almost as brightly decorated. It was not made far as long a time as Gaudy Dutch. Gaudy Welsh, with blue-purple decoration, is considered more crude.
Although spatterware was a favorite of the Pennsylvania Germans, it was sold as far west as Ohio and actually was not limited to one area, as was the Gaudy Dutch. Spatterware is easy to recognize and most attractive. Another name for it is spongeware, stemming from the fact that the border was colored by daubing color on the white clay body with a sponge. (Whieldon had used a sponge for his tortoiseshell ware in the previous century.) A deep bowl or a plate may have a colored border, often blue, that was applied with the sponge, but this border will be broken regularly to display a flower in natural colors against a white background. A ewer or teapot sometimes was spattered or sponged all over with color, but somewhere it also would display a design against the white background. Roses, tulips, and other flowers, peacocks, and eagles were popular motifs.
The creamware originated by Wedgwood continued to be made in Staffordshire throughout the nineteenth century. Today, some people are inclined to push aside a creamware plate or platter as "that old kitchen one." It is old, but too valuable to push aside. Many of these leftover pieces of nineteenth-century creamware are decorated simply with a colored edging along the border. In their day they were referred to as the "blue-edged" or "green-edged china."
MOCHA CREAMWARE more correctly should be called BANDED CREAMWARE. It is neither mochanor coffee-colored, although shades of cocoa and brown were used in the decoration. So were yellows, pale blue, and green. However, one of the several patterns made in England was called Mocha; it resembled seaweed and was a light brown in color. There were also a Plain Banded pattern with bands in alternating colors, Cat's Eye, which had a round motif half dark and half light, and several marbleized patterns.
Mochaware, as all such patterns now are called in this country, was made in England before 1800 and throughout that century. Some small amount probably was made in this country too. Dinner sets were not made, but washstand sets were. Other Mocha creamware was used chiefly in kitchensjugs, creamers, covered sugar bowls, open salts, mustard pots, eggcups, tumblers, coffeepots and teapots, cups and saucers, bowls, and vegetable dishes. Collectors began to discover Mocha in the 1960's, and it is now one of the fast-selling types of old china.
LUSTERWARE, much easier to recognize, was a great Victorian favorite, especially for tea and dessert sets and for odd pieces. This also is ranked as a collector's item. It was something new that ushered in the nineteenth century in England, although Josiah Wedgwood had started experimenting with lusters in the late 1700's. By the early 1800's, potters throughout the Staffordshire District were making lusterware. The idea of decorating china with metallic or luster pigments actually came from the Near East, where it had been used by the Persians as early as the ninth century. Lusters were probably the Persians' greatest contribution to ceramic decoration. The Moors introduced lusters to Spain, and from there they began a long and interesting history in Europe.
Old luster varies from a rather dull yellow to golden brown, and from olive-green to a metallic iridescence. The lusterware made in England and imported freely into America during the nineteenth century falls into several color groups. Real metals-gold, platinum, and copper-were used to make the metallic pigments.
Silver luster, achieved by the application of a pigment made from platinum, was made first as a less costly imitation of real silver pieces. Sugar bowls, creamers, and teapots were solidly covered with silver luster. Any such pieces found today will not gleam like silver but are likely to be darkened.
After 1820, copper luster became most common, although gold and "pink" luster were great favorities. Purple luster was much darker. A mottled pink and white luster, made about 1850, was called marbled or spotted. Copper luster, which was derived from copper, was sometimes used to cover an entire piece. Mugs and pitchers were often as completely covered with it as sugar bowls and creamers had formerly been with silver luster. Frequently, however, the copper-luster covering was broken up by a band of a transfer-printed or embossed design.