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English Porcelain: Apple-Green
( Originally Published 1913 )
Apple-green! It sounds like the name of a village, a Worcestershire hamlet where elm-shadowed cottages outline a triangle of ancient turf, or a Home County village where the green is a part of a common. Ham Green and Rowney Green in Worcestershire I know, and Kew Green and Paddington Green in Metropolitan latitudes but what of apple-green?
"Apple-green" is the name of a colour, a colour used in soft English china. Sevres had its Pomme veyte, but that was not the true apple-green. Vainly you will look for apple-green on Oriental porcelain; the Ming, celadon, and famille verte greens are metallic, peacocky, and chilly greens. As Miss Deane well wrote, "it is when we come to the more homely English wares that we get the underlying warm yellow suggestion, that recalls the greenness of an English landscape when the trees unfold."
Much Sought For. Now it is just that delicate warm, comfortable eye-resting, clear tint of green in English china that is so sought after by many collectors of English porcelain nowadays. Apple-green they will have, and up go the prices for apple-green.In step the counterfeiters-a tea-service in sham " Coalport " apple-green nearly took me in the other day. But the time when you could buy it in sets at the price of new crockery is past. In her "Recollections of a Scottish Novelist," Mrs. L. B. Walford tells how, somewhere about the year 1840, her parents purchased a mansion in Scotland, and "bought it as it stood, furnished, and stocked with glass and china." The china "proved to be Crown Derby of the best period."
Derby, "I think, is the best "apple-green " "and Worcester with a glaze that made collectors stare" "Worcester" is often good "apple-green" and Lowestoft. And these were the ordinary breakfast, tea, and dinner sets put down in the house-agent's list as table china! "Mrs. Walford exclaims. Her mother never dreamed of such china being "too good for human nature's daily food," and only when Mrs. Walford came to be "much in contact with people who pursued the supremely fascinating study of the moment" did she discover "the real status of the cups and platters so lightly esteemed. Now they are in a glass case." She adds, "I like the old way best."
A Fascinating Line.The study of the moment? The cult of old English china is not for the moment, but will come to be "for all time." Soft English china, as a whole, is steadily appreciating in the market, because the number of collectors of it increases every month. I can well understand a collector confining his or her acquisitions to "apple-green," though I have never limited myself to one line. And because apple-green is so much sought for now, and its price has so much increased, I look with a double complacency upon some apple-green bordered bread-and-butter plates, which I bought for five shillings each seven years ago. They are marked Bloor Derby, gadroon-edged, and "painted with Billingsley's flowers," as it says in the old patternbooks of the old Derby China works.
"Worcester" apple-green is slightly darker than "Derby" apple-green; it resembles the hue of a ripening apple-I mean the green part of it-and it is a very translucent green.The " Davenport " applegreen resembles the hue of the "Worcester" applegreen very nearly, but is not so fine, smooth, and translucent under the glaze. "Coalport" apple-green is rather pea-green in tint- I do not mean pea-soup colour, but peascod colour, not unlike the green of "Chelsea." "Swansea" produced a darker applegreen, but the whiteness and transparency of the paste and glaze at Swansea and Nantgarw caused the Swansea and Nantgarw apple-greens to be very vivid. "Rockingham" green is not quite an apple-green, it is more like the green of some "Chamberlain Worcester," and it is often spoiled by being flecked with gilt. And only minor examples of "Longton Hall" porcelain can be considered apple-green at all.
Earthenware Apple-Green. The bases of Walton figures in Staffordshire earthenware are often the true apple-green; Whieldon ware and Ralph Wood figures are tinted a paler, cooler hue than that. Wedgwood and other Staffordshire dessert-services, leaf or fruitshaped, are a darker green than the true apple-colour, which one has to know very well, by visual memory, when hunting for the real, the exquisite, the inimitable rare old thing.