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Oriental China - Clobber Ware

( Originally Published 1911 )

MANY lovely specimens of blue and white with the Kang-he marks, with the double rings or with the leaf symbol inside the double rings under the glaze, genuine specimens of old Kang-he, have been irretrievably spoilt by being plastered over with thick enamels of red, green, blue, &c. The old English word "clobber " means a paste to conceal cracks in shoes, and the pity of the clobber decoration was that the enamels, having been burnt in, are to all intents and purposes irremovable. Before me, as I write, is a Kang-he vase with a leaf symbol within the double circle, showing a real old Kang-he blue and white production, but unfortunately the clobberer has plastered coloured enamel over the blue decoration, now faintly visible, and only where a transparent green or pink glaze has been applied ; the rest is absolutely hidden by opaque glazes of rose and yellow, white, lilac, and blue, until the character of the Oriental piece has been entirely destroyed. The number of pieces so spoiled seemed to indicate that there was a demand for clobber ware, or that, as we noted, blue and white was not popular, or that it was imported for redecoration in the absence of white ware which could be used for the same purpose.

Chinese porcelain in its white state was freely imported into Europe and decorated in the factories of Holland, France, Germany, and Italy, as well as in this country.

Every one who collects china is familiar with the so-called Lowestoft decoration, not a thousandth part of which ever saw Lowestoft; in fact, that researches which have been made at Lowestoft indicate that the manufacture was soft paste resembling early Bow and Worcester. Of course, some white Oriental china may have been deco-rated there, though no traces of broken hard paste seem to have been found in the excavations. It may be that Bow, Chelsea, and Worcester did decorate white Oriental china, but the information we have on this point is singularly weak and inconclusive. The clobber decoration is not alone in enamel colours or gold, but even lacquer is used for the same purpose. It is needless to say that the change is never to the advantage of the piece, and often the under-glaze blue may be seen peeping as it were, reproachfully from beneath the overlying transparent enamel.

Another, but similar name, is sometimes applied to this style of decoration. It is said that an enameler named Globber—hence Globber ware—redecorated white and blue porcelain with enamels at Soho during the latter part of the eighteenth century.

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