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How to Identify the Marked Potteries

Aug 17, 2007
It is very difficult to identify potteries and their maker due to the non-availability of their names or only signature, which are very difficult to identify for the collectors. Wine bottles are one of the easiest one to identify with their dates and names. There were many dishes, candlesticks, vases and other pieces with different glazes and paintings with varied themes like Adam and Eve, the reigning monarch and family and sometimes the paintings of nature.

Among such pieces are a number of wine-bottles with dates from 1637 to 1672, and painted also with the names of wines: 'Claret', 'Sack' and 'Whit' (White). On these the painting is very sparse and the white body is often tinged with pale pink; a feature of tin-glaze. Allied to these bottles are a number of dishes, candlesticks, vases and other pieces, completely unpainted but of which many show the same slightly pink glaze. Also with this characteristic are pieces painted with the coats-of-arms of London companies, in particular the Company of Apothecaries with their motto 'Opiferque Per Orbem Dicor' found on shaped flat pill-slabs.

During the seventeenth century were produced a great number of large dishes, called sometimes 'blue-dash' chargers from their borders being painted with a series of dashes in blue. They are skillfully painted in colors, and the subjects on them vary from Adam and Eve to scenes of the reigning monarch and his family. Many are dated, but there is ground for viewing some of the dates with suspicion; one dish showing Charles I and his family is dated 1653 although he had died eight years earlier, and another of'1614' is of a type considered to have been made not less than thirty years after. No reason has yet been found to account for these discrepancies.

Until about 1660 London delftware was made at Aldgate or Southwark, but shortly afterwards potteries were opened in Lambeth, which soon expanded and became the most important in England. By this time some of the Southwark potters had started a works at Brislington, near Bristol, and within a further period there were potteries operating in Bristol itself and in Wincanton, Somerset, and by 1710 in Liverpool. A group of Lambeth potters was working in Glasgow in 1748, and potteries were operating in Ireland at Dublin (from about 1737) and Limerick (from 1762).

These various potteries not only owed their beginnings to the efforts and skill of men from their fellow-manufactories, but these very men did much the same work in their new homes as they had done in their old. The variations in clays, glazes and colors between one factory and another are slight, and the wares must often be apportioned to each factory on other evidence. Excavations made on the site of former potteries, and pieces that have remained in the hands of descendants of known potters and painters, and similarly documented specimens give a more reliable picture. Unfortunately, there is still not enough accumulated evidence to make certain identification possible in the majority of instances.

All the English delftware potteries in the eighteenth century copied principally Chinese imported ware, with a marked predominance of painting in blue. A quantity of commemorative pieces was made, and includes many recording coronations. Other inscribed pieces bear initials and dates, but rarely, if ever, was anything resembling a factory mark employed. Tin-glazed earthenware was enormously popular in its day as can be seen from the great number of surviving specimens, but towards the end of the eighteenth century it succumbed to the superior merit and lower cost of cream ware.

It is some time very difficult to identify the variations in clays, glazes and colors between the different products of different factories. And the copied potteries of the Chinese imported ware made it more difficult to trace the defects. But then the copied had to succumb to the quality of the original products.
About the Author
Mitch Johnson is a regular writer for http:// www.kids-games-n-crafts.com / , http://www.craftsmadeeasy.info/ , http://www.bathroomaccessoriesmadeeasy.info/
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