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Tips on How to Identify a Good Potter

Aug 17, 2007
The collectors of different potteries have used the different ways identifying the makers or potters of different potteries and porcelain wares. The changes in the ownership of many factories have also created confusions in identifying the potters. Some places produce the best of porcelain wares and Chelsea was responsible for the most beautiful porcelain material ever made.

An anchor in gold was used from 1758-69.
From 1749, Nicholas Sprimont, originally a silversmith from Liege, managed the factory and under his direction it reached great heights. The most important period lasted from 1752 until 1758, and includes three sales by auction of which the catalogues of two have survived. By means of these, many of the articles then made have been identified, and a clear idea gained of the diversity of pieces current.

The most significant are the figures, many after Dresden but many original, and having ample individuality in modelling and coloring. By this time, most of the wares were painted at the factory, and the work of several artists with recognizably personal styles has been recorded. From the mark that was used this is known as the Red Anchor period, and W. B. Honey suggested that Chelsea was then responsible for 'perhaps the most beautiful porcelain material ever made'.

The following Gold Anchor period saw a trend to more ambitious pieces; large figures and groups, vases and costly table services, decorated in brilliant colorings and often heavily gilt. The factory eventually ceased to pay and was sold in 1769.

Bought by William Duesbury of Derby, it continued manufacturing until 1784, but the wares were not to be compared with those of former days. One specialty of Chelsea deserves a mention: the so-called 'Toys', or miniature pieces in the form of seals, scent-bottles, snuff-boxes, etc., which were made in large numbers and remain as popular today as they were in the 1760's. Of these, a few miniature figures bear the anchor in red but none of the other trifles has any mark. A scent-bottle, in the British Museum, is dated 1759.

Bow
In 1744 Thomas Frye and a partner for a method of making porcelain-using clay imported from America took out a patent. Four years later, Frye alone took out another patent in which bone ash was included as a further ingredient. It is known that a man named George Arnold financed the company until his death in 1751, but little is certain yet about the type of ware produced before that date. Visual identification can be confirmed with reasonable certainty; Bow was the first factory to incorporate bone ash in the paste used, and its presence can be proved by simple chemical analysis. In 1753 the firm opened a warehouse in Cornhill, in the City of London, and employed an ex-navy man, John Bowcock, as clerk; some of Bowcock's account books and papers have been preserved, although others have since been lost, and they add a little to the meager history known at present.

Bow made many figures, but only rarely do they approach the standards of modelling and painting of Chelsea. Contemporary accounts reveal that they concentrated on tableware, and much of this, decorated in under glaze blue, has survived. Many of the earlier pieces were sold uncolored, and those that were painted often show decoration in the current Chinese and Japanese styles. Many of the figures are after Dresden models, but a number are original; mugs were a popular production and on many of them the handle terminates in the shape of a heart where. it is joined to the body.

The factory closed in 1776 after one of the later owners had died and the other had gone bankrupt, and like Chelsea Duesbury of Derby bought it. Many of the figures can be recognized by the use of a vivid purple-red colour used often to outline the scrolling on bases, and by opaque blue enamel used for clothing, etc. The edges of plates and other pieces sometimes show small areas of brown staining where the glaze is thin or absent. There was no definite mark used on the factory's wares, but a number of different ones were used by painters. Most of the pieces are unmarked.

The British Museum had kept some interesting articles, which had helped in identifying the different types and designs of porcelain wares and their dates of productions. Some of them are called 'Toys', or miniature pieces in the form of seals, scent-bottles, snuff-boxes, etc., which were made in large numbers and remain as popular today as they were in the 1760's.
About the Author
Mitch Johnson is a regular writer for http://www.kids-games-n-crafts.com/ , http://www.guidetocrafts.info/ , http://www.bathroomaccessoriesmadeeasy.info/
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