Passion for Porcelain
At our last meeting HHCG was delighted to welcome Peter White to hear about Bow Porcelain of the eighteenth century and specifically 1745-1767 and the ‘A’ mark used in 1745. Peter’s passion for Bow has spanned fifty years and many fine examples are in his private collection.
The description of Bow porcelain at that time accompanied by numerous examples and comparisons enabled us to understand the importance of Bow and how the first patent applicants were innovative in their time. In 1744, patents for the manufacture of ware superior to china/porcelain were taken out and the ‘A’-marked group (Bows first patented wares) represent the earliest commercial porcelains to have been made in the English speaking world.
The key to the success of Bow porcelain was that while it was an emulative rival of the Chelsea porcelain factory and imported Chinese and Japanese ware it was significantly more durable. However the initial ‘A’ mark porcelain was notoriously uneven of finish, glassy and the glaze tended towards ivory and as a result production ceased after a year. Peter was able to show us fine examples of ‘A’ mark porcelain from his collection explaining that all English factories were competing with Chinese porcelain at that time and prospered or failed dependent upon the quality or price of their products or indeed, updated fashion. The products were not commercial and in 1746 – 1747 the paste was changed and the ’A’ mark was not used again.
Many, many pieces in Peter’s vast collection illustrated the various ways that Bow produced copies of Meissen, Chelsea, Derby and Worcester porcelain and he helped us to identify the differences in the examples. Bow undercut their rivals on cost by as much as half!
A most interesting and informative lecture with discussion afterwards, viewing a small number of fine pieces that Peter had kindly displayed.
Pat Preller gave the first talk of our new year on “New Hall and Related Factories”. Pat is an expert on printed British pottery and has published two books on the subject of New Hall. David Holgate’s book ‘New Hall and Its Imitators’ (1973) sparked her interest in New Hall.
The New Hall Company is historically linked with two hard-paste factories in Plymouth and Bristol under the direction of William Cooksworthy and Richard Champion, who carried on successfully for a decade or so before the business suffered under the export restrictions imposed during the course of the American Civil War of Independence and although Champion tried to circumvent these measures, it was without success. Eventually the patents for the production of his hard-paste material were disposed of to a consortium of Staffordshire potters, Messrs Hollins, Keeling, Turner, Clowes and Bagnall. This consortium took control of the Champion’s business and in 1781 started production in an existing pottery belonging to Keeling in Tunstall, Staffordshire. However this arrangement was not to last and disagreements between the partners resulted in the departure of Turner and Keeling with the remaining members relocating the business to Shelton Hall, which belonged to Thomas Palmer. To avoid confusion, as Shelton was a common name in the area, it duly became Shelton New Hall and shortened to the New Hall. New Hall continued until 1835 when the site was sold for development and today there is a supermarket on the original site.
Pat showed a comprehensive selection of slides of New Hall output highlighting the variety of patterns and illustrating comparisons to the related factories. New Hall produced practical domestic china – jugs, bowls, dinner services, dessert wares, punch bowls and a great many tea sets. Pat explained how to identify New Hall by its distinctive features – its handles; pedestal bases and spouts for example. The mark on the bases was often the pattern number preceded by a script “N” or the letter “No”. Often the patterns were quite distinctive although similar to other factories – sometimes trimmed with gold leaf, which made them look very sophisticated. Gold however was used quite sparingly at New Hall. Many Bristol shapes and patterns were retained and as time went on, a limited range was decided upon, notably teapots. Cream jugs were made to correspond with the teapots.
New Hall Pottery is sometimes know as the “sprig” because many of the designs include a basket of flowers accompanied by scattered sprigs and has now become very collectable. There is an extensive collection in the V & A Museum in London including the “insect” decorated water jug and examples of Fidelle Duivivier’s work – a fine decorator of Ceramics, along with many other examples of cream jugs, tea bowls, mugs, teapots et cetera.