Category Archives: Antiques

Pottery Post Medieval Period ( Part Four )

This post is my last one about Pottery of the Post Medieval times and, as stated in previous posts I have chosen some of the most famous pottery manufacturers as well as my favorites.I will however give a few other popular pottery manufacturers which you may be interested in to study, with a view to collecting in the future.


John Rose began his career as an apprentice at the Caughley Porcelain Manufactory on the opposite bank of the River Severn England. Luckily for John he was apprenticed to Thomas Turner, an eminent engraver and potter. By 1796 when John Rose, and Edward Blakeley a former Mayor of Shrewsbury and a shareholder in the spectacular Iron Bridge built over the River Severn. They bought the Caughley pottery in l799 and set up another at nearby Jackfield a year later, and shortly afterwards moved the complete business to Coalport where they produced a good quality hard-past porcelain

John Rose John Rose.

During the Coalport- Caughley period decoration in the factory was chiefly painting and printing in underglaze blue, with a small amount of enameling. Dinner services decorated with chinoiserie scenes, in imitation of the blue painted Chinese export wares were especially popular , helped by the fact that East India Company had ceased to import Oriental wares. The outstanding designs followed Caughley and included the famous Willow pattern and the Broseley dragon printed in blues-a pure cobalt and lavender- touched with gold.  Painted decoration was minimal on ordinary table ware with simple floral designs.Excavations carried out at the Caughley site clearly identified a popular form of plate with six regularly spaced indentations around the rim, they are of a type that was obviously among those sold in the white glazed state to outside decorators.

Caughley Blue and White Pickle Dish c l800

Caughley Blue and White Pickle Dish c l800. Fisherman and  Cormorant pattern.

During the l800s the Coalport factory produced a range of shapes and patterns but the” Japan ” patterns with their areas of deep underglaze blue and overglazed red ,green and gilt embellishments are prominent. These Japan patterns are associated with the Derby factory but they were common to most ceramic manufacturers.

Coalport Plate Imari design c l8l5

Coalport Dessert Plate Imari design c l8l5.

Coalport Tree of Life Porcelain Plate Imari Design c l8l0Coalport Porcelain plate The Tree of Life pattern c l8l0

The blue and white is usually my favorite but this Coalport Tree of Life pattern is exceedingly beautiful.

Coalport China Bowl Coalport Jardinaire c l795-l8l0

Soon after l8l0 Coalport china was recognized by its soft white tone, clear surface and creamy translucency. Further technical improvements in the early l820s it was made yet more purely white, finer textured, with a high white translucency. A soft, smooth lead glaze was used until l820 when John Rose introduced his celebrated leadless glaze, hard, transparent and highly lustrous. The presence of lead in the glaze had an advert effect on the enamels laid over it, particularly the sensitive tints and those prepared from gold oxide.

In l82l Samuel Walker introduced a beautiful maroon ground which became a Coalport characteristic. Decoration became richer and more varied and in the reign of George lV;  splendid dinner, dessert and tea sets were issued in brilliant colors with highly burnished gilding.

Coalport centrepiece made for the visit of Tsar Nicholas l to England l845

This magnificent centerpiece,  along with the rest of the service, was made at the Coalport Factory for the visit of the Tsar Nicholas l to England in l845. Now in the Coalport China Museum

From the l830s highly ornamented, rococo shapes and flower- encrustation on items such as vases, clock cases, ink-stands. baskets, jugs and pastille burners were overlaid with masses of small flowers. These flower encrusted wares are usually known as Coalbrookdale and maybe so marked in blue.

Coalbrookdale Teapot

A beautiful Coalbrookdale Teapot l9th century

Below   Coalport China Basket.

Coalport China Basket.

Coalport was the first English pottery to reproduce the famous  “rose pompadour” for which a gold medal was awarded at the Great Exhibition.l85l .

Below are some  Coalbrookdale-Coalport marks to be found on some of the pottery items.

Coalbrookdale Marks

Coalport Marks

Here as promised, are a few more names of popular pottery manufacturers from the 18th-19th centuries you may like to research yourselves should you be interested.


Parian Ware was popular in Victorian times because of its marble like beauty and because it was inexpensive to buy at that time. Several English factories claimed credit for its development. But the Staffordshire firm operated by William Taylor Copeland and Thomas Garret was the first to produce and sell it in l842. It was produced by other manufacturers but called  a different name. Copeland called it “Statuary Porcelain ” . Wedgewood named it  “Carrara” but it was Minton who coined the word “Parian”  to suggest Paros, the Greek isle.

Popular forms produced were portrait busts of notables such as Shakespeare, Disraeli, and Napoleon but the Victorians favored pitchers and vases of various sizes and shapes. Potteries all over the British Isles produced Parian. Leading makers of it included, Copeland , Minton, Worcester, Wedgewood, Goss and others.


Parian Ware Jug

Parian Ware Jug.


The Elers Brothers produced Red Stone Wares and were very popular in the l7-l8th century

Elers Teapot c l690-l698

Elers  Red stoneware teapot c l690-l695

Below is an example of a Salt Glazed Stoneware teapot made in Staffordshire painted in enamels c l750.

There are many Staffordshire potters too numerous to add here but you can look them up for yourself if you are interested.

Staffordshire Saltglazed stoneware teapot painted in enamels c l750


Thomas Toft Slipware.

An Early Thomas Toft  Slipware Dish.


Spode l9th century Sucrier

A l9th century Spode hand painted and gilded Sucrier


Remember to look at markings either at the underside of an item or just inside the base rim.

The color of  early gilding is usually a deeper mature gold whereas later gilding is more brassy

Porcelain is transparent as is Parian Ware when held to the light.

China is transparent.

Be aware of fakes as well as reproductions by carrying with you when visiting antique shops the pocket book of marks as given below.


And lastly if you have any questions please ask.


Posted by on July 6, 2013 in Antiques


The Beauty of Pot Lids

In l835 George Baxter patented a printing process which was to revolutionize the production  of full color prints. Before this an engraving had to be hand tinted to produce a colored version, but first by printing the basic image in black outline from an engraved plate, then adding as many as twenty different colors, each printed from a separate plate, Baxter was able to produce exceedingly large amounts  of an image in color very quickly and inexpensively.

When one of Baxters employees left him in l848 to team up with another printer by the name of  F.W.Collins they patented a process similar to Baxters,but for printing on pottery. These men were able to evade the restrictions of Baxters patent by reversing the printing process.

Three separate colors- red-yellow and blue were printed first, then the black outline of the image was added. Felix Pratt a Staffordshire potter and the proprietor of F.& R Pratt and Co in Fenton, realized the commercial possibilities in producing multicolored wares. This factory produced the lids of thousands of small ceramic pots each year as packaging for products such as hand cream, rouge, meat and fish pastes, soothing salves and ointments, these lids were perfect to show off the new decorating technique.

Between l845 and about l875 Pratt and Company’s beautifully decorated pot lids with their wonderful scenes such as those from daily life, portraits of royalty and historical figures also animals, in fact, every picture imaginable were to be seen in most Victorian homes.For forty years the engraver Jessie Austin working with Pratt and Company created the engravings that decorated the lids, producing more than 450 designs over his long career.

Austin first made a drawing of his subject, then from the drawing a series of four copper plates were engraved, one for each of the three primary colors ( red  blue and yellow ) and one for the black outlines. The pot lids were given a preliminary firing, then the colors were printed. By overlapping colors and letting them blend it was possible to create the secondary colors such as green, pink, lavender and orange. The black outlines were printed last then the lids were left to dry for two days.After being coated with a clear glaze they were then fired a final time. Some lids were also gilded around the rim.

The subjects printed on these lids gave a clue as to the contents of the pot. If for instance bears were illustrated this meant that the pot contained bear grease which was used for many purposes one such use for cleaning leather. Scenes with fish or men fishing were used for pots containing fish pastes, likewise meat paste pots illustrated scenes with boars or cattle. The scenes alone gave rise to what the pot contained, very rare were  words. necessary except for the caption.Pratt ware Pot lid  The Shrimping Scene

Pratt Ware  The Shrimping Scene.

Pratt Ware  Bears Grease Pot Lid

This pot contained Bear Grease used for cleaning leather

Pratt Ware  The Game Bag  Pot Lid The Game Bag Pot Lid

Pot Lid Pratt Ware  On Gaurd On Guard

Sentimental scenes of everyday life in Victorian times like a family shown saying grace before a meal or the family sitting around the fire.

Pratt Ware Pot Lid  CourtingThe Courting.

Pratt Ware Pot Lid  The Village Wedding

The Village Wedding.

Prattware Pot Lid  Wimbledon July 2nd l860 Wimbledon July 2nd l860

The Snow Drift Pot Lid The Snow Drift.

These are just a few of the beautiful Pratt Ware Pot Lids and are among my favorites which I think you will agree are delightful and well worth collecting. You can still pick them up at a reasonable price.

And last but not least is a picture of one I managed to purchase myself a few years ago although damaged.

Aviary Complete 019

My Pot Lid.. The scene is of a sleeping tramp  being watched by one young boy from behind a bush while another boy attempts to steal his bundle. The caption is ” I see you my boy “


Posted by on June 28, 2013 in Antiques


Pottery Post Medieval (Part 3 )

Imports of Chinese porcelain through the Dutch East India Company resulted in a large part of the early output of Delft potters being copies or imitations of Chinese wares. As at Nevers, blue-and-white wares were first outlined in purple or black. Often, too, the wares received a second glazing. The backs of plates and dishes, which had initially been covered only with a clear lead glaze, were now covered in lead-tin white. Although at first the Haarlem potters were content to incorporate decorative features of imported Chinese wares into what was otherwise an essentially Netherlands pattern ,by  the middle of the seventeenth century were remarkably accurate copies . For a century patterns of Chinese origin remained the predominant choice of the Delft potters, but from 164l they turned also to copying  Kakiemon  and Imari porcelains. Delft Dish copying Chinese porcelain


In l650 two Southwark  potters established a workshop at Brislington Nr Bristol and in about l665 the production of ‘defltware’ began at Lambeth, presumably by immigrant potters from Delft . In l683 Edward Ward of Brislington set up the Temple pottery at Bristol, and two years later the Burlington pottery was founded in New Jersey, U.S.A., presumably by other craftsmen from Brislington. By l700 two further workshops were established in Bristol. In view of the short intervals between the foundation of these potteries, it is hardly surprising that it is very difficult to distinguish between the wares produced in these centres, but the distinction between Delft and English ‘delft ‘ is more easily made. By the comparison the English wares are more clumsy although the range of motifs such as sketchy flower decorations and landscapes, derived from Delft, or direct copies of Chinese blue-and-white and famille verte porcelain – closely followed those of Delft itself. English delftware of this period has a rustic charm but lacks the sophistication of the Dutch.


Between the mid-seventeenth and opening decade of the eighteenth centuries Lambeth and Bristol potters made large decorative dishes known as blue dash chargers. (These are my favorite of the English delftware)

The term ‘blue dash ‘ derives from the habit of decorating the rim with a series of oblique strokes of blue. This motif comes ultimately from Chinese porcelain, although it is to be found on  Italian, and French faience. The dishes were provided with a flat footrim, which was commonly either bored or given a groove around its circumference for suspension. Many of these dishes bear portraits of the English kings and Queens from Charles l to Queen Anne often only recognizable by the royal insignia. More remarkable than these however, are large dishes painted in floral designs in blue, green, ochre and purple, which unlike the portrait dishes seem to owe nothing to contemporary wares in Western Europe. The flowers depicted are usually tulips or carnations.Delft Blue dash Charger Lambeth

A Typical Delft Blue dash Charger probably Lambeth.

English Delft Blue-dash Royal portrait charger of Charles ll

Delft Royal portrait Blue dash Charger of Charles ll

Delft type wares have a clay colored body which has been coated with an opaque, whitish (oxide of tin) glaze This glaze tends to chip at the edges, exposing the clay body. The Delft technique  was widely used on the continent, and in England was made at London (Lambeth and Southwark), Bristol, Dublin, Glasgow, Limerick, Liverpool and Wincanton, from the l7th century into the eighteen century, when it was out-moded by the new cream wares.

Delftware apothecary Dry Drug Jar c 1710 England.

Delft Apothecary dry drug jar c l7l0 England. Note chipping of glaze around the rim.

Blue Delft markings appear on the underside of the piece and consist of some common elements. Early pieces feature a large V’ with a C’ on the upper right.

A Delft dish in the Fitzwilliam Museum

A Delft dish. Courtesy of the Fitzwilliam Museum Another example of Delft marking.

Delft Mark

These are the only examples of Delft ware marks I could find.  If you are interested in Delft Pottery maybe you could do some further research yourself and if you are also interested to collect this really lovely pottery good luck.


Posted by on June 20, 2013 in Antiques


Pottery (Post Medieval Period) Part two

My previous post on post Medieval pottery which I will call  Part One, was all about The Royal Worcester Porcelain (The early years)  these wares now antiques are highly collectable and as previously stated there are still bargains to be had out there once you know what to look for.

This post is about another of my favorite pottery manufacturers that of  ” Wedgwood ”

JOSIAH WEDGWOOD  ( The early years )

In 1752 Josiah set up his own business but two years later at the age of 24, he was taken into partnership by Thomas Wieldon. Around this time Josiah decided something new was needed to add a little spirit to the business, which is why Wieldon was agreeable to enter into the partnership with so younger man. Wedgwood and Wieldon began their research into glazes, and in 1759 a greatly improved green glaze was produced, followed a year later by a clear yellow one..

Josiah Wedgwood 1730-1795

Josiah Wedgwood.

The partnership ended in 1759 and Wedgwood set  up his own business again at the Ivy House Works in Burslem. moving five years later to the Brick House, Burslem. Before this it is difficult to distinguish  those of Wieldon, for he made the same range of wares, including jugs and teapots modeled in the form of pineapples and cauliflowers embellished with his green and yellow glazes..

Wedgwood Teapot 1759 Green Glaze

Wedgwood Green Glaze Teapot c 1759

Wedgwood Teapot Cauliflower wares

Wedgewood Cauliflower Teapot.

By 1762 Josiah Wedgwood was so confident in his ability to produce colored wares, that he presented a  breakfast set to Queen Charlotte, and in 1765 referred to his cream ware as “Queens Ware ”

Collection of Wedgwood Creamwares.

A collection of Wedgwood pierced Cream Wares. 1780-1800

1768 The merchant Bentley became his partner manufacturing decorative items that were primarily unglazed stone wares in various colors, produced and decorated in the style of Neoclassicism. Among these wares were the popular black basalts which by special painting using pigments, mixed with hot wax which burnt in as an inlay, thus could be used to imitate Greek and red-figured vases. Wedgwood’s Jasper ware a fine grained vitreous body resulting from the high firing of paste containing barium sulphate was also produced. In 1771 Wedgwood built a factory called Etruria where he produced his ornamental vases.

Jasper ware was made of white stoneware clay that had been colored by the addition of metal oxides and ornamented  with white relief portraits or Greek Classical scenes.

wine_water_ewers Wedgwood Jasper wares.

Two beautiful Jasper ware wine-water ewers. about 1785.

Wedgwood Black Basalt

Wedgwood Black Basalt a hard black stone-like material was used for

vases, candlesticks, teapots, jugs and busts of historical figures.

The Portland Vase.

Wedgwood’s famous Portland Vase.

Jasper’s introduction in  1775  was followed by other wares such as: – rosso antico ( red porcelain) cane, and olive wares.

For those of you wishing to collect early Wedgwood here are a few pottery marks to refer to.

Wedgewood Pottery Marks 2

Wedgewood Pottery Marks.Many of the Staffordshire potters and others copied Wedgwood styles which are sometimes unmarked but  still of good quality. Lookout for the name Wedgewood this is a fake copy.

Note:- true Wedgwood is not spelt with an e in the middle.

For those of you wishing to collect early Wedgwood I hope this post will help to identify the piece you may spot at maybe a car boot sale or an Antique shop or even at a market stall…….It has been known.

Watch this space for more about Post Medieval pottery.

Good luck.

Many of Josiah Wedgwood’s designs are still being produced today.

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Posted by on June 12, 2013 in Antiques


Pottery (Post Medieval Period )


The post medieval pottery covers a wide range of forms and decoration. Cups, bowls ,plates,  dishes, serving dishes, drinking vessels, teapots,  jugs and many more were produced in Britain as well as some imports.

The potters producing these wares were numerous   and well known, those such as Wedgewood, Copeland, Worcester Porcelain, Spode, Masons Ironstone China, Crown Derby, Minton and many more and ranging in date from the 15th century onwards. Wares consisted of color painted wares also blue and white painted as well as transfer printed pottery items.

I will choose the most popular pottery manufacturers and my favorites for the beginner as stated in my previous posts about pottery, although previous ones were linked with archaeology. This post is  more to do with antiques so may also encourage antique collecting as there are still some bargains out there if you know what to look for.


In 1751 on the banks of the river seven in Worcestershire England Dr John Wall and a group of  local businessmen established a porcelain manufactory. From this formation it took the Worcester Porcelain factory just  thirty years to create wares to be easily distinguishable and so establish a superior quality.Worcester had obtained licences to mine soapstone in Cornwall and Worcester soapstone porcelain did not crack when boiling water was poured into it giving  Worcester a significant advantage over other producers.

1st period Worcester Teabowl and Saucer  Bird in the ring c1760-1765

Dr Wall Period Tea bowl and Saucer (Bird in a Ring pattern)

Worcester Rose Water Bottle Willow Pattern c 1760

Willow pattern Rose Water  Bottle. c 1760

Hard paste porcelain is made of two ingredients- kaolin (clay)  and petuntse (decomposed granite). European countries were unable to unlock the secret to the formula  so they made their own first porcelain by substituting different materials. Kaolin instead of soapstone for instance. The soapstone made the porcelain withstand the heat of boiling water and produced tea services that were very much in demand.The earliest Worcester Porcelain was painted in blue under the glaze which proved to be the most popular ware throughout the first ten years. The art of painting on the glaze in enamel colors was also mastered.

A beautiful Dr Wall 1st period Worcester Vase.

A beautiful Dr Wall period painted vase.

Dr Wall period Cup and Saucer Dr Wall period Cup and saucer.

Early Dr Wall Sauceboat.

The history of these early Dr Wall period Sauceboats

Sauceboats during this period were used for gravies made from roast beef much as we  do today but flavored with wine ,citrus  juices, and capers. Other sauces had a ‘ roux ‘ base made by combining butter or lard with flour and broth or milk, and flavored with parsley , onions, celery, anchovies, oysters , cockles or eggs. Butter sauces, served in smaller sauceboats or butter boats, frequently accompanied vegetables. A hot sauce of wine butter and sugar was the most common one for puddings.

1st period Worcester Porcelain Teapot decorated with chinese figures c 1770

Teapots are my favorite .This is of the Dr Wall period and painted with chinese figures c 1770


By 1756 Although the actual origin is controversial the engraver Robert Hancock working at the Worcester Porcelain is believed to have mastered the art of decoration by transfer printing. Towards the end of the 18th century The Worcester Porcelain was commissioned to make the first Royal service for the Duke of Gloucester and was painted with different groups of fruit on each piece.

At the retirement of Dr Wall in 1774 his partners continued production until Thomas Flight purchased the factory. The Flight and Barr periods in their various styles firmly established the factory as one of the leading porcelain manufacturers in Europe. In 1775 Thomas Turner left Worcester and set up a rival factory at Caughley  in Shropshire, where he mass produced blue and white table wares in a similar style to those of Worcester.

Flight Barr and Barr period Worcester Porcelain c 1815 Japan Pattern.

The Flight Barr & Barr period Worcester Porcelain c 1815 Japan Pattern.

Caughley  Pickle leaf dish Underglaze blue transfer print c1780-95

Caughley Pickle Leaf Dish c 1780-95 Under glaze blue Transfer print

Fisherman and Cormorant Pattern

Caughley fluted coffee cup underglaze blue c 1785

Caughley Fluted Coffee Cup under glaze blue c 1785. The fluting is sometimes a way of recognizing Caughley wares.

By 1789 the quality of their work at Worcester was held in such high esteem that following a visit  to the factory King George 111  granted the company the prestigious  ‘ Royal Warrant ‘ as manufacturers to their Majesties. Thus the word ‘ Royal ‘ was added to the name. Indeed while its rivals of the period at Bow and Chelsea have long since disappeared, The Worcester Royal Porcelain Manufacturing became world famous and is now one of the largest manufacturers of fine bone china in England. This record is a tribute to the quality of the ware produced for two hundred and fifty years.

Below are some potters marks to help identify Early Worcester Porcelain

The first early worcester mark

Flight Barr Marks


Because there is so much detail to enter onto my blog about post medieval pottery I will post them individually I hope you enjoyed my first which is my favorite The Worcester Porcelain  Dr Wall Period.


Posted by on June 3, 2013 in Antiques


The Beauty of Antique Beadwork.

The beautiful blue turquoise or pottery beads in Iran and Syria,the colourful strings of Wampum changing hands among American Indians, the elegent seedpearls used to decorate the doublets of many Elizebethen courtiers- and the variety of materials which have fallen under the heading of beadwork is phenomenal. A string of beads told one of many things about its wearer.It could betray his superstitious nature- as he wore it as protection against evil spirits or enemies he might have.

Earliest beadwork utilised bits of every day litter such as, Opalescent shells washed up on rocky beaches,pips or seeds from fruit,the bones of small animals all were useful as ornament. The Egyptians refined their beadwork collar material,producing fine,smooth small pellets of lapis lazuli,amythest,cornelian and gold for the best pieces,and perfecting a method for producing a type of pottery faience bead for everyday wear.

The tiny glass bead we associate with most beadwork today originated with the Mycenaen Greeks and were first gilded,later plain They were strung onto necklaces interspersed with gold pendants and ornaments creating fringe-like droplets. The Romans and Etruscans both experimented with glass beads but later preferred  strings of polished uncut gemstones.

Many of the 19th century pincushions and smaller domestic articles found in antique shops today, include bead motifs such as, The Dove of Peace, The Oak Leaf and The English Rose were the product of commercial minded squaws on reservations and Indian settlements. Many other articles include watch-cases, purses,pin-cushions, bell pulls,curtain sashes and hair tidies all made by outworkers and cottage industries.The gents love token-usually from a sailor or army man in the shape of an embroidered,bead-bedecked heart, became another popular item. Often the coloured beads picked out a regiments number or the skeleton of a ship in full sail.

Long afternoons were spent by well-to-do ladies in their leasure time making table edgings and fringes,chair and footstool covers. The Victorian moral code was that “time should be well spent”. Later beadwork became more elaborate and smaller articles were being made that could be found about a lady’s person such as, bodkin holders,scissor sheilds and many other small items. The holders of quill pens also showed a flourish of beading-Queen Marie Antoinette is said to have had a liking for this pleasant touch.Purses and handbags were often made by stitching beads one by one into a canvas of net ground.

 Victorian beadwork pocket watch holders.

 Collection of  Victorian Beadwork.All C.1858 includes two ladies hair tidies bottom left and the tiny scissors case on the right is a particular delicate example of the craft.

 One of the earliest pieces of beadwork,the sovereign, or” misers purse” is one of the most difficult of beaded products to make.These long sausage or duffle-shaped coin bags were either crocheted or knitted,with the beads dropped in at planned intervals. The end piece or” garniture” was usually composed of beads and decorated both terminals,so that two fringe edges hung on either side of ones belt where the purse was designed to loop(see illustration) A slot was left in the side of the purse itself and two gilt rings narrowed the centre portion,so the aperature was closed and the coins allowed to slide to either of the fringed ends. A mind blowing excersize to say the least.

A fine piece of Victorian needlework- beadwork firescreen.

After 1865 the artisans began to diversify, beaded handscreens made to sheild delicate complextions from the heat of parlour fires,bell ropes,and pictures of beaded vases and flowers under glass,collars,cuffs and capes,chairbacks and sofa cushions,tea cosies, pin cushions,watch cases(a Victorian/Edwardian type mitton to keep timepieces warm at night) and even candlesticks, all glories in the glittery glamour of the new-found medium.The 1860’s brought the velvet dresses,shawls and parasols embroidered with jet as a result of mourning Prince Alberts demise.and used thereafter at funerals. Beaded slippers were another popular item and the Berlin woolwork was often enriched with beading.

Beaded pieces in good condition are hard to find, but once found,they can be kept in a good condition with minimum effort. A piece should never be cleaned with a vacuum but may be washed in soapy water with a very soft brush. It should be laid out horizontally when drying and if put in storage should be packed flat if possible,it should never be folded since the threads will have become brittle with age.

When I was in the antique trade in the 1970’s – 80’s, beadwork pieces were reasonably cheap. A Victorian pin cushion for instance would cost around three pounds where a tea cosy would be about fifteen pounds.Todays prices obviously much higher depending whether you manage to spot a bargain. Some of the most desirable pieces are those in the turquoise-blue beads,so they tend to be more expensive. But colour combinations and themes,from the subdued and tasteful to the garish exist to please every eye. And what teapot could feel prouder or pocket- watch( or in fact today’s wrist-watch) warmer,than in the cuddly confines of a handbeaded mitton made by, who knows? maybe one of your ancesters.

These lovely Victorian wooden boxes held beads.Pin cushion front of picture.

.Also two tube boxes front of picture held needles.Blue box back right, was for pins.

 This little box was for the cotton which was placed over

the prongs and the cotton thread pulled through holes at the side.

 Two pretty little lace bobbins. Small items such as these are well worth collecting as they don’t take up too much storage room and should be reasonably priced for todays collector.


Posted by on August 4, 2012 in Antiques


A Short History of Pewter Tankards


Some time ago,in fact, it was the year 1970 that I became interested in Antiques,so much so that I wanted to study them. I began my research into the art of Ceramics and soon realised there was much to learn about this particular subject so I decided to enrol into the evening classes where Henry Sandon  “Antiques Roadshow”  was lecturing about Ceramics from the 12th to the 20th Centuries.This began for me as a hobby but I will come back to this subject at a later date, because todays post is about Pewter Tankards.

Nothing looks better than pewter on old oak furntiture. Pewter looks right with it. Take any black oak sideboard or dresser and try a couple of pieces of silver on it. No? Well what about a pair of brass candlesticks. Yes that looks better you may think,but now try a couple of pewter tankards and you will see what I mean.

Pewter is a delightfully warm,friendly alloy. If champagne should always be drunk from a silver tankard,then beer should be drunk from a pewter one,ideally with a glass bottom,so you can see if any enemy comes through the door while you are drinking;We are talking about past days of course. Or as another version has it so that if the recruiting sergeant or the press-gang leader drops the monarch’s shilling into your mug you will spot it before you finish your beer and will not find yourself an unwilling conscript. 

The first English pewter is Romano-British and dates back as far as the year 400 B.C. Then suddenly, for no apparent reason,this delightful alloy,comprising 90 per cent Cornish tin and 10 per cent lead,copper or antimony,fell out of favour and did not make its re-appearence until the 14th century.Pewter tankards began to make an appearence during the 16th century..

Charles ll,as one of his many methods of aquiring wealth without recourse to Parliament ,took to annexing the silver of his nobles,who tended to replace it with pewter, rather than risk losing the replacements the next time the King came to dinner.It was, however some years before the merry monarch ascended the throne,about 1635 in fact, that pewterers began to use marks, in addition to their own touch marks,which are very similar to silver hallmarks-causing therby  much wrath and so little litigation on the part of the Goldsmiths’ Company.

Tankards,flagons and similar items are, however, datable by shape, and any markings which provide confirmation and additional information are all things to look for if you are contemplating starting a collection. As a matter of fact,the touchplates recording the touchmarks of pewterers before 1666 were lost in the great fire of London.

The earliest pewter tankards were squatt,straight- sided and tapered upwards,with flat lids,usually hinged with ornamental thumbpieces,although even more desirable pieces were made at the same time with cylindrical instead of tapered form.

Towards the end of the 17th century ,lidless tankards also put in an appearance,designed for ale-houses , and many of those which servive today carry engraved on the body the name of the hostelry they adorned .A century later  an American living in London recorded that it was possible to send to the pub for beer,which would be brought by the servant of the ” tap-house”, complete with pewter mugs bearing the owners name,and that each morning the same servant would go from house to house  collecting the mugs, which he strung on a leather strap for ease of transport.

Coming back to the earliest tankards, the flat covers were sometimes embellished with saw-tooth serrations at the front,so that when the domed cover came into vogue at about 1690,this practice was continued, and remained until the beginning of the second decade of the 18th century. About the time that these serrations were unfavourable the plain drum of the tankard gained the embellishment of a fillet moulding about two thirds down its body. which remained until around 1725,when the straight- sided tankard  began to be replaced in public favour of the bell and tulip shapes. These shapes were especially popular in the West of England,and Howard Cotterell’s Old Pewter, Its Makers and Marks(Published by Batsford,London in 1929 and reprinted in 1963), which has been regarded as the pewter collector’s Bible for many years remarks that 80 per cent of early tulip tankards bore the touch-marks of pewterers from either Bristol or Exeter.

It did not take long for these new shapes to catch on,and although the domed lid fell out of use at about 1775, the tulip and bell shape remained in favour right through the 19th century, getting even more swag-bellied as time passed. Glass bottoms appeared about 1895.

A  ten and a quarter inch cylindrical lidded flagon with scroll handle and open shaped thumb piece and domed cover.It dates from the first half of the 17th century. The bulbous shape next to it suggests its 18th century date and is probably German.

 A lovely wine flagon(“Kelchkanne”) by Jacob Valin of Geneva,the collar surmounted by a heart- shaped cover with a twin- acorn thumbpiece. This mid 17th century flagon height 9 3/4″ changed hands at an auction on June 19th in 1973 for 200 pounds. I guess the value has risen substantually since then.


Above a 7″ William and Mary tankard c 1790 with the makers mark ” I. B ” and a good flat lidded flagon by “W .W”  c1690. The William and Mary tankard sold for 250 pounds and the flagon 540 pounds on June 19th 1973. 

 Anyone wishing to collect pewter today will have to search for bargains which sometimes can be found at car boot sales or antique fairs, but before you do, research your item thoroughly there are plenty of books on all subjects to do with the antique world.  Check my blog for further post about the recognition of antiques.

With regards to the cleaning of old pewter tankards is simple and logical.If it is going to be used,it has to be cleaned.If it is purely for ornamentation it is not necessary -and with a really old piece it is downright foolish Why! because you will remove the patina it has aquired over the years,just a gentle wipe over with a soft cloth will suffice..However major cleaning jobs should be done by experts.

As regards to the future, and the present less wealthy collector,Victorian pub tankards,with the name of the pub usually engraved on the bottom,though once despised are going up in price but worth while collecting, also as the supply of pewter gets smaller,and correspondingly more expensive,Brittania Metal must surely now be an antique of the future.


Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Antiques

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