Notebook, 1993-


POTTERY AND PORCELAIN - Glossary - A List of Museums and Galleries - Ceramics - [A materials resource site with links]

American - Austrian - Belgian - Chinese - Danish - Dutch - English - French - German

Italian - Japanese - Korean - Russian - Spanish - Swiss

G l o s s a r y - Pottery & Porcelain
A-Cd - Ce-Der - Dev-In - Ir-Me - Mi-Roc - Roo-Wed - Wel-Z

Absolon. See Independent Decorators.

Adam. A number of potters of this name worked in Staffordshire in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries

Adam and Eve. A favoured subject on delftware 'chargers' [first dated example 1635, but continued well into the eighteenth century] and slipware, also for stoneware 'Pew' groups. 'AF' mark. See Bow.

Agateware. Wares made in imitation of agate. They were made either of differently coloured clays, mixed, and with the colours going right through the body of the piece, or the effect was achieved by means of coloured clays on the surface of plain pottery.

Albany slip. The diluted, creamy state of a fine clay found near Albany, New York, on the bank of the Hudson River. Of rich dark-brown colour, sometimes used as a glaze, or after c. 1800 for coating the interior of salt-glazed stoneware vessels. In 1843, the New York Geological Survey said it was 'known and shipped all over the country'.

Albarello. A cylindrical jar made to contain ointments or dry medicaments. The neck is grooved for tying on a parchment cover. Those with a spout were for liquids.

Allen, Robert [1744-1835]. An artist at the Lowestoft, Suffolk, porcelain factory from 1757, and manager there from about 1780. On the closing of the works in 1802 Allen set up as an enameller of white porcelain on his own account. A Chinese tea pot and cover in the Schreiber Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, has the body painted with a Crucifixion scene, the cover bears some flowers, and the base is signed: Allen, Lowestoft. The religious scene was painted in China, and the flowers probably in Lowestoft by Allen, who added his name to the whole.

'A' mark. See Bow.

Anchor mark. See Chelsea, Bow, Derby, Davenport.

An hua ['secret'] decoration. Faint engraving or painting in white slip, visible only against the light; found especially on early Ming and eighteenth century white porcelain.

Arcanist. Workman knowing the secret of pottery making in general, and of porcelain making in particular.

Arcanum. Chemical composition and technique of porcelain making.

Arrowmark. See Worcester and Pinxton.

Art pottery. Also called studio ware. Much ornamental work in what Dr. Barber [writing in 1893] considered 'elegant decorative forms' appeared after the Centennial, 1876. Rookwood faïence [g.v.] was especially admired, also the wares of Chelsea Keramic Art Works [1872-89 at Chelsea, Massachusetts] developed by Hugh C. Robertson from 1891 as the Chelsea Pottery, from 1895 as Dedham Pottery. Art tiles [see Barber, pp. 343-84] flourished in the 1880s, notably John G. Low's from 1789 at Chelsea, Massachusetts.

Astbury. A family of Staffordshire potters. To John Astbury [1686-1743] were attributed [questionably] the first use of white clay washes and of calcined flint in earthenware manufacture. The name 'Astbury' is applied to red earthenware with applied white reliefs, and to small figures in white clay enlivened with touches of red clay and dabs of colour in the glaze. Both were probably also made by other potters. Wares marked 'Astbury' impressed were made by a later Astbury [after c. 1760].

'Astbury' type. Classification of Staffordshire pottery in which red and white clays are combined under a transparent lead glaze. Similar wares covered by a glaze splashed with metallic oxides are generally styled 'Astbury-Whieldon'.

Ballot box. A common name for a salt kit [q.v.].

Bamboo. The bamboo is found in China in wild and cultivated varieties, and from the Sung dynasty onwards it has probably been represented more frequently than any other plant-form. Many small vessels, like spouted wine-pots, were modelled as sections of the bamboo cane, especially in the stoneware of Yi-Hsing. It symbolizes longevity, and represents Buddha, with the prunus and pine representing Kung-fu Tz [Confucius] and Lao-Tz respectively.

Bamboo ware. A variety of stoneware, of a darker tint of brown than the caneware, introduced by Josiah Wedgwood in 1770.

Barm pot. Pot for storing barm or yeast [see also salt kit].

Basaltes. The name given by Josiah Wedgewood to his fine-quality stoneware introduced in 1766.

Bat. Chinese, fu, Japanese, Komori. The number of vocables in the Chinese language is far too small to give one to each idea, noun, or subject. This is overcome by the use of tones, which determine the meaning of a word. For example, said in one tone fu means bat, in another tone it means happiness. To give a porcelain bowl decorated with bats is to wish happiness to the recipient. Five bats represent the Five Blessings--longevity, wealth, serenity, virtue, and an easy death. This peculiarity of the Chinese language is the key to the symbolic meaning of a great deal of the decoration of porcelain. The bat in Japanese decoration has no such meaning, and has been copied from China.

Batavia. A trading station of the Dutch East India Company in Java [see Batavian ware].

Batavian ware, Porcelains with lustrous brown-glazed grounds and panels of famille rose decoration, named after the Dutch trading station in Java through which they reached Europe in the first half of the eighteenth century.

Battle for the Breeches'. Theme of popular imagery concerning marriage occurring on seventeenth century slipware and as a subject for nineteenth century spill vases. Possibly made by Obadiah Sherratt.

Baxter, Thomas [1782-1821]. Painter, worked independently [see Independent decorators], and at Worcester [1814-16 and 1819-21] and Swansea [1816-10]; painted figure subjects, landscapes, shells, flowers, etc.

Bear jug. Model in the form of a bear hugging a dog, illustrating the sport of bear baiting. The detachable head serves as a cup. Made in Staffordshire and Nottingham, eighteenth century.

Bellarmine. Big-bellied stoneware bottle with a bearded mask in relief, named after Cardinal Bellarmine [1542-1621]. Frequently cited in contemporary literature and used in magic and witchcraft. Also called 'Greybeards'.

Belleek. A light, fragile feldspathic porcelain cast in moulds, with lustrous pearly glaze. Invented c. 1860 by William Goss of Stoke, improved by William Bromley at the Irish factory of David McBirney & Co. [founded 1857 at Belleek, Co. Fermanagh], which by 1865 won a medal at the Dublin Exhibition. Produced at many American factories 1882-1900 and called lotusware by Knowles of East Liverpool.

Bellringers' jugs. Jugs for serving ale to bellringers, kept in the church tower, as at Macclesfield, or in the home of a ringer.

Belper [Derbyshire]. See Bourne & Co.

Bennington A name widely, and wrongly, applied to brown Rockingham wares in general. The Vermont town had two establishments, a lesser stoneware works of the Norton Family [1793-1894] and the enterprising factory of Christopher W. Fenton, 1845-58 [called the U.S. Pottery Co., from 1 853]. Fenton produced a diversity of wares, from common yellow and flint enamel [q.v.] to porcelains and Parian.

Berain, Jean [1637-1711]. French engraver and draughtsman. Dessinateur to Louis XIV. Creator of a style of ornament used on French faence and porcelain. Also his son, Jean II [1674-1728].

'BFB' mark, impressed. See Worcester.

Bianco-sopra-bianco. An opaque white pigment used for decorating a tin glaze of slightly contrasted colours.

Billingsley, William [1758-1828]. Porcelain painter and maker. Billingsley originated a style of flower painting with the highlights wiped out with the brush. Painted at Derby 1775-96, leaving to join Pinxton [q.v.] as technician; independent decorator at Mansfield c. 1800, painting landscapes; at Worcester 1808-13. In 1813 he started the Nantgarw factory, and in 1819 went to Coalport.

Bird call. Pottery whistle in the form of a bird. Sometimes built into old chimneys as a charm against evil spirits.

Bird fountain. Wall bracket with a projecting socket for water, made in blue-printed, lustred, or enameled earthenware, 18th and 19th centuries.

Biscuit. Unglazed porcelain or, more rarely, pottery, as a medium for statuettes and reliefs, used since the middle of the eighteenth c. under the influence of the classical revival. The material more nearly resembles marble than porcelain. Falconet created some of the earliest S*vres models, Melchior some of the later portraits, at Höchst, Frankenthal, and Nymphenburg. [See Derby, Bristol.]

Bisque. Unglazed or 'biscuit' porcelain.

Black. See Brown and Black glazes.

'Black basaltes' or Black Egyptian'. An unglazed line-grained black stoneware perfected by Wedgewood c. 1769 and much imitated elsewhere. Decorated with relief, gilding, or enamelling.

Black printing. 'A term for applying impressions to glazed vessels, whether the colours be black, red, or gold' [William Evans, 1846].

Blake, William. The artist, poet, and visionary, was [p. 481] employed to draw and engrave a catalogue of Wedgwood cream-coloured wares in the years 1815 and 1816. The engravings run to eighteen in number and illustrate 185 pieces of domestic china. Eight of the actual copper plates are still in existence, but have been altered since they left Blake's hand. Some correspondence between the artist and Josiah Wedgwood is printed by Geoffrey Keynes in Blake, Studies [1949]. Sixteen of the engravings are reproduced in W. Mankowitz's Wedgwood, Keynes gives two, one of which is not in Mankowitz's book.

Blanc-de-Chine. See T Hua porcelain.

Blue-and-white porcelain. Decoration with painting in cobalt blue under the glaze has continued ever since its introduction. It is both attractive and economical, requiring one firing only. Some fourteenth-century wares depict plants and animals within floral scroll borders. The classic fifteenth-c. Ming reigns of Hsüan-t and Ch' ng Hua produced perhaps the finest of all blue-and-white, with perfect forms, superb glaze, rich colour, and lively yet restrained painting of dragons and floral scrolls. A deep violet blue was used in the Chia Ching period, and sixteenth-c. painting is freely executed in 'outline and wash' technique. As well as the traditional subjects, ladies on garden terraces, playing boys, and animals in landscapes are now depicted. Much Ming porcelain now in European collections came from the New East or southeast Asia, to which it had been exported in many styles and qualities. From about 1600 the East India Companies imported into Europe thin porcelain plates and bowls with indented edges, painted with emblems and figures in wide paneled borders. The 'Transitional' period wares of the mid-17th c., e.g. cylindrical vases and bottles with tulip designs, bold landscapes and figure subjects, are often finely painted. The paste of K'ang Hsi period wares is fine and white, and for the best pieces a brilliant sapphire blue was used, applied in overlapping flat strokes as on the famous 'prunus jars', with sprays of plum blossom reserved in white. Decorative vases and 'useful' wares are extremely varied in shape and decoration. Landscapes and scenes from literature, with elegant ladies or huntsmen, are common, and a great variety of paneled, brocaded, and bordered designs with flowers [aster and tiger-lily patterns, lotus, chrysanthemum, etc.], as well as the traditional animals and emblems. Ming reign marks were often used; that of K'ang Hsi rarely. The Yung Chêng and Ch'ien Lung periods produced little besides revivals of early Ming styles, and export wares of declining quality. Later 18th-c. services made to European order ['Nankin china'] are rather coarse, with thick glazes, and crowded designs of the 'willow-pattern' type.

'Blue-dash chargers'. See English pottery.

Blue or lavender glazes. Especially fine porcelains with the high-temperature cobalt-blue glaze were made during the Ming reigns of Hsüan-t and Chia Ching: it was also used in coarser wares decorated with raised white slip designs, and in the 'three-colour' class. During the Ch'ing dynasty the colour was varied by dilution or addition of manganese purple to produce a variety of tones. K'ang Hsi deep-blue glazes are generally overpainted with gilt designs, or appear in conjunction with underglaze blue or red painting; they include the 'powder' blue [q.v.]. Several shades of lavender and pale blue, such as the clair-de-lune, were at their best under Yung Ch ng and Ch'ien Lung; when fine imitations of the crackled Sung Kuan and Ko wares were also made.

'B' mark. See Bow, Bristol [hard-paste porcelain], Worcester [Dr. Wall and Flight & Barr] and Pinxton.

Bocage. A background of flowers and leaves, usually on figures and groups intended for a frontal view only.

'Boccaro' ware. A misnomer for Yi-Hsing stoneware.

Body. The composite materials of which potter's clay is made - the ware itself, usually pottery or stoneware; for porcelains the word paste is preferred [as hard paste, soft paste].

Bone-ash or bone china. The white ashes of bones were used in Bow porcelain from 1748, and subsequently in the modified hard-paste porcelain which from c. 1800 became the standard English body.

Boulton, Matthew [1728-1809]. In partnership with John Fothergill [to 1781], and with John Watt, was a manufacturer of metalwork at Soho, Birmingham. He mounted Wedgwood cameos, etc., in cut steel and in gilt bronze. Writing to Bentley in 1768 Wedgwood said: "We have an order from Mr. Boulton for some bodys of vases for mounting, which I must either comply with or affront him, and set him a-trying to get them elsewhere . . ."

Bourne & Co. Stoneware potters at Belper [from c. 1800], Codnor Park [from 1833], and Denby [from 1812] in Derbyshire. Mark: 'Bourne'.

Bow [soft-paste porcelain]. The Bow factory, possibly active in 1744 [when E. Heylyn and Thomas Frye took out a patent], was certainly working before [p. 482] 1750. In 1748 Frye took out a second patent, the ingredients including bone ash; the resultant phosphoric acid in the paste is diagnostic. Frye remained manager until 1759. After 1763 the history of the factory is uncertain, but it is stated to have closed in 1775 or 1776, the moulds being removed to Derby. Bow specialized in useful wares, but many figures were also made. The porcelain is characterized by a creamy colour, a tendency to stain brown, and an occasional black specking. The early [c. 1750] white wares were often decorated by applied moulded springs. The colours on the earlier Bow porcelain [to c. 1765] include a characteristic rose purple and opaque light blue. Imitation Kakiemon and famille rose painting was much practiced; since much Bow porcelain, however, was outside-decorated [see Independent decorators], the painting is a fallible guide. Much porcelain painted in underglaze blue of a vivid, intense tone was made. Transfer printing, mainly in russet and purplish black, was employed c. 1756 [see Hancock]. Bow figures may often be distinguished by the modelling of the head, rather small and doll-like, with only slightly modelled chin and cheeks, and a retroussée nose. They are rather heavy, and often have a square hole cut behind for an ormolu embellishment. The characteristic rococo vase, from c. 1755, has four feet and in front a pendant scroll, all picked out in rose purple. Towards the end a palette including a pink and a watery green was adopted; the opaque blue enamel was replaced by a darker translucent colour. MARKS: 1-3 above c. 1750; CT, R, W, AF & D [incised], B, T, T, and 4 above [impressed] are probably repairers' marks of c. 1750-60; B, G, '13', various simulated Chinese characters [e.g. 6 above], and 5 above, in blue, occurs on blue-and-white porcelain c. 1755-65; various numerals and initials in enamel were used on useful wares; I, A, a crescent, two dots, and 7 above, in blue, and various forms of 8 above in brownish-red occur on late figures, etc., c. 1760-75.

Brampton [Derbyshire]. Brown stoneware pottery, second half of 18th and 19th c. MARKS: 'Oldfield & Co.', 'S. & H. Briddon'.

'Brinjal' bowls. Kang Hsi porcelain bowls with incised flower sprays coloured yellow and green on an aubergine- [Anglo-Indian: brinjal] purple ground, in glazes applied 'on the biscuit'.

Brislington. Delftware pottery from c. 1650 to 1750 [see Bristol, delftware].

Bristol [delftware]. A pottery at Brislington, near Bristol, was founded by Southwark potters c. 1650; it in turn colonized a factory in Bristol [Temple Pottery, 1683-1770, when delftware was abandoned]. Others were St. Mary Redcliffe's [c. 1700-77] and Limekiln Lane [c. 1700-54]. Early Bristol delftware is difficult to distinguish from Lambeth, and the latter from that of Liverpool. The glaze, however, often had a distinctive lavender-blue tone, and the early red [c. 1700 ] stands out in appreciable relief. The bianco-sopra-bianco borders usually include a cone motif and curved sprays of leaves. Characteristic Bristol shapes include a plate with straight sides forming an obtuse angle with the bottom; puzzle jugs with openwork necks formed by intersecting circles; flower 'bricks' pierced with a square hole at the top and mounted on small bracker feet, and [seventeenth-century] porringers having a circular handle with corrugations radiating from a central hole.

Bristol [hard-paste porcelain]. About 1770 the Plymouth factory moved to Bristol. In 1773 the factory and rights were bought by Richard Champion, and in 1781 sold to a combine of Staffordshire potters [see New Hall]. The Plymouth models were continued, and it is sometimes impossible to distinguish the work of the two factories. Both suffered from technical defects [see Plymouth], and Bristol thrown wares show in addition spiral marks known as 'wreathing'. Useful wares were, exceptionally, painted or printed in underglaze blue, or printed in overglaze enamel. The more normal enamelling was in perceptible relief; the colours included a characteristic 'juicy' red, clear yellow, and bright translucent green. The decoration reflected Sèvres styles. Figures were much made often with a rockwork base. 'Biscuit' presentation plaques, with applied flowers framing portraits, coats -of-arms, etc., were a specialty. MARKS: a cross or B [sometimes both], in greyish- [p. 483] blue enamel; crossed swords imitating Meissen, in underglaze blue or greyish-blue enamel, T impressed.

Bristol [soft-paste porcelain]. In 1749 a factory using soapstone as an ingredient was founded in Bristol. Until recently called 'Lowdin's', it is now known to have been started by William Miller and Benjamin Lund. In 1752 it was advertised as transferred to Worcester, and it is usually impossible to distinguish Bristol from the earliest Worcester porcelain. Certain sauceboats, however, and figures of a Chinaman, bear the mark BRISTOL[L] in relief, impressed. Underglaze blue [and occasionally manganese brown] and enamel painting were practised, usually in styles copying Chinese export porcelain. [See also 'Scratch cross' porcelain.] MARKS: See Worcester.

Brown and Black glazes. These colours derived from iron are among the high-temperature glazes of Sung stonewares [e.g. Chien ware]; and coffee-brown glazes occur on Ming porcelain. The lustrous glazes of the Ch'ing dynasty--the Chinese tz' chin ['brown gold']--range from pale caf*-au-lait to deep golden brown. 'Nankin yellow' is the pale golden brown added to some blue-and-white; the darker 'dead leaf brown' framing famille rose painted panels is Batavian ware; and caf-au-lait was sometimes overpainted in famille verte enamels. All appear also as monochromes. The superb glossy K'ang Hsi mirror black was generally enamelled with gilt designs. Produced by an admixture of manganese with iron, it should not be confused with the famille noire black [q.v.]. During the Yung Ch ng and Ch'ien Lung periods mottled or speckled brown glazes such as the 'iron rust' and 'tea dust' were favoured , and another class faithfully imitates the character and patina of archaic bronze and silver vessels. Crackled wares with transparent brownish glaze, often with stamped designs in unglazed relief, are principally nineteenth-century.

Bull baiting. Pottery groups showing a bull goring or tossing a dog, often upon table bases supported by six legs, popular c. 1830-5. Said to have been made by Obadiah Sherratt.

Bussa. Large earthenware pot commonly kept in old Cornish cottages for salting down pilchards.

Butter pot. Cylindrical earthenware vessel made to hold fourteen pounds of butter, made at Burslem in the 17th c. for use at Uttoxeter market. An act of 1661 regulated abuses in the manner of making and packing the pots.

'Cadogan' tea or hot-water pot. A copy of the Chinese peach-shaped wine jug, filled through an orifice in the base and constructed on the principle of a non-spillable inkwell. [See Rockingham].

Caf-au-lait. See Brown and black glazes.

Calligraphy. Chinese copying of European hand-writing was purely mechanical and, as may be expected , many mistakes occurred in the transcription of verses, mottoes, and inscriptions sent from the West. Letters were omitted or formed in o unpronounceable diagraphs, and the letter N was rendered frequently as [ *] . A typical mistake of another type was the careful copying of a coat-of-arms on each piece of a service, with the addition of the words These are the Arms of myself and my wife, which had been written on the pattern sent from England.

Cane-coloured ware. Unglazed fine-grained buff stoneware, sometimes decorated with blue, etc., enamels, made by Wedgwood, Turner, Elijah Mayer, etc., late eighteenth century.

Canton. The principal port on the coast of China for trade with Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries [see East India Company]. Porcelain was brought to Canton by river from Ching-t Ch n. From the middle years of the 18th c. increasing quantities of the porcelain were sent unpainted, and decoration was applied to order by artists in enamelling shops at the port. 'Canton' is the familiar name for a 19th c. Chinese porcelain exported to Europe. It bears a decoration of butterflies, flowers, etc., on a celadon-green ground.

Canton potteries. Chün-type wares reputedly made here from Sung times remain unidentified, but may include the soft-glazed, sandy-bodied Ma Chün. Certain wares with opaque, crackled grey, purple, and blue glazes are possibly as old as Ming. Stonewares with grey or brown bodies and various glazes, ranging from opaque grey or blue to the streaked flambés of purple, red, and green, continue till the present day. Very large jars, vases, etc., were made for outdoor use, sometimes with elaborate applied work, and numerous small animal figures serve as incense burners, water pots, etc. Enamelling workshops at Canton decorated porcelain in the famille rose style for export, as well as the 'Canton enamels' painted on copper.

Capacity mug. Cylndrical measure made in stoneware, earthenware, mocha ware, etc., from the 17th c. The presence of a royal cipher or an excise stamp provides a clue as to date.

Carpet balls. Used in the Victorian game of carpet bowls, made in brown stoneware or white earthenware coloured with starry, ringed, or flowery patterns. A set comprised six patterned and one white or self-coloured balls. Made in Scotland an Staffordshire. The Parr family of Burslem specialized in them.

Castleford [Yorkshire]. Pottery founded by David Dunderdale c. 1790, making creamware, black basaltes, and other characteristic Leeds and Staffordshire wares. Best known for unglazed relief-decorated white stoneware, usually called 'Castleford' but certainly also made elsewhere. Wares marked 'D. D. & Co., Castleford' are authentic productions: these do not include pieces with enamelled landscapes with blue-outlined panels.

Castle Hedingham. Pseudo-medieval and Tudor pottery was made here by Edward Bingham [b. 1829]. Sometimes mistaken for authentic fifteenth-, sixteenth-, and seventeenth-century wares.

Cats. Figures made in striped salt-glazed stoneware ['agateware'] and earthenware in the mid-eighteenth c. [Staffordshire]; also in Delftware. [p. 484]

Caughley [soft-paste porcelain]. This Shropshire factory did not make porcelain until acquired by Thomas Turner [previously at Worcester] in 1772. In 1799 it was amalgamated with Coalport. The wares were mainly blue-and-white, often printed in the Worcester manner [towards the end of the century often combined with gilding], but elaborate enamel painting, mostly of tightly packed flowers, was also done. Caughley porcelain resembles Worcester, but is brownish by transmitted light. Characteristic are two shades of blue, one markedly mauvish, the other greyish; a foot rim of approximately rectangular section; an incised circle beneath the foot. The porcelain was frequently outside-decorated. MARKS: S, C, a crescent, or 1-4 below, in blue; SALOPIAN, impressed.

'Cauliflower' ware. Green- and yellow-glazed earthenware, often in the form of cauliflowers, pineapples, etc., made by the Whieldon-Wedgwood partnership about 1750-70.

'CD' mark. See Coalport.


NOTE: References to MARKS may refer to illustrations of these marks which are not included in this document.
NOTE: * represents a configuration not available on the computer

[L. G. G. Ramsey, F.S.A., ed. The Complete Color Encyclopedia of Antiques. Preface by Bevis Hillier, Editor of The Connoisseur. Compiled by The Connoisseur, London. New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc. 1962. Revised and Expanded Edition.]



The contents of this site, including all images and text, are for personal, educational, non-commercial use only. The contents of this site may not be reproduced in any form without proper reference to Text, Author, Publisher, and Date of Publication [and page #s when suitable].