A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Repair Case Study

I recently came across the Web site of a wonderful English majolica restorer, Edge Conservation-Restoration Services in Liverpool, England.
Featured on their site is their restoration of a Holdcroft sugar bowl.

 The first step in the repair is the removal of the old repair.

The pieces are separated and all the old glue removed.
The piece is reglued using an acrylic resin.
Missing pieces were recreated using a polyfill or Plaster of Paris. Missing glaze was mimicked with a colored epoxy paste.
Retouching with dry pigments and a water borne ceramic glaze finish the process. The entire piece is covered with a protective plastic polish.

Here is the finished piece.

This is really extraordinary work!

If you would like to learn more about their services or wish to contact them about your own restoration project, visit their Web site: http://www.edgeconservation-restoration.com/File/category.asp?id=2

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Majolica Spotlight: Vine and Strawberry Plates

One of the most commonly available majolica plate designs is the Vine and Strawberry plate. I don't know who did the original design. I remember reading once that it was a Copeland design but I've never really seen any confirmation of that. I'm really not sure why it's called Vine and Strawberry either which is the name in the Wedgwood pattern books. "Grape and Strawberry" or "Leaf and Strawberry" would make more sense to me but then they never asked my opinion.

Certainly the most famous examples are from the afour mentioned Wedgwood. They made it in a number of different shapes and servers and a wide variety of color combinations including the Argenta color palette popular during the 1870's.

It's a pattern they've been making almost continuously from the late 1800's until recently, in every pottery type from majolica to yellowware to drabware to bone china. In the post-war 1940's they reintroduced a majolica line with a distinctive yellow ground that has proven to be just as popular as the Victorian original.

I have a set of these in white bone china that I bought new twenty years ago and have used regularly ever since. Wedgwood even created a matching line of bone dinnerware called Strawberry and Vine that has proven popular on it's own.

But Wedgwood was not alone in making this pattern. It was one of the most commonly copied patterns made in majolica. Gustafsberg, Davenport, Edge Malkin Co., and Brownfield made beautiful examples that match the finest of Wedgwood's examples.

There were also numerous smaller potteries both in the US and Britain that made their own
examples of the plate.

Today it is found in green glaze most frequently having been made in large quantities in that color by Wedgwood, Edge Malkin Co. and Davenport.

In all of its incarnations, it's a great design that has proven it's durability and one that deserves a place in the pantheon of great majolica patterns.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas Majolica

Christmas was a lavish setting for Victorians but there are surprisingly not that many pieces of majolica specifically designed for Christmas use.

The most famous to my mind would be the George Jones Punch bowl. With its holly and berries surrounding the bowl, it is held up by the most famous children's puppet of all, Punch!

Minton made a chargers for Christmas use, both festive enough for the most grand Christmas pudding!

George Jones made a wonderful pitcher with old St. Nick at the spout and Minton made a lively Christmas pitcher festooned with holly.

Minton as well as other British potteries made covered servers with holly decoration that would be appropriate for the Christmas table.

Holdcroft game terrine
Minton majolica game terrine
George Jones also made several other dishes with holly decoration that would also be appropriate for a Christmas gathering.

Of course other potteries made holly decorated items as well.

Royal Worcester majolica charger
It's somewhat surprising that one of the most desirable pieces with a Christmas theme was made by an American company, Eureka. Their famous "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" plate is as famous as it is elusive. Heavily reproduced, finding an original to buy is a once or twice in a lifetime opportunity. Maybe you'll find one under your Christmas tree this year!

Eureka majolica holiday plateau
Eureka majolica holiday plate

From us here at Glazed and Confused we wish you all the happiest holiday ever!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

French Dessert Plates

I've always wondered why French dessert plates aren't more popular with collectors than they are.

Perhaps its the pastel colors. Majolica collectors seek out intensely colored pieces in general so it would make sense that pastels would not be as popular.

Perhaps it's the design sensibility. French plates are undeniably French looking. They have a light feminine quality, often with art nouveau lines. More often than not they are heavily decorated with lush florals but occasionally you will find animals or people. It's very easy to imagine the novelist Colette lunching on them as she pens Gigi.

These are plates that comfortably fit in the world of Cocteau, Piaf and Chevalier.

French plates are easily found and inexpensive with most of them selling under $100. They are a wonderful way to add color and a bit of French sophistication to your table or wall.