Thursday, April 5, 2012

18th Century China That is Still Made Today

Richard Collins' A Family of Three at Tea, 1727

After the grandeur of Royal Copenhagen's Flora Danica and it's royal Ice Bell, I thought I would take a look at china one might find in an average fashionable home of the 18th century. Blue and white porcelain, along with creamware, were some of the post popular styles for household china, in both Europe and the United States during this time, and both remained popular well into the 19th century. The patterns and companies featured below, I chose because one can still purchase pieces in these patterns today, and most are still being made by the original companies who produced the china in the 1700's. To me, very cool.

Blue and White China

Blue and white china became hugely popular in the 18th century, along with other chinoiserie. Starting in the 17th century, specific blue and white patterns started to be made in China as an export for the European market. European companies also started making blue and white patterns. Meissen's Blue Onion pattern and Delftware are good examples of this. Staffordshire, in England, is also known for their blue and white porcelain. The style was popular well into the 19th century, and is still widely reproduced today. Some patterns that are very true to their 18th century originals are Mottahedeh's Blue Canton and Myott/Staffordshire Blue Willow, also called willow ware. Willow ware is said to tell a love story through it's images.

"So she tells me a legend centuries old
Of a Mandarin rich in lands and gold,
Of Koong-Shee fair and Chang the good,
Who loved each other as lovers should.
How they hid in the gardener's hut awhile,
Then fled away to the beautiful isle.
Though a cruel father pursued them there,
And would have killed the hopeless pair,
But kindly power, by pity stirred,
Changed each into a beautiful bird.
Here is the orange tree where they talked,
Here they are running away,
And over all at the top you see,
The birds making love alway(s)."
(from Antique Pottery: Blue Willow, by Wayne Maddox)

Myott/Staffordshire Blue Willow
Replacements, Ltd.

Mottahedeh Blue Canton

Meissen (Blue Onion)

De Porceleyne Fles (The Porcelain Jar) aka Royal Delft

Creamware, Queensware and Pearlware

Circa 1750, creamware was developed by Staffordshire potters as a replacement for chinese porcelain. Durable, but not fine, it was a good domestic china. In 1779, after a comment from Lady Dartmouth, that she and her friends were tired of the cream, Josiah Wedgwood created pearlware, which had a more blue/white tint. Pearlware was much like "china glaze," which potters had been making for about five years before Wedgwood's pearl. Creamware was also made in Leeds, most notably by Hartley Greens & Co., which became competition to Wedgwood. Leeds creamware is distinct because of its pierced work and green enameling. By 1790, Bristol and Liverpool also produced creamware.

Wedgwood Queens Plain

Hartley Greens & Co. Pierced Tea Pot
(also available through Williamsburg Marketplace)

Hartley Greens & Co. Pierced Chestnut Bowl

Wedgwood Pearlware Dish
Cathcart's Antiques

Mottahedeh Creamware

Creamware for Royals? When creamware pottery was shown to Queen Charlotte, she liked it so much that she allowed it to be called Queensware. In 1775, Catherine II (Catherine the Great) of Russia had a 952 piece set made for her by Wedgwood.

Catherine II of Russia
by Johann Baptist von Lampi the Elder.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Queen Charlotte by Sir Joshua Reynolds
Private Collection


  1. That was fascinating! I just LOVE the Mottahedeh Creamware plate!And, the poem was charming!
    I think I have a couple of the "Blue Willow" plates. I will appreciate them a bit more now!

  2. Isn't that a cute little story they tell! Love it! I'm adding Wedgwood and Mottahedeh creamware to my list of teacups to buy. And blue onion. Zwiebelmuster -- YA! :)

  3. I have a collection of the queensware!

    1. Ooo yay! Creamware is beautiful! So simple and pretty. I am not lucky enough to have any yet. Someday!