Derby.–Porcelain of some kind was probably made at Derby not much later
than the date of the first establishment of Frye’s works at Bow. Mr.
Bemrose quotes entries from the work-book of Duesbury, which show that
during the years 1751-53 he was busy enamelling the products not only of
the ‘Chellsea and Bogh’ kilns, but that, although resident in London, he
received work from Derby also. Indeed the price, eight shillings, that
he got for enamelling ‘one pair of Darby figars large,’ is higher than
his usual charge for painting the Chelsea statuettes (_Bow, Chelsea, and
Derby Porcelain_).[232]

William Duesbury was a Staffordshire man. As early as the year 1742,
when he was only seventeen, he was working in London as an enameller for
weekly wages. This we know from his work-book, which has been preserved.
It would be interesting to know what it was that he enamelled at this
early date. From the same book we learn that in the years 1751-53 he was
in London decorating china figures for the most part. These he
distinguishes as Bow, or Bogh, Chellsea, Darby, and Staffordshire. In
1752 he paid a bill of £6, 19s. for colours, although at that time
little gold was used by him. Among other entries in his work-book at
this period we find the following note: ‘How to color the group, a
gentleman Busing a Lady–gentlm a gold trimd cote, a pink wastcot
crimson and trimd with gold and black breeches and socs, the lade a
flourd sack with yellow robings, a black stomegar, her hare black, his
wig powdrd.’ Each piece that he coloured is carefully noted, and the
price that he obtained given. For instance, ‘pair of le Dresden figars,’
‘Chellsea Nurs,’ ‘a pair of Baccosses,’ ‘a hartychoake.’[233] We have
already referred to Duesbury’s connection with Littler’s works,–we may
note that his father was living at Longton Hall at this time.

In December 1756 there was a sale in London, by order of the ‘Derby
Porcelain Manufactory,’ of figures, services, etc., ‘after the finest
Dresden models.’ For some time the ‘Derby China Company’ sold their
goods through their factor at ‘Oliver Cromwell’s Drawing-Room’ near the
Admiralty. It would seem that in 1756 Duesbury entered into some kind of
partnership, at Derby, with Heath and Planché, the first a banker and
proprietor of pottery-works at Cockpit Hill, and the latter a
‘china-maker,’ of whom various more or less apocryphal stories are told.
All we can safely say is that Planché had probably been working for some
time at Derby as a modeller of figures.

In the year 1758 the Derby works were enlarged and the number of workmen
doubled, and this change has been coupled with the closing of Littler’s
factory at Longton Hall about the same time. But from this date to the
year 1769, all that we know of the Derby factory is derived from a few
advertisements in London papers. It is indeed a very remarkable fact
that, in spite of the most persevering researches–for how thoroughly
the ground has been gleaned we can judge by looking through the
elaborate works of Haslem, Bemrose, and the late Mr. Nightingale–we can
hardly point to a single specimen of porcelain made at Derby before the
year 1770, nor do we know of any mark that can be assigned to an earlier
period than this. Can it be that up to this time the works were chiefly
occupied in copying the wares, and perhaps the marks, not only of
Dresden, but also of Chelsea and Bow?

When the Chelsea factory and its contents were sold in 1769, it was
Duesbury, and not the Derby China Company, who was the purchaser. After
the year 1775, when the Bow works were also purchased, he had, with the
exception of the Worcester manufactory, practically no rival in the

We may take the year 1770 as the turning-point in the history of English
porcelain. In France, by this time, the rococo of Louis XV.’s reign was
already giving way to the simpler, and in part more classical, forms
that distinguish the next reign, for it is common knowledge that the
style known as Louis XVI. came into vogue several years before the
accession of that king. In England the change can be best traced in the
work of the silversmith, seeing that in such work there can be no
uncertainty as to the date. Already, before the end of the sixties, we
find in the silver plate then made outlines formed of simple curves and
even straight lines replacing the troubled rococo scrolls, and by the
year 1770 the new classical forms have carried the whole field. And in
like manner the china made by Duesbury, both at Chelsea and Derby,
follows the new fashion.

But the vases bearing the Chelsea-Derby mark of an anchor crossing the
down-stroke of the letter D (PL. E. 73) differ from those made by
Sprimont not only in outline. A new scheme of decoration has come in,
one that continued with no radical change for the next fifty years and
more. Let us take the Chelsea-Derby vase in the Jones collection–it
stands in company with several others of the Sprimont rococo type.
Notice the oblique fluted mouldings of the upper part (a _motif_ taken
directly from the silversmith), which are accentuated by deep blue and
gold lines on a white ground (this is a scheme of decoration above all
characteristic of Derby china). The reserved panels on the body of the
vase are painted with pastoral subjects. Here there is little change,
but around these panels the ground is completely covered with flowers of
various kinds–each species can be made out, but full-blown double roses
predominate. These full-blown roses are a note that distinguishes
English porcelain from this time onwards. As they become larger, and
occupy a more prominent place, the painting loses all trace of
decorative feeling. Billingsley carried them in his wanderings to all
the porcelain factories of England, and we are finally landed in the
monstrosities of Rockingham and the insipidities of Nantgarw.

One point we have omitted to mention in our description of the
Chelsea-Derby vase at South Kensington. The handles, winged figures
somewhat classically treated, are of unglazed ware. This is an example
of the famous Derby biscuit, or bisque, as it is sometimes called, which
we now know was made as early as 1771. The greatest care was taken in
the preparation of this biscuit ware; any piece with the slightest
defect was rejected. The material allows of a sharpness and high finish
which would be lost in the thick covering of the glazed ware. The paste
in many of the examples has acquired a somewhat shiny surface, as if
covered with a skin of glaze. The best known specimens date from the
last years of the century, when Spengler, a modeller from Zurich, was
engaged by the second Duesbury. In them we see exemplified that mixture
of the sentimental and the pseudo-classical so much admired at this
time. The shepherd with his dog (there is an example at South
Kensington) is taken from a Roman relief, the head perhaps from an
Antinous. The shepherdess has been reading Richardson, if not Jean
Jacques, and they both take life very seriously.

We find, however, the Chelsea-Derby mark on enamelled figures that
differ little from the earlier and more frivolous type. These survivals,
as it were, of the rococo school stand no longer upon a scroll pediment,
but on a rocky ground, amid careful reproductions of natural objects,
stumps of trees, shells, or what not. The colours, too, have become
somewhat stronger; the pale, greenish blue of the earlier pieces is
replaced by a fuller turquoise hue.

It was at this time, or a little later, that the process of ‘casting’
was introduced for these statuettes. This was a process of English
origin, though it is now extensively used at Sèvres and elsewhere
abroad. We have described the various modifications of this plan in a
previous chapter (p. 25). In the case of these statuettes, the figure is
first modelled in tough clay; the head and limbs are then cut off. A
plaster-of-Paris mould is then made of each of the separate parts, a
cream-like slip is poured into the mould and quickly poured out before
all the water is absorbed, a layer of the paste remaining on the sides
of the mould. This layer is detached when sufficiently dry; the pieces
are then joined together by means of the same slip, and the outline of
the figure sharpened with a modelling tool.[234] Porcelain made by this
casting process is not so dense as that made on the old system; its
specific gravity is appreciably lower. The moulding or repairing knife
may be, to some extent, replaced by the use of a brush, but a less sharp
outline is obtained in this case. In the furnace these figures have to
be supported by an elaborate scaffolding of props, and the shrinkage of
the clay during the firing is another source of difficulty.

In the British Museum may be seen a garniture of vases, of a type very
characteristic of the early Chelsea-Derby time. A pale turquoise ground
is overlaid with white flowers in low relief. This is but a modification
of the German _schnee-ball_ decoration. Somewhat later the _pâte tendre_
of Sèvres is evidently taken as a model, as in the _cabaret_ which was
given by Queen Charlotte to one of her maids of honour. This ‘equipage,’
to give it its English name, has also found its way into our national
collection. It has the rare jonquil ground with a border of blue and

For smaller objects, for cups, saucers, and plates, a simpler style of
decoration is in favour. The wreaths of little blue flowers,
forget-me-nots, and corn-flowers (the French _barbeau_), relieved with
touches of green and gold, remind one of the similar ware made at
Sèvres, and more especially at some of the smaller Parisian factories
during the early years of Louis XVI.

The elaborately decorated ‘old Japan’ was much copied at Derby, but so
unintelligently that the patterns degenerated into meaningless forms,
known as ‘rock Japan,’ ‘witches Japan,’ and even ‘Grecian Japan’! This
was the beginning of a barbarous style of decoration, in vogue in the
Staffordshire potteries at a later time both for porcelain and
earthenware, in which scattered members of the original scheme are
jumbled together at the whim of the ignorant painter.[235]

The subsequent vicissitudes of the Derby factory may be traced in the
marks in use at successive dates. The combined anchor and D was
apparently employed at Chelsea as long as the factory existed, but at
Derby a crown with jewelled bows was introduced in 1773 (PL. E. 75),
perhaps on the occasion of some _velléité_ of royal patronage, although
we have no definite evidence of anything of the kind.[236]

Somewhat later we find two batons crossed, with three dots in each angle
(similar to the ‘billiard’ mark on some Dutch porcelain) inserted on
Derby porcelain between the crown and the letter D (PL. E. 74).

William Duesbury died in 1786. His son, the second William, shortly
before his death in 1796, took into partnership Michael Kean, a
miniature-painter, and now a K was combined with the D on the mark. In
1813 the factory was leased to Robert Bloor by the third William
Duesbury, and after that time we hear no more of that family in
connection with Derby. Bloor conducted the works on ‘business
principles’ until his death in 1846. If for nothing else, his name
should be remembered in connection with a wonderfully brilliant claret,
or _rouge d’or_, that he succeeded in making. There is a vase with this
ground in the Jermyn Street collection which has excited the admiration
of foreign experts. Bloor used the old mark, in red, up to 1831 at
least. Before that time, however, the crown had lost the jewels upon its
bows. At this period china-clay and china-stone were more and more used,
and the porcelain became harder and somewhat opaque. As a consequence
of the higher melting, or rather softening, points of both body and
glaze, the enamels lost something of their brilliancy and lustre.

The present porcelain factory at Derby cannot strictly be regarded as a
direct descendant of the old works on the Nottingham Road, whose career
came to an end after Bloor’s death in 1846.

WORCESTER.–We have seen how William Duesbury, an obscure and illiterate
painter of china images from the Staffordshire potteries, had after the
absorption of the factories of Chelsea and Bow (as well probably as that
established by Littler in Duesbury’s own country) become a kind of china

There was one factory, however, skilfully managed and established on a
firm financial basis which remained entirely independent of him. Of the
origin of this factory–the Worcester China Works–we have, quite
exceptionally, a full record. These works, we may add, are also
exceptional in another respect–they have had a continuous history from
the year of their foundation to the present day, that is to say for more
than a century and a half. Mr. R. W. Binns has in his possession a copy
of the articles of association ‘for carrying on the Worcester Tonquin
manufacture.’[237] They are dated January 4, 1751. The forty-five shares
of £100 each were divided among fifteen original partners, of whom two
claim to possess the secret, art, mystery, and process of making
porcelain. These two were John Wall, doctor of medicine, and William
Davis, apothecary. We have no record of the preliminary experiments said
to have been made by these two men in a laboratory over the apothecary’s
shop, nor do we know for how long these experiments had been carried
on. Two workmen, however, who had already been employed by them for some
time, were retained by the new company and well paid as an inducement to
keep secret the process of manufacture. It was the apothecary Davis,
probably, who brought the scientific knowledge, but Dr. Wall also,
besides being a portrait-painter who had acquired some renown at Oxford
and in his native town (he had made designs for painted glass among
other things), was an energetic, practical man with some scientific
pretensions; nor must we forget the two workmen, who probably had a good
deal to say in the matter.

A site for the new factory was found in Warmstry House, a fine old
mansion that had belonged to the Windsor family, situated some hundred
yards to the north of the cathedral, and the kilns were erected in the
grounds which sloped down to the river. The biscuit kiln and the
glazing-kiln were enclosed in long roofed buildings apparently without
conspicuous chimneys. Only the great kiln for the ‘segurs’ takes the
conical shape that we associate with pottery-ovens.[238] The pressing,
modelling, and throwing galleries were established in the old house
itself, where there was also a ‘secret room.’

The little that we know of the composition of the paste, or rather
pastes, for there were two or more varieties used for the fine and
common ware respectively, is derived from a paper (now in the possession
of Mr. Binns) drawn up in 1764 by Richard Holdship, one of the original
partners. In that year Holdship (he was an engraver who had been
associated with the introduction of the transfer process) became
bankrupt, and now entered the service of Duesbury and Heath at Derby.
From this paper we learn that the ordinary paste used at Worcester
contained about two-thirds of a glassy material (a mixture of
flint-glass, crown-glass, and a specially prepared frit), and one-third
of a soapy rock, that is to say of a steatite, from Cornwall. The
composition of the glaze is interesting:–it contained, besides the
usual constituents, 14 per cent. of ‘foreign china,’ 2½ per cent. of
‘tin-ashes,’ and 0·3 per cent. of smalt. We should add that on the whole
the glaze of Worcester china is somewhat harder than that of other
English soft-paste wares. Along with this recipe is ‘a process for
making porcelain ware, without soapy rock or glass, in imitation of
Nanquin, being an opaque body.’ This ‘Nanquin’ ware was made by mixing
bone-ash with an equal weight of a very silicious frit: to the mixture 8
per cent. of Barnstaple clay and a small quantity of smalt were added.

We learn from other sources (_e.g._ Borlase’s _History of Cornwall_,
1758) that the agents of the Worcester company were busy searching for
and purchasing steatite rock, especially at Mullion, in the Lizard

Of the porcelain produced during the first sixteen years of the
Worcester factory we know a little more than of that of the
corresponding time at Derby. This was an eclectic period: the wares (and
the marks also) of Chantilly, Meissen, and Chelsea were copied. It was
the Oriental models, however, that were most in favour, especially the
blue and white of China, small pieces of which were imitated with some
success. For the enamelled ware, the brocaded Imari, our ‘old Japan,’
rather than the older Kakiyemon ware, served as a type. At this time,
too, a strange attempt was made to copy the marks of the Chinese
porcelain. We can trace, sometimes, the well-known characters of the
Ming dynasty (‘great’ and ‘bright’) (PL. E. 76). In other cases Arabic
numerals are arranged so as roughly to resemble a Chinese character. The
idea was probably taken from old Delft ware on which similar marks are
found, as also occasionally on Bow and on some Salopian porcelain.
Again, we find a degenerate seal character, perhaps derived from the
popular Japanese mark _Fu_ (happiness), taking a form something like the
design of a Union Jack (PL. E. 78). The decoration of the Chinese
_famille rouge_ was also copied–we find it, for example, on the edges
of little white cups and bowls with basket-work designs in low relief,
of which there are some specimens at South Kensington.

To an early period, also, belongs the ware decorated in black (or less
often in lilac), with figures and landscapes, ‘transferred’ by a variety
of ingenious processes, which we need not describe here, from an
engraved copper-plate. Used before this time on enamels at Battersea and
on earthenware at Liverpool, it was with the ‘jet enamelled’ ware of
Worcester, printed from the plates specially made for the purpose by
Robert Hancock (who had previously been employed at Battersea under the
Frenchman Ravenet), that the new process was above all associated. Here,
for the first time perhaps in its history, porcelain was ‘made to
speak,’ to use Napoleon’s phrase. On it the hero of the day was
immortalised: in 1757 we find Frederick the Great, crowned by a winged
Genius; at a later time the Marquis of Granby and the elder Pitt. It is
Hancock, it would seem, that we must regard as the _capo scuola_ of
another ‘school of decoration,’ one which, spreading at a later time to
Staffordshire, has been carried to all parts of the world where
transfer-printed English crockery has penetrated. The basis of this
decoration is a classical ruin–generally a fragment of the entablature
of a Roman temple supported on a few columns; add to this a pointed
building something between an obelisk and a pyramid,[240] the whole
enclosed in a framework of conventional trees. Upon how many millions of
jugs and basins was this pattern repeated, in black, in green, and in
lilac! At some future day, by the study of potsherds so decorated
collected in many lands, an archæologist may be able to trace the course
of English commerce in the nineteenth century, and to draw strange
inferences as to the state of the arts at that time in our country.

This ‘jet-enamelled’ transfer was printed over the glaze; sometimes, to
enliven the effect, other colours, painted by hand, were added, with
disastrous results. In the blue and white printed ware, on the other
hand, the cobalt pigment is applied under the glaze. The paste of this
transfer-printed porcelain is often of good quality and very
translucent, and the finer earlier specimens are much sought after by
collectors. We have seen that at least from the _cultur-historisch_
point of view this printed china is not without interest.

After 1763 Sprimont’s factory at Chelsea was only working at irregular
intervals. Some time later, about 1768, many of the enamel-painters
migrated to Worcester, where capable artists seem to have been in great
demand. It is usual to attribute to this migration a new scheme of
decoration that came into vogue at Worcester in the seventies. This was
the period of the vases with deep blue grounds and panels brilliantly
painted with flowers and bright-plumaged tropical birds. The _bleu du
roi_ ground (we must remember that, like the similar grounds at Chelsea
and Longport, this pigment was painted _sous couverte_) is often
covered with the salmon-scales in a deeper tint so characteristic of the
period; at other times it is replaced by a _poudré_ blue. The hand of
the Chelsea artist is to be recognised in the decoration of the panels,
but the vases are generally of simple contours, often octagonal and, on
the whole, following Chinese shapes. It is this richly decorated ware,
produced especially between 1770 and 1780, which now commands such
extravagant prices in the London market.

On the other hand, the new classical forms already in favour at Derby
and in France were not as yet adopted at Worcester–they came in later,
and then in a more debased form. In fact, the special mark of this, the
finest period in these works, is the application of a rich style of
painting that we generally associate with rococo shapes, to vases which
otherwise retain the form and decoration of their Chinese prototypes.
Somewhat later, from Sèvres, no doubt, came the canary yellow, generally
poor in tone and of uneven strength. The simple floral wreaths of the
Louis XVI. period are here represented by the pretty ‘trellis’ design,
green festoons hanging from reddish poles (PL. XLVI.).

Much of the Worcester porcelain was from an early time decorated in
London. In 1768 we find Mr. J. Giles (no doubt the ‘Mr. Gyles of Kentish
Town’ to whose kiln Thomas Craft took his famous punch-bowl to be
‘burnt’ at a charge of 3s.) described in an advertisement as ‘china and
enamel painter, proprietor of the Worcester Porcelain Warehouse, up one
pair of stairs in Cockspur Street.’ Here the nobility and gentry may
find ‘articles useful and ornamental curiously painted in the Dresden,
Chelsea, and Chinese taste.’

At a later time the Baxter family occupied much the same position as
Giles. The elder Baxter had

[Illustration: _PLATE XLVI._ WORCESTER]

workshops at Goldsmith Street, Gough Square,[241] and here white
porcelain from many sources was decorated. There is a curious
water-colour drawing, representing the interior of this workshop, at
South Kensington. It is the work of the younger Baxter, famous in his
day as a painter on porcelain. The pale, anæmic faces of the
artists–one of them wears a large pair of spectacles–crouching over
their work in a narrow, crowded room, may be taken as evidence that this
occupation was injurious both to the eyesight and to the general health

To return to the general history of the Worcester factory. In 1770 we
hear of a strike among the painters, who were alarmed at the spread of
the underglaze printing process. The movement was not unconnected,
probably, with the introduction of new blood from Chelsea. In 1772 there
was a general shuffling-up and reorganisation of the company, with the
result that Dr. Wall and the two Davises, father and son, finally gained
possession of nearly all the shares. But the doctor died in 1776, and
seven years later the whole concern was sold to Mr. Flight, a London
jeweller, who had previously acted as agent for the company. At the same
time Chamberlain, an original apprentice, and a man who had taken a
leading part of late in the artistic management, seceded from the
company, and, with his son, set up an independent manufactory.

After the visit of George III. to the works in 1788, the factory became
‘Royal,’ and this is, perhaps, the nearest approach to a royal patronage
that we can find in the history of English porcelain. In time the
Chamberlain offshoot came to flourish more than the original stock, and
finally, in 1840, the older firm, then known as ‘Flight and Barr,’ was
absorbed by it. Towards the end of the eighteenth century many
magnificent services of china were made for the royal family, painted
with finished pictures in the style admired at the time. The porcelain
was again ‘made to speak.’ In answer to the Napoleonic victories figured
on the ware of Sèvres, we in England painted naval emblems and portraits
of Lord Nelson on our plates and dishes.

The joint-stock company which now owns the Worcester factory was founded
in 1862. Since that time great efforts have been made to keep on a level
with the artistic movements of the day. Much attention has been paid to
the modelling of the handles, the stands and the covers of the vases, so
that some of them are works of art by themselves. The porcelain has been
designed and decorated in ‘the style of the Italian renaissance,’ in the
‘French style,’ then for a time a Japanese influence prevailed, to be
followed by vases in ‘Persian style,’ and then back to the ‘Florentine
renaissance’ once more. But running through the whole, we may perhaps
trace a _soupçon_ of the French art of the later nineteenth century.

Apart from the imitative marks of the early period which we have already
mentioned, we find at an early date the letter W, either for Wall or
Worcester (so the D of the rival works may stand either for Derby or
Duesbury). Another early mark, borrowed probably from Frye and the Bow
works, is the T. F. monogram which occurs on some underglaze blue and
white pieces. The crescent (PL. E. 77), used up to 1793, is chiefly
found on ware decorated with transfer printing: when this printing is in
blue under the glaze, a solid or ruled crescent is found. The later
firms, as ‘Flight and Barr’ and ‘Chamberlain,’ print their names in
full. A number of small marks found on Worcester china–more than
seventy have been noted–were added in most cases to identify the
painters and gilders.


This will be the most convenient place to say something of a small group
of factories where china was made towards the end of the eighteenth
century. It is a distinctly West of England family, owing its origin in
a measure to Worcester, but also forming a link between that factory and
the Staffordshire works. We include in it the Shropshire porcelains of
Caughley and Coalbrookdale, together with Swansea and Nantgarw.

CAUGHLEY.–The ‘Salopian Porcelain Works’ were started in 1772 at
Caughley, near Broseley, in Shropshire, a neighbourhood long famous for
its earthenware. It was here that Thomas Turner, a man of some social
standing who came from Worcester, devoted himself more especially to
printing in blue under the glaze. It was at Caughley, it would seem,
about 1780, that the famous ‘willow pattern’ was first used. There is in
the British Museum a curious little oblong dish that shows this design
in an undeveloped form. Turner, it is said, first printed complete
dinner-services, in dark blue, with this pattern. Not long after this he
went to France, and brought back a batch of French painters, whose
influence may perhaps be seen in the ware made at a later time at
Coalport. Some of the printed work is delicately executed, and when the
decoration is judiciously heightened with a little gilding, the effect
is not unpleasing. We hear also of dinner-services painted with
‘Chantille sprigs,’ and Turner also supplied Chamberlain with plain
white ware to be subsequently decorated at Worcester. At a later time
much gilding was applied to a richly decorated porcelain. Some of this
ware is stamped with the word ‘Salopian,’ other pieces have the letters
S or C printed or painted under the glaze; but both Dresden and even
Worcester marks were also used. Two men, at a later time representatives
of the industrial phase of porcelain, John Rose and Thomas Minton, were
trained in these short-lived works.

COALPORT OR COALBROOKDALE.–Here, on the left bank of the Severn, nearly
opposite the last-named factory, John Rose began making porcelain soon
after 1780. In 1799 he purchased from Turner (whose apprentice he had
been) the Caughley works, and in 1814 he removed the whole plant to
Coalbrookdale. Here, too, came Billingsley after the closing of the
Nantgarw works, and here he worked till his death in 1828. During the
first half of the nineteenth century the firm of John Rose and Company
was a successful rival to the Davenports, Mintons, and Copelands. Rose
excelled in the production of gorgeous vases decorated with picture
panels, and Billingsley kept up the supply of his English roses. The
older wares of Sèvres and Chelsea were copied not unsuccessfully, and
the appropriate mark was not omitted. The firm seems to have above all
prided itself upon the beauty of its _rose Pompadour_ grounds, and at a
later time, after 1850, both this ground and the turquoise blue were
largely applied to the pseudo-Sèvres porcelain that found its way to the
London china-shops. In 1820 Rose was granted a medal by the Society of
Arts for a leadless glaze, compounded of felspar and borax. The factory
at Coalport continues to produce much china on the same lines.

Near at hand, at Madeley, some very close imitations of the old Sèvres
were made by Randall between 1830 and 1840. For the origin of this
English Sèvres we must go back to the year 1813, when we hear of the
agents of London dealers buying up white and slightly decorated Sèvres
soft paste. Any enamel colour on them was removed by hydrofluoric acid,
and the surface was richly decorated in the Pompadour style. Randall
soon after this time was engaged with similar work in London: his
turquoise blues are especially praised.

[Illustration: Plate XLVII

_Water-colour Drawing. Enamel Painters at work._]

SWANSEA AND NANTGARW.–At the beginning of the nineteenth century some
works at Swansea, where a so-called ‘opaque porcelain’ had been lately
manufactured, were purchased by Mr. Lewis W. Dillwyn. Mr. Dillwyn was a
keen naturalist: he induced Mr. Young, a draughtsman who had been
employed by him in illustrating works on natural history, to learn the
art of enamel-painting on porcelain. Young devoted himself to painting
birds, shells, and above all butterflies. In spite of the aim at
scientific accuracy, the artistic effect of these delicately painted
butterflies, scattered here and there over the dead white paste, is not
unpleasant. There were some good specimens of this form of decoration in
the old Jermyn Street collection, but most of them, I think, are not
painted on a true porcelain.

Meantime, at Nantgarw (_Anglicè_ Nantgarrow), some ten miles north of
Cardiff, a small porcelain factory had been established by one William
Beely and his son-in-law, Samuel Walker.

Mr. Dillwyn, who visited the Nantgarw works in 1814, at the instigation
of his friend Sir Joseph Banks, found these two men making an admirable
soft-paste porcelain, remarkable for its translucency. ‘I agreed with
them,’ so Mr. Dillwyn reported, ‘for a removal to the Cambrian pottery
[_i.e._ to Swansea], where two new kilns were prepared under their
direction. When endeavouring to improve and strengthen this beautiful
body, I was surprised at receiving a notice from Messrs. Flight and Barr
of Worcester, charging the parties calling themselves Walker and Beely
with having clandestinely left an engagement at their works.’

Beely was in fact no other than Billingsley, the wandering artist and
‘arcanist’ who in 1774 was apprenticed to Duesbury at Derby, and had
there learned the art of painting flowers on porcelain. We hear that in
1793 he was also landlord of the ‘Nottingham Arms,’ but in spite, or
perhaps rather in consequence, of thus having two strings to his bow,
he soon after left Derby, and for twenty years led a roving life. In
1796 he was at Pinxton, and it was here, says Mr. W. Turner (_The
Ceramics of Swansea and Nantgarw_), whom I now follow, that he perfected
his famous granulated frit body. Then follows an obscure period, during
which we hear of Billingsley at Mansfield, and again as a china
manufacturer at Torksey, in Lincolnshire. Finally, in 1808, he settled
down to work at Worcester under the name of Beely. His later migrations
to Nantgarw, to Swansea, and finally to Coalport, we have already
referred to.

Three years after Billingsley’s removal to Swansea, the manufacture of
porcelain was abandoned by Mr. Dillwyn: this was in 1817, barely six
years from the time when Billingsley started the Nantgarw works.

It is not quite certain whether the marks that distinguish the two
wares–‘Nantgarw’ above the letters ‘C. W.’ in one case, ‘Swansea’
sometimes with the addition of a trident (PL. E. 80) in the other–can
always be relied on to distinguish the two factories: the former mark
may have continued in use after the removal to Swansea.

The paste of some of the ware made at Swansea was very different from
that of Billingsley’s glassy porcelain. We know that both china-clay and
steatite from the Lizard were employed here, producing a somewhat hard
and opaque body.

Apart from their paste, renowned for its absolute whiteness and
considerable translucency, Billingsley and his pupils, Pardoe and
Walker, have acquired a certain fame by their enamel-painting on this
Nantgarw porcelain. Life-size roses, auriculas, tulips, and lilies were
their favourite flowers. This was the culmination, as it were, of the
school that delighted above all in the double rose, a not very paintable
flower, at least in a decorative point of view. We saw its beginnings at
Derby more than thirty years before this time. But Baxter the younger,
whom we have come across at his father’s workshop in Gough Square,
painted figure-subjects on the Swansea porcelain, and some of the
translucent ware of the Nantgarw type was sent up to London unenamelled,
there to be converted into the old soft paste of Sèvres.

* * * * *

Before we return to the West of England to treat of the true hard
porcelain of Plymouth and Bristol, there remain to be mentioned briefly
a few unimportant factories of soft paste–unimportant, that is, from
the point of view of art.

LOWESTOFT.–Taking advantage of some suitable clay found in the
neighbourhood, and of the fine silvery sand of the shore, a manufactory
of soft paste was established at Lowestoft about 1756. Later on we find
some references to a ‘Lowestoft Porcelain Company.’ The ware produced
was chiefly blue and white, with views of the neighbourhood, but other
small pieces are found crudely painted in colour. The execution of much
of this ware is very summary, and the glaze is often dull and spotted. A
blue and white plate in the British Museum, with _poudré_ ground and
panels painted with views of Lowestoft and the neighbourhood, is an
unusually favourable specimen. More commonly we find jugs and ink-pots
with inscriptions–‘A Trifle from Lowestoft,’ etc.–and with dates in
one or two cases ranging from 1762 to 1789. Whether any hard porcelain
from other sources was ever painted at Lowestoft is very doubtful.[242]

The ‘Lowestoft porcelain’ of the dealers is now known to have been
painted by Chinese artists at Canton. That this is so was conclusively
proved many years ago by Sir A. W. Franks. The thrashing out of the
question had the advantage of throwing much light on the origin of this
curious pseudo-European decoration. The greater part of this porcelain
painted at Canton is covered with elaborate armorial designs, and it was
made not only for England but for other European countries that traded
with the East. The history of this Sinico-European ware is well
illustrated in a large collection brought together chiefly by the late
Sir A. W. Franks and now in the British Museum.[243]

LIVERPOOL.–Pottery had been an article of export from Liverpool from an
early date, and much of the ware exported (it went above all to America)
was made in the neighbourhood. During the sixties of the eighteenth
century more than one of the local potters began to make a soft-paste
porcelain. One of these men–Richard Chaffers–we find scouring the
county of Cornwall in search of soap-stone and china-clay, as early
probably as the year 1755. Professor Church gives the recipe for the
‘china body’ used in 1769 by another potter–Pennington. The materials
are bone-ash, Lynn sand, flint, and clay,[244] the latter probably from

There is a good deal of uncertainty as to the identification of the
Liverpool china: some of it has perhaps been classed as Worcester or
Salopian. Examples of the ware attributed to this town may be found at
South Kensington; they are somewhat rudely printed in a heavy dark blue.
But it is probable that very little true porcelain was made at Liverpool
in the eighteenth century.

Early in the next century an important factory for pottery and
porcelain was founded on the opposite side of the Mersey, and thither
many workmen were brought from Staffordshire. Porcelain was made there
until the year 1841. The ware was marked ‘Herculaneum,’ the name of the
works. We find at times a bird holding a branch in its beak used as a
mark. This is the ‘liver,’ the crest of the town of Liverpool. The
liver, indeed, is occasionally found on ware of an earlier date.

PINXTON.–Our chief interest in the factory established in 1795 at
Pinxton, on the borders of Derbyshire and Northampton, by John Coke, is
derived from the temporary residence there of Billingsley. This was his
first stopping-place after leaving the Derby works: here he remained
until 1801, and it was here, probably, that he developed the ‘china
body’ used by him afterwards at Nantgarw. There were some pleasing
specimens of the Pinxton ware in the old Jermyn Street collection simply
decorated with ‘French twigs’ in blue and green. The ice-pail at South
Kensington, with canary ground and frieze of roses, illustrated in
Professor Church’s little book, was probably painted by Billingsley.

At CHURCH GRESLEY, in the extreme south of Derbyshire, an ambitious
attempt to make a porcelain of high quality nearly ruined Sir Nigel
Gresley, the representative of the old family long settled there. This
was in 1795, and after three successive owners had sunk their fortunes
in the factory, the works were finally closed in 1808. I can point to no
example of porcelain that can with certainty be attributed to these
kilns. Pottery and encaustic tiles are, however, still made in the

ROCKINGHAM PORCELAIN.–At Swinton, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, not
far from Sheffield, pottery-works were established in the eighteenth
century on the estates of the Wentworth family. These potteries were
called after the Marquis of Rockingham, who was more than once at the
head of the Government, and the name was carried over to the porcelain
which was made there by Thomas Brameld in the next century. This
factory was in existence from 1820 to 1842, and the ware turned out well
represents the taste of the time. ‘Brameld,’ we are told, ‘spared no
labour or cost in bringing his porcelain to perfection, and in the
painting and gilding he employed the best artists.’ The ornate
dinner-services made by him for William IV. and other royal personages
probably surpassed in elaborate decoration and expense of production
anything of the kind ever made in England. At South Kensington is a
gigantic vase–it is more than three feet in height,–on the top is a
gilt rhinoceros, an oak branch embraces the sides, the base is modelled
in the form of three paws, and the whole body of the vase is covered
with a series of highly finished pictures, chiefly flower pieces. This
vase is a unique example of everything that should be avoided in the
modelling and decoration of porcelain. On some of the Rockingham china
we find a griffin as a mark, in honour of Lord Fitzwilliam, who had
succeeded to the Wentworth estates on the death of his uncle, Lord

* * * * *

Already, at the commencement of the nineteenth century, the manufacture
of porcelain in England was beginning to be concentrated in the hands of
a few large firms in the pottery district of North Staffordshire, and
here a definite type of ‘china body’ was established suitable for
practical use. Bone-ash mixed with china-stone and china-clay from
Cornwall were and still remain the essential constituents of this paste:
to these materials ground flints are sometimes added.

Although it is apart from our purpose to trace the history of the great
Staffordshire firms, we must say a word of one family–the Spodes of
Stoke-upon-Trent. The firm founded by them was in a measure the common
centre from which the later establishments had their origin. Josiah
Spode the elder had been making pottery of various kinds at Stoke since
the year 1749; he it was who introduced the blue willow pattern to the
Staffordshire potteries. It was to his son, the second Josiah, that the
credit of first using bone-ash as an ingredient of porcelain was so long
ascribed. The statement thus put is of course absurd. His real merit lay
in abandoning the use of a frit and adopting a china-body consisting
simply of a mixture of china-stone and china-clay from Cornwall, with a
large proportion of bone-ash, and thus settling once for all the
composition of the industrial porcelain of England, a ware differing in
many respects from the eighteenth century soft pastes, and one capable
of being manufactured on a large scale without the risks that always
attended the firing of the latter. His ‘felspar porcelain,’ often so
marked, is of less consequence, but by using pure felspar instead of
china-stone he forestalled the practice since adopted by many
continental works, where felspar of Scandinavian origin is now largely

Later on, when William Copeland joined the firm, they became the most
important makers of porcelain and earthenware in England, and the
Continent was inundated with their wares. The founder of the rival firm
of Minton was a Shropshire man: at the end of the eighteenth century he
had been apprenticed to Turner at Caughley, and he, too, worked at one
time in the Spode factory. At a later date both firms claimed the credit
for the invention of an improved kind of biscuit, the Parian ware, of
which much was heard about the middle of the last century.

There is at South Kensington a representative collection of the finer
Spode wares, presented by a niece of the second Josiah. Great technical
perfection was attained, and the enamel colours are remarkably brilliant
and effective. I have already referred to a large tray, on which the
brocade pattern of the old Imari is seen in the last stage of decay. The
elements of the design have fallen to pieces, and lie helplessly
scattered over the surface. Yet this is a carefully finished piece, and
the enamels are of good quality. I take this tray as a typical example
of a style of decoration with coloured enamels both on porcelain and
earthenware which prevailed not many years ago on wares in domestic use.
Along with the transfer-printed _camaïeu_ mentioned on page 360, these
wares found their way to most parts of Europe and America.

BELLEEK.–Probably the last attempt that has been made with us to
establish a new factory of porcelain was at Belleek, near Lough Erne, in
northern Ireland. Here, under the direction of Mr. Armstrong, a very
fine and translucent paste was first made in 1857, and a peculiar
nacreous lustre was given to the ware by the use of a glaze prepared
with a salt of bismuth. The local felspar was employed together with
china-clay brought from Cornwall. Some care was given to the modelling
in imitation of shells and corals. Little of this ware, which may be
classed as a hard-paste porcelain, has been made of recent years.

The manufacture of true porcelain had but a short life in England. The
ware has no especial artistic merit, nor was it ever commercially of
much importance. And yet in the history of this short-lived attempt to
imitate the porcelain of China and Saxony, we find so many points (in
the composition and technique of the ware above all) that illustrate and
confirm what we have said in some early chapters, that we shall have to
follow up this history somewhat closely.

Moreover, the two men, thanks to whose energy and scientific knowledge
the difficulties attending the first manufacture of the new substance
were overcome, interest us in more ways than one. There is, in the first
place, Cookworthy the quaker, who, once he had solved the practical
problem that had hitherto baffled all the potters and arcanists of
England and France, was content to return to a quiet life among the
little _coterie_ of ‘friends’ at Plymouth. The other is Champion, the
friend of Burke, who, after his business had been ruined by the American
War, preferred to end his life as a farmer in the new country, with
whose struggle for independence he had throughout sympathised.

The two letters of the Père D’Entrecolles on the manufacture of
porcelain in China were known through their publication in Du Halde’s
collection soon after the date (1722) at which the second one was
written. The search for the essential constituents of a true porcelain
at once began. One of the first results of this search was the
appearance of the ‘Unaker, the produce of the Cherokee nation of
America,’ which is mentioned in Frye’s patent of 1744. Shortly after the
middle of the century, as we learn from Borlase’s _History of Cornwall_
(published in 1758), the attention of more than one manufacturer of
porcelain was directed to that county. But no one probably was so well
equipped for the search as William Cookworthy, the druggist of
Plymouth–he was already thoroughly acquainted with the geology of the
county. Cookworthy, too, must have carefully studied the letters of the
Jesuit missionary. In the memoir written by him at a later date (it is
given in full in Owen’s _Two Centuries of Ceramic Art at Bristol_) he
clearly distinguishes ‘the _petunse_, the _Caulin_, and the _Wha-she_,’
or soapy rock.[245]

In fact it is this that gives to Cookworthy so important a place in the
history of porcelain. He was probably the first in Europe to attack
practically, and finally to conquer, the problem of making a true
porcelain strictly on the lines of the Chinese as interpreted by the
Père D’Entrecolles. Böttger’s success, if one is to accept the official
German account, was rather the result of some happy accident–an
accident, it is true, of which only a man of genius knows how to avail

Cookworthy had his attention directed to the subject by an American
quaker, of whom he writes, in May 1745: ‘I had lately with me the person
who hath discovered the China-earth. He had several examples of the
China ware of their making with him, which were, I think, equal to the
Asiatic; … having read Du Halde, he discovered both the China-stone
and the Caulin.’[246]

Both the petuntse and the ‘Caulin’ were first identified by Cookworthy
at Tregonnin Hill (between Marazion and Helston)–this was about 1750.
The nature and mode of occurrence of both the growan or moor-stone and
of the growan clay, to use the local names, are admirably described by
him. Soon after this he found the two materials at St. Stephen’s,
between Truro and St. Austell, in the centre of what is now the great
china-clay district of Cornwall.

There must have been many experiments with the new materials, and many
failures, before the year 1768, when Cookworthy took out his patent, and
with the pecuniary assistance of Thomas Pitt of Boconnoc (later Lord
Camelford) started his factory at Plymouth. It is doubtful whether this
factory was in existence for more than two years. In any case there is
evidence that already, by the year 1770, the ‘Plymouth New Invented
Porcelain Manufactory’ was at work at Bristol.

We have proof, too, that before this time Richard Champion and others
had been working in the latter town with the new Cornish materials.
Champion had been asked by Lord Hyndford to make a report upon some
kaolin sent to him from South Carolina. In his reply he says: ‘I had it
tried at a manufactory set up some time ago on the principle of the
Chinese porcelain, but not being successful, is given up…. The
proprietors of the works in Bristol imagined they had discovered in
Cornwall all the materials similar to the Chinese; but though they burnt
the body part tolerably well, yet there were impurities in the glaze or
stone which were insurmountable even in the greatest fire they could
give it, and which was equal to the Glasshouse heat…. I have sent some
[_i.e_. of the Carolina clay] to Worcester, but this and all the English
porcelains being composed of frits, there is no probability of success.’
This is written in February 1766, before the date of Cookworthy’s

Meantime, in France, two men of some scientific pretensions, both of
them members of the _Académie des Sciences_, Lauraguais[248] and
D’Arcet, had discovered the kaolin deposits near Alençon. Lauraguais had
soon after 1760 succeeded in making some kind of porcelain with the
materials he had found. He was, however, forestalled by Guettard, a
rival chemist in the service of the Duke of Orleans, who in November
1765 read a paper before the _Académie_ on the kaolin and petuntse of
Alençon. Lauraguais, in disgust, after a violent rejoinder, came over to

In a curious letter dated April 1766, Dr. Darwin, writing to Wedgwood,
says: ‘Count Laragaut has been at Birmingham & offer’d ye Secret of
making ye finest old China as cheap as your Pots. He says ye materials
are in England. That ye secret has cost £16,000–y^{t}He will sell it
for £2000–He is a Man of Science, dislikes his own Country, was six
months in ye Bastile for speaking against ye Government–loves every
thing English’; but, adds Darwin, ‘I suspect his Scientific Passion is
stronger than perfect Sanity’ (Miss Meteyard, _Life of Wedgwood_, vol.
i. p. 436). Lauraguais, in 1766, proposed to take out a patent for
making not only the coarser species of china, but ‘the more beautiful
ware of the Indies and the finest of Japan.’ The specification was never
enrolled, and nothing came of it. There exist, however, a few specimens
of china marked with the letters B. L. (Brancas Lauraguais) in a flowing
hand, which are attributed to the Count.[249] The paste, says Professor
Church, is fine, hard, and of good colour. An analysis gives 58 per
cent. of silica, 36 per cent. of alumina, and 6 per cent. of other
bases. It will be observed that the percentage of alumina in this
porcelain is exceptionally high.

We see, therefore, that before the year 1770, when Cookworthy removed to
Bristol, true porcelain had been made in more than one place in England,
but not with enough success to allow the new ware to compete with the
soft pastes of Worcester and elsewhere. So in France, although the new
paste was introduced at Sèvres in 1769, it was only in 1774, so
Brongniart tells us, that the manufacture of hard porcelain was firmly

Champion seems to have been on friendly terms with Cookworthy, and in
1773 he bought from the latter the entire patent rights. In the two
previous years much of the new porcelain had been made. It is claimed
for it in advertisements that, unlike the English china generally, it
will wear as well as the East Indian, and that the enamelled porcelain,
though nearly as cheap as the English blue and white, ‘comes very near,
and in some pieces equals, the Dresden, which this work more
particularly imitates.’ This is from a local journal of November 1772,
and we may add that not only the ware was imitated, but also the
well-known marks of Dresden.[250]

Now, if we turn from these general considerations to examine the nature
of the West of England ware, we find some difficulty in drawing a line
between the early, partly experimental, porcelain made at Plymouth and
the later, more successful, products of the Bristol kilns. Nor will the
mark, the alchemist’s sign for Jupiter[251] (PL. E. 83), first used on
the Plymouth porcelain, help us much, for the same mark was certainly
used to some extent after Cookworthy’s migration to Bristol.

To Plymouth we must attribute the plain white ware with a glaze of dull
hue, disfigured by dark lines where the glaze lies thick in the
interstices. Cookworthy, we know, attempted to make his glaze from the
Cornish stone without the addition of any other substances.[252] In
other cases he followed the recipe given by the Père D’Entrecolles, and
gave greater fusibility to the growan-stone by adding a small quantity
of a frit made from a mixture of lime and fern ashes. Cookworthy even
ventured to follow the Chinese plan, and applied the glaze to the raw


or very slightly baked paste. The blue and white made by him, if we may
judge from the little mug in the British Museum, with the arms of
Plymouth and the date, March 14, 1768, was of very poor quality. The
Oriental designs on his enamelled porcelain seem to have come to him by
way of Chantilly. More successful was the plain white ware modelled in
relief, in a way that often calls to mind the early work of Bow. A good
example is the ‘Tridacna’ salt-cellar in the former Jermyn Street

At least one French modeller and enameller was employed at Plymouth, and
after the removal to Bristol we find the name of a German also. Henry
Bone, a Truro man, who afterwards became famous as a miniature-painter
in enamels, entered the works at Bristol as a lad, and passed there the
six years of his apprenticeship. Bone, who later on wrote R.A. after his
name, was the principal representative in England of the school of
painters in enamel upon slabs of porcelain, that played so important a
part at Sèvres at the beginning of the last century. At one time a
modeller of some skill must have been employed. Perhaps this was the
mysterious Soqui or Le Quoi.[253] Some little statuettes in the
Schreiber collection at South Kensington, ‘the Seasons,’ as represented
by boys and girls, are charmingly modelled. But we must not look for any
brilliancy of colour in the enamels. The highly infusible nature of the
paste, and what is even more important, of the glaze, added immensely to
the difficulty of obtaining anything of the kind. If we compare the
enamels on these statuettes with those on the Chelsea and Derby figures
in the same collection, the difference is at once apparent. The two most
important colours in the latter wares, the rose-pink and the turquoise,
it was impossible to develop at the high temperature required to soften
the refractory glaze of the hard porcelain. The greens, however, and the
coral reds of the Bristol figures are more successful. In the
specifications of 1775 there is mention of a glaze containing much
kaolin mixed with some arsenic and tin oxide.[254] Such a glaze might
allow of more brilliancy in the enamels, and it is to be noticed in this
connection that some statuettes long classed as Chelsea have only
comparatively lately been recognised as consisting of the Bristol paste.

Perhaps what we may regard as the most remarkable, certainly the most
original, work produced by Champion are the little circular or oval
plaques of white biscuit. These medallions vary from four to nine inches
in diameter. The central field contains a coat-of-arms modelled in low
relief, or more rarely a portrait bust, and among these last we find
heads of Benjamin Franklin and of George Washington, pointing to the
political sympathies of Champion. A wreath of flowers in full relief
surrounds the field–the sharpness and the finish in the modelling of
these minute leaves and blossoms has never been approached in this or
other material. In the manner of treatment, these wreaths are thoroughly
English, and we are reminded of the flowers carved in wood by Grinling
Gibbons (PL. XLIX.).

Champion made also a commoner ware, which he called ‘cottage china.’
This was summarily decorated in colours without any gilding. The glaze
on this ware was applied over the raw paste, on the Chinese plan that
had already been tried by Cookworthy.

Champion was an active politician and a vehement


supporter of the American colonists in their dispute with the mother
country. The visit of Edmund Burke to Bristol in 1774, and his election
as member for the city, may be regarded as the climax of his career.
Then it was that the famous tea-set was presented by Champion and his
wife to Mrs. Burke, as a _pignus amicitiæ_. Still more elaborately
decorated was the other service that Burke gave to Mrs. Smith, the wife
of the friend of Champion, at whose house he stayed on this occasion.
The shapes and the decoration of this service were founded on Dresden
models, and the wreaths of laurels that formed an essential part of the
design afforded a good field for the display of the green colour in
which Champion excelled.

But Champion’s troubles were now to begin. In 1775 his petition to
Parliament for a renewal of his patent was vigorously opposed by
Wedgwood. Champion must have been put to great expense–he exhibited
before a committee of the House some selected specimens of his
porcelain. He, however, won his case, though the monopoly in the
employment of the Cornish clays was restricted to their use as a
material for _transparent_ wares, a point of some importance to the
Staffordshire potter. But meantime the American War was ruining his
business–for Champion was in the first place a merchant trading with
the West Indies and America–and it is probable that little porcelain
was made by him after 1777. The next year Wedgwood, his inveterate
opponent, in a letter to Bentley, says of him, ‘Poor Champion, you may
have heard, is quite demolished…. I suppose we might buy some
Growan-stone and Growan-clay now upon easy terms.’ In 1781, after a long
negotiation, he disposed of his patent to some Staffordshire potters,
and shortly after this he emigrated to America. Champion was only
forty-eight years old when, in 1791, he died at his new home in South

As Professor Church has pointed out, the paste of the Bristol porcelain
is of exceptional hardness. It is, in fact, in some specimens as hard as
quartz, that is, say, the hardness is equal to 7 in the scale of the
mineralogist: the hardness of Oriental porcelain, it will be remembered,
varies between 6 and 6·5; the glaze on the Bristol china is about 6 on
the same scale. The fractured surface may be described as subconchoidal
and somewhat flaky, with a greasy to vitreous lustre. On the Plymouth
and Bristol wares, especially on the larger vases, may often be seen,
when viewed in a favourable light, certain spiral ridges, the result of
the unequal pressure of the ‘thrower’s’ hand. Similar ridges may indeed
be observed at times on other hard paste wares, both Chinese and
European, and this ‘wreathing’ or _vissage_, as Brongniart long ago
pointed out, is the result of the _too great plasticity_ of the clay,–a
clay may, in fact, be too ‘fat’ to work well on the wheel. This
plasticity, however, would be of advantage to the modeller, especially
when working on a very small scale; indeed the delicate floral reliefs
in biscuit, on the plaques we have already spoken of, could only have
been made from a fine and unctuous clay. How refractory to heat this
same paste is, was well proved by the fire at the Alexandra Palace in
1873, when so many fine specimens of English porcelain were destroyed. A
biscuit plaque or medallion of Bristol porcelain passed uninjured (by
heat at least) through this fire, while the soft porcelain alongside of
it was completely melted.

The paste, then, of this Bristol ware is remarkable both for its
resistance to heat and for its great plasticity. These are both
qualities that point to an excess of kaolin in its composition, and this
excess is confirmed by analysis. Professor Church found in a specimen of
Bristol china 63 per cent. of silica, 33 per cent. of alumina, and only
4 per cent. of lime and alkalis. The percentage of alumina is about the
same as that in the hard pastes of Meissen and of Sèvres, but the small
amount of the other bases is quite exceptional. A paste of this
composition would contain about 65 per cent. of kaolin.

And here, before ending, we may for a moment return to what is, perhaps,
the crucial point of all in the composition of true porcelain–for it is
one that has a radical influence both on the technical and on the
artistic side. The first question we must ask when inquiring into the
composition of any specimen of porcelain is this–What proportion of
kaolin enters into its composition? Or if it is a matter of the primary
constituents of the paste–What is the percentage of alumina that it
contains? Now we may consider the composition of kaolin, after removing
the water, to be silica 54 per cent. and alumina 46 per cent., and the
nearer the composition of our porcelain approaches to these figures, the
greater will be its hardness, its resistance to fire, and the greater
also the plasticity of the paste–the greater in fact will be what we
have called the ‘severity’ of the type.[255]

Now for the other component of porcelain, the petuntse or china-stone.
The composition of this material differs widely, but let us take the
mean of some analyses of Cornish stone. On this basis we may take silica
72 per cent., alumina 18 per cent., other bases 10 per cent., as our
type. The result of adding such a material to our kaolin will be to
increase the percentage of silica and of the ‘other bases,’ and to
diminish the percentage of alumina in the resultant mixture. Our paste
now becomes less plastic and the resultant porcelain more readily
softened by heat, but at the same time less hard.

So far every one would be agreed. But the question now arises, are we to
attribute this increased fusibility to the higher percentage of the
other bases (these are, in the case of European porcelain, practically
lime and potash), or in a measure at least to the increased amount of
silica in the paste? We have here three variants, the silica, the
alumina, and the ‘other bases,’ and the case is therefore somewhat
complicated. I think, however, that the careful examination of any table
giving the composition of various types of porcelain would show that up
to a certain point an increase in the amount of silica promotes a lower
softening-point in the paste, and this in cases where there is no
important change in the proportion of the ‘other bases.’ I will
illustrate this by comparing the composition of the severe hard paste of
Sèvres on the one hand with an analysis of a mild type of Chinese
porcelain on the other:–

Sèvres hard paste (1843). Chinese porcelain.

Silica, 58 per cent. 70·5 per cent.
Alumina, 34·5 ” 21 ”
Other bases, 7·5 ” 7·5 ”

No doubt, if the percentage of silica is further increased, say beyond
78 or 80 per cent., we get again a practically infusible body. But with
a paste of this composition the resultant ware is no longer
translucent–we pass from the region of porcelain to a true stoneware.

Thus we see that in composition a mild porcelain forms a middle term
between stoneware on the one hand, and a severe porcelain on the other.
In other words, stoneware cannot be regarded as an extreme type of a
refractory porcelain.