English Creamware Pottery, not a dust collector, you can use it too.

This is my first blog so pardon me while I get my writing kinks out.  I am no historian nor am I an expert on the field of English pottery but I do know that I have a passion about it and just enough knowledge to get me into a little more than just a bit of trouble.  

The thing is that once you get to know this pottery; you feel it and you live with it, you'll be bitten by the bug too.  But what's important to know, is that these wonderful pieces, at least some of them, can be used every day; they don't need to be relegated to a cabinet or shelf only to be looked at.  Plus, you can start small and begin your collection with pieces that, while lovely, won't break your budget.

Like this dessert plate here, for example, it is just $350.00, c1770-80 and most likely Leeds.An English Creamware pierced and molded edge dessert plate. c1770-80 probably Leeds.

This could be a first purchase and then, with it in hand, you can learn about the history, and the makers as you start to build your collection.   

Plus, and here's the good news, you can use these pieces in your everyday life.  The dessert plate, pictured above, would make a great candy dish or, if entertaining, you could use it to serve cookies or a few cupcakes; just remember to always hand wash and not use the dishwasher.   

You don't want to use the dishwasher because the extreme heat will bring up any restoration that had been done to the piece--so hand wash only!

You could also use the plate as decoration on the wall by itself or with a combination of plates in different sizes.  They would make a beautiful display for use in your living room, dining room, entry hall or just about anywhere in your home.

I have clients who only purchase pieces that they can and do use.   Take a look, for example, at this vegetable tureen, it is not only beautiful and light as a feather  but it is also sturdy enough to use.

An English creamware vegetable tureen and cover, c1770-80.

The key is to know how to use these pieces, that have survived for over 200 years, without breaking them and that's easy, all you need is a little common sense and you'll be all set.   

With this particular piece, if you are sitting down to dinner and are going to eat family style, then you would need to pass it around the table by holding it with two hands just under the handles. 

While the handles are sturdy, holding them with a filled tureen, might be enough to create a crack and you would want to avoid that from happening.  The tureen would also look lovely, amongst your other serving pieces, on a sideboard or buffet.

The bottom line is that you shouldn't think about these pieces as 'dust collectors' for the cabinet.  They can be used and enjoyed as long as you take care in how you use them.   

Wouldn't it be fun to use this sauceboat, it has a fox on one end, as the spout, and a swan at the other, as the handle, to serve cream when you are having coffee or tea.

An English Creamware Fox and Swan sauceboat, c1780-90

It would definitely make a great conversation piece and would probably draw a few chuckles.  The expression on the fox is delightful as he thinks about how he is going to get at the swan.  This piece dates c1780-90 and it is decorated in underglaze enamel colors.  

Or how about using this English creamware sweet meat centerpiece, c1780-90.  It would be a lovely piece to put on your coffee table with chocolates and candies. 

An English Creamware sweet meat dish with a dolphin handle surrounded by five shells, c1780-90

Or if you are having a dinner party, you could fill it with olives and pickles or nuts and fruits and have it on the buffet.  You could also pass it around the dinner table; but, only by holding it under the base.  No matter how you choose to use the sweet meat centerpiece, the fact remains that it would make a fabulous addition to your home. 

There is far more to say about creamware and collecting; this is just one aspect of what you can do with these pieces once you get them home.  Truly,  just a few thoughts in the hope they encourage you to think about starting your own collection. 

If I've done my job right, the 'take away' should be that these lovely antiques aren't just pieces of history or 'dust catchers', they are useful too.  

For a little history, just 'the tip of the iceburg' so to speak, I have found excerpts from a book that will give you information on Creamware and its beginnings; a small taste to get you started.  The book, one of my favorites, is "Creamware" by Donald Towner and it offers terrific background on this beautiful pottery.

"Between 1763 and 1767, Wedgwood made a great many changes not only in the body and glaze of the creamware but also in the methods of its manufacture..

The most important change, however...was the incorporation of Cornish china-clay and china-stone from Cornwall into both body and glaze.  This not only produced a much paler creamware but also gave it a lightness and brilliance which was wholly new...By 1770 other Staffordshire potters were producing the light-coloured creamware to which Wedgwood had given the name, "Queen's ware"...A letter from Wedgwood...shows that the creamware potteries, at this time at any rate, made either the deep or pale creamware, but were unable for practical reasons to make both simultaneously... 

By 1778 he transformed this ware into virtually a “new substance of great beauty, which combined lightness with strength and was capable of the greatest delicacy of workmanship...

The attribution of pieces of creamware to a particular factory has always been a difficulty, as virtually no creamware was marked prior to Josiah Wedwood's manufacture of it in Burslem.  In 1772, however, Wedgwood wrote to Thomas Bentley proposing that all his ware should be marked, but even after that date a considerable quantity of his ware seems to have missed being stamped.  Other factories were for the most part content to leave their wares unmarked, largely due, no doubt, to the practice of supplying each other with wares to supplement exhausted stocks.  The difficulty of attribution is further increased by the similarity of both body and glaze of the creamware made by a number of potteries as well as by the interchange and copying of ideas."

Source:  "Pages 21 and 44, Creamware by Donald Towner"

For any collector just starting out, I would highly recommend this book as a great investment.  Each month, I hope to blog more information about creamware, along with the other pieces featured on the website. 

And, I look forward to hearing from you about any ideas that you may have in how to incorporate this lovely pottery into your daily life.  Thanks for reading.  AJ

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1 comment

  • These are really rare and beautiful pieces. It’s one thing to be marvelled by their ornate beauty in photos, and yet another thing to see them in person. I would absolutely love to see these in a holiday place setting or displayed with culinary works of art. Keep posting. Love it.

    Racheal Jankelson

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