Agate

Literature:  Agate ware was developed even earlier than the popular Tortoiseshell wares, which were first mentioned around 1749, "perhaps around 1744 and specifically at that time for cutlery, paving the way for the fashionable Chelsea and Bow handles of the 1750's; for National Jeffreys of the Strand advertised in 1740 that he 'has had the Honour of serving a great many Gentlemen of the first Rank in the Army, with the fine new fashion Staffordshire-Handle Knives and Forks for the Camp...at the lowest prices'...and indeed as early as 1749 Thomas Whieldon was recorded as supplying '32 dessert handles'. 

The technique of making Agate Ware allowed for great flexibility in the design, colour, and scale of the veined patterns.  It could be made up into blocks, then rolled or squeezed to reduce the size of the original pattern, then cut into slices and rolled into a sheet.

It could also be thrown on the wheel with perhaps some risk of stretching the pattern:  cruder traditional thrown pottery using red and white clays generally display a striped spiral effect...

For shapes like spoon trays and sauce boats it could be pressed into open moulds, while for globular teapots two moulded hemispheres could be expertly and (almost invisibly) joined around the girth...

Fairly sophisticated and like no other type of ceramics, it remained popular at least until the 1770s..."

Source:  Pages 89 and 90 "English Pottery 1620-1840" by Robin Hildyard

Additional background:

"It is interesting to observe that the handles were not easily mold made, but had to be formed freehand by the potters.  Thus the veining loses its fine definition, and the colors become smeared and intermingled...

Its popularity continued until the advent of creamware, which overshadowed and eventuall swept away all early styles and competition."  Source:  The Burnap Collection of English Pottery by Ross E. Taggart."

Agate ware is fairly scarce and difficult to find which is why the price points on this type of ware are usually comparitively higher than other Staffordshire wares.

 

 

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