Literature: "...The opening of the trade with China by the various India Companies introduced tea to Western Europe and led to a steady change in drinking habits; a demand grew up for pottery of greater refinement than anything that had been made in England before.  This was at first met by shipping from China - with the tea itself - the small red stoneware teapots made near Nanking which were used by preference in that country for serving the beverage.  The second occurrence was the dynastic change by which the last Stuart King was obliged to quit the country and give up the throne to his daughter and her husband, William of Orange.  Among the many personages who came over from Holland in the train of the new sovereigns were two silversmiths, the brothers John Philip and David Elers, who had conceived the idea of manufacturing in England teapots and other articles in fine pottery, to compete with those coming from China.  

The innovations which the brothers Elers introduced into the Staffordshire potteries were twofold.  It was doubtless their experience as silversmiths which suggested to them the use of a horizontal lathe to give their wares by turning, when hardened by drying, a smoother and more even surface than could easily be obtained in the process of throwing on the wheel.  Their second novelty was decoration by means of small metal stamps or seals, with a pattern cut in intaglio, to produce the neat reliefs of foliage and other ornament found on the wares attributed to them...Lastly, following the Chinese, they provided against porosity not by applying a glaze but by hard firing.  The result was the production of articles suitable for a tea party, of a kind never seen in England before the imporation from China began...

The new manufacture was a challenge to the native potters to improve their methods, and it was not long before they began to compete for the newly established trade.  The names of Astbury and Joshua Twyford, are mentioned as pioneers in the exploitation of the new technique...digging at both sites of the factories of both men which were situated near each other...has yielded potsherds of ware precisely similar to that which it has long been customary to classify as 'Astbury ware'.

These services show a technical innovation which differentiates them from the unglazed ware of the 'Elers type' and from the earlier slip ware; they were submitted to two firings.   Having first received the stamped reliefs with which they were usually ornamented, they were fired, like Elers ware, to what is known as the 'biscuit' a rule the wares were covered with a lead glaze which then needed a second firing in what is called in Staffordshire a 'glost oven'.  When thus fixed on the ware the glaze assumed a pale cream-coloured tone where seen over the white clay reliefs and gave a warm brownish gloss to the red 'body'.   

Evidence for the dating of these can be obtained by comparison with the white or drab saltglaze ware...for decorating with identical stamps were often used.  A date about the fourth decade of the eighteenth century seems most probable."

Source:  Pages 15-18, Early Staffordshire Pottery by Bernard Rackham"



3 products