Saturday, December 7, 2013

Around the world on a blue and white plate

Blue and White china can be looked upon as the ceramic equivalent to DNA within the British Isles as centuries of pottery shards now appear scattered throughout the entire length and breadth of these islands from my vegetable garden on the top end of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides to my brother's garden down in Cornwall I am constantly stooping to pick up and rub clear the
soil from fragments of china and more often than not these are blue and white transfer ware. Cornwall became extremely important during the Napoleonic wars to the potteries in supplying the ore that gave the wonderful rich cobalt blue. During the 18th century blue and white porcelain became immensely popular arriving from the east stowed at the bottom of the ship's hold keeping the more precious tea out of the bilge water. However towards the end of the 18th century when the tranfer printing of cobalt blue was perfected it soon became available to every house in the land. The blue and whiye pottery from the early part of the 19th century today remains a comprehensive and historical social record of the period illustrating like the newsprint of the day the pastimes and passions of the people. During this period the Grand Tours of Europe were popular with all young gentlemen and ladies who could afford it, while fascination in the orient and all that was coloured red on the map also served as inspiration for the adventurous artist and engravers, the vissual bloggers of their day. From the domestic views of the country estate, from celebratios of victory to the commemorations of loss, from flowers and fruit to strange new species of mammals all was to be discovered on your dinner plate. In the summer of 1968 while French students were manifesting their grievances on the streets of Paris my father and I pawed enthusiastically over china pl;ates in Chalky White's shop down in St Agnes, Cornwall and there made our first purchase of blue and white transfer ware.The adventure lasted over 40 years and after my father's death it is now coming up for sale at David Lays Auction House in Penzance on December 12th 2013. The entire collection of over 400 lots can be viewed on line at

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