Bone China is from…England!|GianFranco Belloli|KnowLedge World Network|Activities|KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL

  • 2020.10.23
  • Bone China is from…England!
English porcelain is well known to collectors and enthusiasts of antiques and porcelain because it can be said that the oldest factory in Europe was born in this country, and more precisely in Staffordshire, but not only: the companies of the most ancient and important porcelain brands were founded here and even first bone china was born here (and not in China as one may think!).
My girlfriend “collects” porcelain and she began to get closer to pottery while she was walking in Portobello Road in the midst of dozens of stalls, attracted by bucolic and floral landscapes on cups and plates. She then decided to read articles and find out more about the manufacturers, the drawings, the drawing method and the difference between China, Bone China and porcelain, majolica and so on.
Staffordshire porcelain means not only the region where the oldest porcelain was produced but it also refers to a wide variety of porcelain styles and products such as…the Salt-glazed porcelain.
More than porcelain, it is a terracotta of medieval origin, produced for the first time in the Rhineland area.
It is a stoneware on which, during cooking, when the temperature is high, common salt thrown into the oven is added: a particular vitrification is therefore obtained and the terracotta takes on a typical appearance, similar to an orange peel.
The terracotta thus obtained is usually a warm brown or blue, only slightly shiny.
The manufacture of these particular pottery began in England during the second part of the 17th century but the similarity of these products with German products of a similar time made it probable that they were attributed to potters of Germanic origin.
An important English producer of salt pottery was Sir Dwight at Fulham Pottery which was founded in the 17th century too.
Another typical Staffordshire ceramic production is that of creamware porcelain, a refined cream-colored terracotta with a lead glaze on a white body, known in France as fine faience, in Germany and in Italy as English earthenware. It was produced around the mid-17th century by the Staffordshire potters, who perfected the materials and techniques of salt-glazed pottery on products with a thinner section, thinner and whiter in colour by means of a brilliant vitreous lead cover, which was thus suitable for household items to supplant the salt pottery, in vogue until the end of the following century.
A weeping willow decoration was the most widespread and famous among these chinoiseries.
Staffordshire porcelain is also synonymous with a particular decoration of the porcelain, in white and blue.
If the beginning, ancient Chinese porcelains were plain coloured, either of a bluish or greenish plain colour, the ceramic art almost immediately refined techniques to make them even more beautiful and so the decoration in blue on a white background was developed.
Blue is normally given by cobalt oxide, applied with various techniques.
The first highly prized Chinese porcelains therefore had a white and blue decoration as they were imported into Europe and over time imitated both in manufacturing and decoration.
Many majolica ceramics are also able to keep their distinctive natural colours and just as the fashion of chinoiserie has led to the replication of the hue, and also of the subjects of Chinese porcelain.
Later in the 18th century, much of this local production was destined for the American market, where English porcelain was much loved.
Bone China was invented in England and it is so called for the ashes of bones or phosphates introduced in a relevant percentage in its preparation process, which includes kaolin and pegmatite.
Pegmatite is mined locally in England and more specifically in Cornwall.
In this porcelain the percentage of kaolin is considerably lower than that used for hard porcelain, and the firing temperature is also significantly lower, as is characteristic of soft porcelain.


  • GianFranco Belloli
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I moved to London over 2 years ago but only last year I started writing for a local newsletter for Expats in London telling about my experience in this big city and giving advice to newcomers. London is a very dynamic city and has a lot for everyone but it’s important to have a local point of view to navigate it without getting lost. Let me be your guide to hidden London!

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