Length: 248 pages plus index
Illustrations: several black-and-white photographs and sketches
Quote: “Antique porcelain is one of England’s most fascinating but tantalizing treasures...a major delight is the limitless range of [t]his subject.”
Fresh data about old ceramic work is always turning up...and in this book, Therle and Bernard Hughes supply enough detailed data about antique British chinaware for the serious collector.
That’s what you will and won’t love about this book. It explains which of the myriad of brands of porcelain and china on the market have high collection value, and why...with descriptions of the colors each manufacturer used, the techniques, the favored decorative motifs, sometimes the names and biographies of the people who made up each manufacturing company. It's like a guidebook to consult while deciding what to bid on most competitively at an auction.
Since 1955 makers of replicas have had the chance to use this book to make more credible faux antiques, so the Hughes’ work may have become a less reliable guide to separating the replicas from the Real McCoy. (Speaking of which, of course...this book doesn’t discuss U.S. ceramics at all, and never mentions McCoy.) On the other hand, the complexity and expensiveness of antique porcelain production has tended to limit the profitability of fake antiques. Nine out of ten people who buy plates with landscape pictures on them are satisfied with either a friend’s efforts or a mass-produced, frankly plastic piece; for those who want the real thing, a few corners may be cut, but it’s not easy to fake eighteenth-century china without actually making something close to the equivalent of eighteenth-century china.
Current information about what’s selling at what price is, of course, available online. For historical information, still valid, about the antique British trademarks to look for, here’s more than anyone not in the antique business could possibly have asked for about Chelsea, Bow, Longton Hall, Derby, Bristol, Worcester, Caughley, Liverpool, Lowestoft, Nantgarw, Swansea, Madeley, Plymouth, New Hall, Spode, Coalport, Minton, Rockingham, Davenport, and Wedgwood.
You’ll learn why a porcelain owl or pheasant was once an exciting technological breakthrough, which colors could have been used on a china figurine in 1750 and which would only have been available in 1850, which manufacturers always stamped a nice clear label on the bottom of each piece and which ones didn’t, and the precise chemical reasons why some antique china had distinctive tones or textures that might not be found in other antiques from the same year.You’ll learn which brands often identify the work of women artists (sometimes husband-wife or brother-sister teams) and which brand was painted by men who threatened a strike when women artists were hired.
This is the kind of book that belongs under the counter for reference, and would also make ideal bathroom reading, in an antique shop.