18th Century English Porcelain

I’m not an expert in every area of antiques and collectables, and you should immediately mistrust anyone who says they are. I’ve always admired my colleagues, both on and off the Antiques Roadshow, who know about 18th & 19th century English porcelain. I’m always impressed how they can hold a piece to the light and tell from the ‘orange’ tone of the body that it was made by Caughley, for example.  Then there are the patterns and the shapes – some of the latter being inspired by period silver wares. I’ve also really rather liked it all but have, dare I say, always been a little scared to get involved before.
So, to remedy all of this, I’ve begun to build a small reference collection of porcelain by different makers, so that I can learn by directly comparing them against each other. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, so I’ll tread carefully and am not aiming to become an ‘expert’ in any sense of the word. Because my budget is tight and I’m not buying for investment, I’ve decided to buy damaged pieces – like this tea bowl. The sharp-eyed will have already spotted the crack. Don’t be put off buying damaged pieces if you’re buying simply because you like them and can’t afford pieces in perfect condition or, like me, if you’re buying to learn. So at last weekend’s Antiques For Everyone fair, Judith accompanied me to the wonderful display put on by the kind and helpful dealers, collectors and passionate enthusiasts, Joyce Epps and Jenny Homewood.
After a fascinating, friendly and enlightening conversation, I came away with two tea bowls – a First Period Worcester transfer-printed ‘Birds in Branches’ bowl from c1770-1780 in perfect condition, and the Liverpool bowl shown here, with the transfer-printed  ‘Fisherman’ pattern, dating from the late 18thC. Why was I afraid? Silly boy! Yesterday I asked my friend, Roadshow and Bonhams specialist and all-round ceramics supremo Fergus Gambon, about it. As well as thinking my idea was a jolly good one as he did the same when he began learning, he told me that my bowl was probably by the Liverpool factory of Seth Pennington. More information to look into – great!

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