Author Archives: Stuart Slavid

English Parian Ware: The Statues of the People

Wedgwood Carrara Figure of Milton, England, 19th century

Parian ware is a type of porcelain produced to imitate carved marble. As it could be cast and molded, the material was ideal for mass production at a scale and cost not possible with carved stone. Unglazed white bisque porcelain was popular in the late 18th century at the Sevres factory in France and Derby in England, each producing very sophisticated bisque figural groups. By the 1820s several other firms were in production, including Worcester, Rockingham, Coalport, and Minton.… Read More

Chess Sets by Wedgwood

The popular Netflix drama miniseries The Queen’s Gambit, written and directed by Scott Frank, has undoubtedly helped to repopularize the game of chess for both novices and enthusiasts. Interest in collecting chess pieces has never waned, and the market has been competitive for many years.

Thirty-two-piece Wedgwood Jasper Chess Set modeled after an original design by John Flaxman, based on characters from Shakespeare’s Macbeth

In the mid 1780’s John Flaxman, Jr., a young sculptor in his early 30’s designed a set of chess pieces for Josiah Wedgwood.Read More

Hester Bateman: Domestic Silver in 18th Century England

Hester Bateman (1708–1794) is considered one of England’s most successful woman silversmiths of the late eighteenth century due to her entrepreneurial acumen. From a poor background and no formal education, she married the goldsmith and chain maker John Bateman at 24. Upon his passing in 1760, the widowed Hester took over the shop, registering at London’s Goldsmiths’ Hall on April 16, 1761 with the first of her nine ‘HB’ marks.

‘HB’ mark

Over the next 30 years, along with her sons, Jonathan and Peter, and daughter-in-law Ann, Hester Bateman built up the family business using thin gauge sheet silver, specializing in household silver.… Read More

Josiah Wedgwood and the Abolition of the Slave Trade

Josiah Wedgwood, the English potter, was an original member of the Lunar Society, a group of prominent figures in the Midlands, including industrialists, natural philosophers, and intellectuals. Matthew Boulton, Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestley, and the author and abolitionist Thomas Day were members of the social club formed to discuss issues with other like-minded individuals.

In 1773 Thomas Day wrote the epic poem The Dying Negro, which may have been partly responsible for arousing Josiah’s practical opposition to the slave trade.… Read More

The Fascination with Chinese Export Silver

Three-piece Chinese Export Silver Tea Set, Shanghai, late 19th/early 20th century, Tuck Chang & Co., sold for $8,575

Following a blossoming of interest in the 1960s, Chinese export silver has never been more collectible than it is today. The demographics of the market, however, have changed. The days of American collectors ruling the roost has given way to Chinese collectors, demonstrating their willingness to out-pay and outbid all others.… Read More

The Whimsy of Staffordshire Bocage Figures

Pair of Staffordshire Bocage Cows, England, c. 1815-25 (Lot 401, Estimate: $500-700)

A bocage, says Wikipedia, can refer to a terrain of mixed woodland and pasture, a small forest or a decorative element of trees and leaves. English and continental porcelain figures of the eighteenth century often had trees and leaves, both as an ornamental and colorful backdrop to figures and importantly as an added stabilizer to support the figures during kiln firing. 

By the 19th century, the production and firing of English earthenware were far more consistent, and often these trees were added more for their ornamental appeal than necessity.… Read More

Wedgwood Jasperware: A 10-Point Primer

DETAIL | Wedgwood Numbered First Edition Copy of the Portland Vase, England, 18th century, sold for $147,000 on July 15, 2016

Wedgwood is ripe for collecting with examples manufactured in a variety of bodies, colors and subject matter over 260 years of production. To the novice, Wedgwood is often light blue jasper or perhaps a familiar dinner service from childhood. What they might not realize is the breadth of production or the fact that Wedgwood collectors span the globe.… Read More

The Portland Vase: How Josiah Wedgwood Turned an Ancient Glass Masterpiece into a Ceramic Legacy

One of the most famous surviving Roman works of art, The Portland Vase, is a fused glass vase and was believed to have been made during the reign of Augustus, sometime between 27 BC and AD 14. It consists of two layers, a dark blue overlaid with a soft white. The relief was cameo cut by gem engravers of the highest order and is considered a masterpiece of its kind. At some point the base was damaged and an additional disc was added showing a portrait of a man wearing a Phrygian cap.… Read More

Troy Dawson Chappell: A Passion for Collecting

Troy D. Chappell was introduced to American and British decorative arts through the collections at Colonial Williamsburg more than fifty years ago. His attraction to English pottery, in particular, began in earnest about 1969. His goal was to assemble and contrast pieces to demonstrate most of the manufacturing materials and forming techniques, manners of shapes and colored decorations, and progression of styles that dominated the English pottery trade for the period of roughly 1630 to 1800.… Read More

Collecting Trends in British Delftware and Dutch Delft

In the 17th and 18th century the manufacturing of tin glazed earthenware in Holland and the British Isles (including Scotland and Ireland) referred to as delft or delftware, was all the rage.

Chinese porcelains strongly influenced much of their designs, first in blue and white and then in the beautiful soft polychrome enamels. Certainly the influx of these porcelains to Holland via the Dutch East India Company helped inspire the beautiful designs and motifs, particularly on the large elegant chargers.… Read More

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