Potteries in England

[Trade Journal]

Publication: The Pottery Gazette

London, England
p. 635-636, col. 1-3


Continued from p. 494.

IN continuation of our articles on the above subject, before giving some particulars of the early history of the old Crown Derby Porcelain Company, we cannot do better than place before our readers a few details of the new factory which has recently been completed, and over which, a few days ago, one of our representatives had the pleasure of going.

In 1877 Mr. Edward Phillips, who had been managing director of the Worcester Royal Porcelain Company from the formation of that company, purchased the Derby workhouse and land adjoining just outside the old boundaries of the town, and, with the assistance of friends, started the present Derby company, who have revived the manufacture in Derby, which had all but died out, and by adapting the workhouse buildings, and making necessary additions, and erecting a large grinding mill with powerful engine and machinery, with ovens, kilns, &c., the Derby Crown Porcelain Company have now works which, when the additions that are not yet completed on several acres of spare land are finished, will rank with any manufactory in the trade.

The handsome show-rooms have a display of ornamented articles and services in china and crown Derby ware in such a variety of styles, that purchasers for every market should find what they require. The earliest productions of the company have been the old Derby patterns revived in blue dakoi, scarlet, and gold, with the Derby lily in rich blue and gold. We noticed also a collection of the old Derby figures, remodeled and finished after the old style of decoration, including the grotesque dwarfs which have realized such high prices in the old Derby by auction. In the great variety of patterns for services for the breakfast and dinner tables many are painted after nature, evidently by artists of ability and culture; but we noticed a great variety of services and ornaments, with very rich conventional decoration on white and coloured grounds. The most attractive and novel ornaments are in transparent ivory body, decorated in a style we should say was peculiar to the new Derby company, in gold and colours most artistically blended, and the delicate and elaborate perforation of portions of the ornament give them extreme richness and beauty. The export orders for these ornaments had taxed the company's powers of production to the utmost.

The pure white of the body of the china is very marked, and also the close resemblance of the crown Derby ware to china, both as to texture and colour of the body and style of decoration.

Judging by the number of dinner services we saw papered up ready for packing, "Crown Derby" must be in great request by the dealers.

To Mr. Phillips is chiefly due the success which the company have had in the short period of their new history. The ability and energy which he has displayed reflect great credit upon him. The company's London show-rooms at Ely-place, Holborn, E.C., are in charge of a well-known agent, Mr. E. Spiers, who has always a very comprehensive selection of the admirable productions of the firm.

The Derby porcelain manufactory was established in 1751, by William Duesbury of Longton, Staffordshire, and was situated on the Nottingham-road, beyond St. Mary's Bridge. The concern seems not to have been prominent for artistic productions until Duesbury purchased the Chelsea works in 1769, and part of the plant at Bow in 1775 or 1776. The two factories at Chelsea and Derby were carried on simultaneously until 1784, when the former was ultimately broken up, and every thing movable sent to Derby.

After the decease of William Duosbury in 1788, the business devolved upon his oldest son, who took Michael Kean into partnership Kean was an excellent designer, and managed the factory for tho widow of William Duesbury the younger, until about the year 1815, whoa the concern was sold to Robert Bloor, who had been clerk and salesman to the firm for several years. Bluer died after a protracted illness in 1849, and the Derby china manufactory ceased to exist.

After the closing of the old works, Mr. Locker, Bloor's manager, started a small factory in King-street, which subsequently passed into the hands of Messrs. Stevenson, Sharp, & Co., later Stevenson & Hancock.

The materials employed for the Derby porcelain were probably the same as those used at Chelsea, in addition to Bideford clay, and later the Cornish caolins and china stones.

The articles manufactured during the first period (1751 to 1769), appear to have boon chiefly small chimney ornaments, such as lambs, birds, cats, dogs, &c., in white china and printed ware.

The Chelsea-Derby period, between 1769 and 1784, is marked by productions of great excellence in modelling and decoration. In 1773 Mr. Duesbury had an elegant suite of show-rooms fitted up at No. 1, Bedford-street, Covent Garden, Loudon, and issued a catalogue in small 4to of twenty pages, comprising nearly 200 objects, amongst them jars, vases, urns, tripods, altars, in antique and modern taste, an extensive variety of rich and select table and dessert services, biscuit groups, and figures. Copies of this Derby pattern book have become very scarce, and should be preserved whenever met with. At one time the Derby works possessed more than 500 models for figures and groups, some in three or four different sizes.

Amongst the numerous artists employed at the Derby works, the most noteworthy are:—William Billingsley, who was subsequently employed at the Pinxton and Nant-garw Porcelain Works, for flowers; Zacharia Bowman, for landscapes, flowers, and birds; George and John Hancock, for flowers; Cuthbert Lowton, for hunting subjects; George Mellor, gilder; William Pegg, for flower and plant painting; William Taylor, for Oriental subjects; John Haslem, Cotton, and Askew, figure painters.

Nearly all the fine vases in the Sevres style, figures and groups made under the management of Sprimont, at Chelsea, were reproduced, and some new models and designs added. The ribbed, fluted, and diamond pressed tea and coffee services, gilt edged and bordered with floral festoons, and decorated with finely painted flowers belong mostly to the Chelsea-Derby period.

At this time Derby porcelain seems to have been costly, as Dr. Johnson, on a visit to the Derby works in 1777, observed "that he could have vessels of silver, of the same size, as cheap as what were hero made of porcelain." During the third or Crown-Derby period, when the works wore carried on at Derby alone, until the purchase of the factory by Moor, some splendid services wore executed, amongst them a dessert service of 120 pieces, for the Prince of Wales in 1788, a service for the Earl of Shrewsbury, fruit subjects on a ground of chrome green, another for the Duke of Devonshire, with views of Chatsworth, Hardwick, &c., elegant services for Lord Muncastor and Lord Ongloy, with historical designs.

A favourite shape for vases under Duesbury's management was the ancient Greek "Kmtor" and the "Hydria," in various modifications, decorated with exotic birds, landscapes, or bouquets in medallions, or simply with floral scrolls, in which a peculiar red and profuse gilding predominates. The tea and coffee sets made in the second Duosbury's time are more frequently plain than ribbed or fluted, and many specimens decorated in the Japan style—the patterns distinguished by different names as, "Old Japan," "Rock Japan," "Grecian Japan," "Witches Japan." Single flowers, "Chantilly" pattern, generally executed in blue, but sometimes found in green and pink, and occasionally edged in gold, were likewise favourite patterns of this period.

The fourth period, under Bloor, 1815 to 1849, must be considered as a period of decline, working more for quantity than for quality. The service consisting of bowls and dishes inscribed with Persian characters on gold ground, executed in 1819 for the Persian Ambassador, may be quoted as an exception.

Towards the and of the last century, white Derby china was sold to be painted by amateurs, which explains the tastelessly decorated specimens frequently met with. This white china may perhaps have emanated from a small factory established by two of Mr. Duesbury's workmen, in the neighbourhood of Friar-gate.

The marks on Derby china changed with the four periods mentioned above. Before 1769 the mark, if any, was a simple D, or. the word " Derby," printed in rod or scratched in the clay. After the union of the Chelsea and Derby works, the anchor of Chelsea crossing a capital D was adopted, but shortly after this the crown first appears above an anchor or over a capital D, generally in blue, rarely in puce or gold.

John Coke established a manufactory of porcelain at Pinxton, near Alfreton, in Derbyshire, between 1793 and 1795, and secured the co-operation of William Billingsley, the flower painter, from the Derby works. The latter brought with him experienced workmen, and the recipe for a fine transparent paste greatly resembling the porcelain body which was afterwards made at Nant-garw. Billingsley left the concern at the beginning of the present century, and as the secret of the body and glaze went with him to Nant-garw, only porcelain of an inferior quality was produced at Pinxton afterwards. The works were then conducted for seven or eight years by John Coke alone, and subsequently passed into the hands of Cutts, the painter and foreman of Coke. The Pinxton works were closed about 1812, but their site is still known as Factory-square and China House-square.

The Pinxton porcelain was of soft paste, and frequently decorated with the French sprig or Chantilly pattern, a small blue cornflower or forgot-mo-not and a gold sprig, edged with gold. The pattern was copied from Angoulame china ; bouquets of flowers and landscapes likewise occur.

A peculiar production of the Pinxton works are circular porcelain tokens for 5s., 7s., and 10s., with the inscription "Let the bearer have in goods 7s.," and on the other side "which place to the account of John Coke, Pinxton, Dec. 4, 1801." Although a mark was rarely used at Pinxton, on some specimens a cursive "P" is found.

Mr. Chaffers in his book, "Marks and Monograms," mentions two other porcelain manufactories in Derbyshire. The one at Wirksworth, established by a Mr. Gill, about 1770, and the other at Church Gresley, in existence about twenty years between 1795 and 1825. No reliable particulars or marks of those two china works are known.

In our issue of July 1, reference was made in a short paragraph to the Bournes' Potteries at Bolper and Denby, in Derbyshire, as being an old concern, but in reference to which we had no particulars as to its origin or history. Since the publication of the paragraph referred to, we have been able to learn the following particulars respecting the concern, which, we think, may interest our readers:

The firm, now widely known as Joseph Bourne & Son, of Denby Pottery, near Derby, originated about the year 1809. At this date, and for some years previously, a stone and brown ware manufactory existed at Bolper, which was purchased about the date named by Mr. William Bourne.

A bed of superior clay being discovered at Denby about the same date, an individual of the name of Jager commenced the manufacture of stoneware.

In the year 1812 Mr. Joseph Bourne, son of the before-mentioned William Bourne, who had carried on the works at Belper, obtained possession of the Denby works, and the two concerns wore carried on as one firm until the year 1834, when the works at Belper were closed, and the plant removed to Denby.

About the same time Mr. Joseph Bourne obtained possession of a similar manufactory at Clothier Park, a village situated in the now well-known Erewash Volley. This manufactory had been erected by the Butterloy Iron and Coal Company. It was closed in the year 1861, and extensive additions were made at Denby to accommodate the workmen.

In addition to the various works already mentioned, Mr. Joseph Bourne secured possession, about the year 1838, of a similar manufactory at Shipley, near Heanor, in the county of Derby.

These works were erected by Mr. Edward Miller Mundy, who let them to a number of workmen from Staffordshire, and who for some lime produced the yellow and Rockingham ware.

On Mr. Mundy's estate were extensive coal mines, and at this period the working of these mines seems to have originated a supply of saline and chalybeate waters, and an extensive trade appears to have resulted from the demand for stone bottles, in which to supply the waters.

Excellent specimens of stone bottles are extant bearing the motto, in allusion to the virtues of the waters, "In me suprema salus."

The Shipley works were discontinued in the year 1859, and the Denby concern was increased to that extent.

Beyond these continual additions from extraneous sources, the manufactory at Denby had itself boon expanded, and is now one of the largest in the kingdom.

The most modern machinery has been applied to the preparation of the clay, and this, added to the natural excellence of the material, has enabled the firm to extend its connections to all parts of the world.

All kinds of stoneware and brownware goods are produced. The hard and vitreous character of the material renders it specially adapted for ink, blacking, and similar substances, whilst it is non-absorbent under the great pressure generated in ginger beer or ale and porter bottles. For a similar reason the firm have been able to make quite a specialty of their stoneware telegraphic insulators. For a number of years they possessed the exclusive right of manufacturing the celebrated Double V insulators patented by Mr. Varley, and this is now one of the largest departments of the concern.


(1) English Pottery and Porcelain: being a Concise Account of the Development of the Potter's Art in England. London: The Bazaar Office, 170, Strand, W.C.


Keywords:Varley : Joseph Bourne & Son
Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Elton Gish
Date completed:September 26, 2010 by: Elton Gish;