Blue and white china is one of the most popular collectibles ever. With its clean look and easy to use style, this is no surprise. Blue and white china can be incorporated into so many decorating schemes, and for those lacking a motif, blue and white is an easy way to make a decorating statement.
My first attraction to blue and white china was when as a child, I received a sweet little plastic blue and white bulb holder dish one winter.
This cheap imitation, decorated with Holland scenes, was perfect for the bulbs that were housed in it and watching the color of a spring bulb appear in the Holland setting was a bit of magic.
This is another reason to love blue and white china — the scenes so often pictured on the plates, platters, pitchers and other pieces are interesting.
Pastoral and detailed scenes often include castles, cathedrals, rivers and people arranged in soft settings. With the popularity of toile today, these scenes attract enduring attention.
Many of the scenes are European standards, like a Parisian chateau or English hunt scene. Others can be found that depict moments in America’s history, such as the landing at Plymouth Rock or New York City’s City Hall. Rims of plates and bases of pitchers are usually embellished further with Oriental flower themes or classic designs.
Staffordshire, England was the hub of blue and white.
With many kilns and creators, Staffordshire has turned out award-winning porcelain since the 1700s. Factories like Adams, Davenport, Ridgway, Rowland & Marsellus, Royal Doulton, Royal Worcester, Spode and Wedgwood are the famous names of Staffordshire.
The blue color on the body of the porcelain comes from cobalt and experts can identify the region of the work by the intensity of the blue, for example English versus Japanese or Chinese blues.
For collectors that are just starting out, an encyclopedia or other reference book on china is necessary just to sort out the many different makers, marks and traits of important pieces. Blue and white includes flow blue china too.
Flow blue is always important and can be found at antiques shows, shops and auctions. Forever popular, it derives its descriptive name from the manner in which the cobalt coloring is added to the white body of the china, creating that distinctive blue flowing on white look.
Popular with kiln workers about 1825 through 1860 and again from 1880 through the turn of the 20th century, the blurring effect of the coloring occurs when a chemical vapor is released into the kiln during the process. The body of this type of china is ironstone.
Blue and white china can also be found in souvenir plates, cups and saucers, railroad china and other whimsies, meaning that if you get hooked on this collectible classification it may lead you into other collections.
Blue and white enthusiasts generally focus on one factory, pattern or look, to organize their collection. Of course, blue and white china is still being made so keep that in mind too and realize not every blue and white dish at a yard sale is antique — or even vintage.
The best thing about this style of china is its timelessness. It still looks right with just about any decorating scheme, so enjoy it this Thanksgiving!
For comments or suggestions on local treasures to be featured in Antique of the Week, Maureen Zambito can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing in care of this newspaper.
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