top of page
Blue & White Porcelain.

When collectors of English porcelain think of blue & white wares, Derby is not usually the first factory to come to mind.  People more readily think of Worcester, then maybe Liverpool, Caughley, Lowestoft or one of the other smaller manufactories.  Whilst Derby was one of the largest and most important manufactories during the 18th century, the quantity of blue & white porcelain it produced was quite modest.  A likely explanation for this was that the Derby body was better suited to a more expensive, higher class of product which William Duesbury was able to exploit very successfully by marketing to the wealthy through his London showroom.  His take-over of the Chelsea factory, itself not known for blue & white porcelain, being part of this marketing strategy.

Despite this, Derby did produce porcelain decorated in underglaze blue and this is often overlooked by collectors.  We hope this exhibition will help to bring this particular feature of Derby production more to the fore, stimulating further interest, research and collecting.

Like the early Nottingham Road factory, the two later Derby factories at King Street and Osmaston Road produced very limited quantities of blue and white wares, with those from King Street especially hard to find.  Can anybody help us with other examples?

Extremely Rare Dated Chestnut Basket & Cover, 1762.

This is an extremely rare and very important Derby chestnut basket and cover which carries a date in underglaze blue inside the cover - "August 1762".  Dated pieces are extremely rare and proves quite conclusively that blue and white decorated porcelain was being produced in Derby at least by the middle of 1762.  We can only speculate why the piece carries a date.  Does anyone have any other dated pieces of Derby blue and white porcelain?  If so, please let us know.

Provenance: Godden Reference Collection,  On display in the ceramic gallery at Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

Ref: Geoffrey Godden, Godden's Guide to English Blue and White Porcelain pp. 193, 194, 196.

(Images by kind permission of Derby Museums.) 

Sweetmeats Centrepiece.

Sweetmeat table centrepiece c1760.  Formed of seven shells in three tiers on a framework encrusted with applied shells and coral picked out in blue, the interior of each shell painted with various flowers and insects, the upper shell containing a small moulded shell.  Marked with patch marks and an indistinct modellers mark.  30cm high x 23.5cm wide.

(Private collection)

Pickle Dishes, Asparagus Servers and Other Small Useful Pieces.

Three examples of Derby blue and white pickle leaf dishes, the first two being decorated in underglaze blue with a floral spray and vine tendrils, the third unusually in dry blue.  All date to c1765-75.

(Images by kind permission of Forgotten Treasures) 

Three examples of Derby asparagus servers, the first two decorated in underglaze blue, the third in dry blue.  All are c1770-80 and are from the collection of Dr John Freeman.

(Images by kind permission of Mellors & Kirk Fine Art Auctioneers) 

To the far left are two wine tasters, the first with an ogee shaped bowl with lobed rim and leaf shaped handle c1770, the second of compressed form, lobed on the exterior with pierced scrolled handle c1770.  Both have floral decoration. 


Next is a butter boat of leaf shape with angular handle on three leafy pad feet, decorated with an oriental scene c1780 and finally a pickle dish in the form of a scallop shell with floral decoration c1775-80. 


Provenance: The Dr John Freeman Collection.  (Images by kind permission of Mellors & Kirk Fine Art Auctioneers.)

A pierced spoon, possibly for sifting or separating, decorated with leafy sprigs c1775-80.

A wine taster, moulded externally with sixteen lobes, an everted rim and a cut-out shaped handle c1768.  For similar see Bradley, Ceramics of Derbyshire 1750-1975, p. 134.


(Private Collection)

Plates, Bowls, Baskets etc.

To the far left is a rare Derby dessert dish, moulded in the form of a large blue fringed leaf laid in an oval basket, the stalk forming the handle, painted in underglaze blue with a Chinese building and fence with pine and willow trees surrounded by four large peony flowers, 22cm, patch marks c1760.

Next is an oval dish painted with an interior scene with a Chinese scholar and boy with a besom within a wide diaper border with four panels of flowering peony, the underside (not shown) with two island landscapes and fishermen in boats, 28cm, painted with pseudo Chenghua mark, c1770-75.

The third is a plate with feather moulded border, painted with a blue Chinese temple, fence, pine and other trees, with an elaborate floral lappet border c1760.

Provenance: All from the Dr John Freeman Collection. (Images by kind permission of Mellors & Kirk Fine art Auctioneers) 

To the left is a Derby plate with fluted border, printed in dark underglaze blue with peony, chrysanthemum and other flowers and seed pods in a patterned jardinière, with a painted formal border and scalloped rim.  There is a blue painted double circle to the base.  (Middle image).  22cm diameter, c1770-75.

Prov: Dr John Freeman Collection.

The third image is of a stand, probably for a chestnut basket, with a border moulded with basketwork and applied flowers at intersections, the border containing four scroll-moulded panels painted with an insect, the centre painted with a Chinese building and fenced enclosure with a large moth in flight.  Diam: 21cm, c1762.  For similar, see Bradley, Ceramics of Derbyshire, 1750-1975, P. 128 Pl. 208.     (Private Collection)

To the far left is a reticulated dessert basket of oval shape, the centre painted with a Chinese building within a fenced garden on a wooded island, the pierced basketwork border with applied florets on the external intersections, the entwined handles with floret terminals.  Size 22x16cm, c1760-65.

Along side is a chestnut basket and cover, the body relief moulded, the cover reticulated, the body with applied sprays of flowers and foliage, the interior with octagonal panels each with a pagoda and willow tree.  Diam: 16.5cm, c1762.

Tea and Coffee Wares and Other Drinking Vessels.

To the left is a Derby coffee cup of reeded form with strap handle, painted in underglaze blue with plantain and tendrils c1760.


Next is a Derby coffee cup painted in underglaze blue with the Cannonball pattern c1770.


Next is a Derby mug of baluster shape printed with the Boy on a Buffalo pattern c1770.


Finally a Derby tankard of slightly tapered cylindrical shape, transfer printed with L'Oiseau Chinois and Convolvulus Swags, the reverse printed with La Dame Chinoise (not shown).  Ref: A Bambery, A group of Transfer Prints used at Derby, Associated with Richard Holdship, DPIS Journal 5.


Prov: Dr John Freeman Collection (Images by kind permission of Mellors & Kirk Fine Art Auctioneers) 

From the left, we have a Derby toy teapot and cover of globular shape with loop handle, painted to either side with a Chinese island flanked by trees, 7cm h, c1765.


Next is a Derby coffee pot and cover of cylindrical shape, transfer printed with the Boy on a Buffalo pattern and the Spinning Maiden to the reverse (not shown), patchmarks, 20cm h, c1770.  Illustrated in Twitchett, Derby Porcelain 1748-1848, An Illustrated Guide, p. 192.


Next is a Derby saucer dish, painted in underglaze blue with an unusual scene of Chinese figures by a table with vase, flowers etc., 16cm diam, c1760.

Finally a Derby cream jug of baluster shape with strap handle and moulded trailing flowers, painted in underglaze blue, 11cm h, c1775.

Provenance: All from the Dr John Freeman collection, images by kind permission of Mellors & Kirk Fine Art Auctioneers. 

Crossed Batons Wears.

Examples of blue and white become very difficult to find as you enter the crossed batons period.  However here is an example of a coffee can in "cold" blue, a different process to underglaze blue where the enamel is applied over the body glaze.  Cold blue decoration required a lower firing temperature in the kiln - hence the term cold - where the temperature is just sufficient to soften the previously applied glaze allowing the added blue enamel to fuse with it.  This coffee can is not marked with a pattern number and dates to c1785.

(Private Collection)

Bloor Period.

A rare Bloor Derby osier moulded coffee cup and saucer with lobed rims and wishbone handle, decorated in underglaze blue with a gilliflower pattern with surrounding sprigs and bugs.  Marked to the base with the Bloor Derby riband mark in blue and dating to c1835-45.  (Private Collection)


The King Street Factory.

Blue and white decoration on the porcelain manufactured at the King Street factory is extremely rare.  There was no transfer printing done at King Street, so any examples which survive must be hand painted.  For the purposes of this exhibition we have only managed to locate two examples and would be very keen to hear from our members or friends who view the exhibition if they know of any others.

A very rare King Street tea bowl, decorated in underglaze blue with a continuous oriental scene of a temple, a pagoda, a bridge with figures walking across, assorted trees and plants and with birds in flight.  Inside the tea bowl is a scene of islands with trees and what appears to be a fisherman in a boat.  The decoration is in the style of the 18th century blue and white patterns, but not one we recognise.  We believe the artist to be Sampson Hancock, dating the pieces to pre 1895.

The reason for the manufacture of this tea bowl is unclear.  Any tea bowls from King Street are rare, the fashion for cups with handles had become well established before the factory at King Street opened.  It is most unlikely it was made as a replacement piece for an old blue and white service, would anybody be looking for replacements for a service that may at that time be 100 years old?  Also if a replacement, it would surely be decorated in a recognisable pattern.  If you have any thoughts or ideas, we'd be happy to hear from you.

(Private Collection)

A very rare King Street bough pot, decorated with flowers in a soft shade of underglaze blue. 


Ref: Old Crown Derby China Works, The King Street Factory, 1849-1935 by Blackwood & Head, page 375


Displayed in "The Factory at King Street, 1849-1935", an exhibition held at the Museum and Art Gallery, Derby in 1993, catalogue number 99.


(Images by kind permission of Royal Crown Derby Museum.)


The Osmaston Road Factory.

As to be expected, the production of blue and white decorated porcelain at the Osmaston Road factory was small.  There are examples though, with probably the best known of this being shipping scenes found on all types and shapes of wares and produced during the late 19th - early 20th century.  The majority of these pieces tend to be unsigned, but they usually get attributed to W. E. J. Dean.  In fact, there were a number of artists decorating in this style including Fred Marple and an artist called Remnant about whom little is known.  In John Twitchett and Betty Bailey's book on Royal Crown Derby, Remnant commands just one line of text in the chapter "Designers, Modellers, Painters and Gilders".  Therefore it should be remembered that only pieces signed by Dean can be accurately attributed to him, but those unsigned are still of interest and value.  We feature a few unsigned pieces here to demonstrate their quality.

Other blue and white patterns were produced at Osmaston Road and a few are featured here. 

Here we feature five very well painted and decorative pieces, each with superbly painted shipping scenes but all unsigned.  Care should always be taken when attributing artists to unsigned pieces as Royal Crown Derby had a number of artists capable of producing this quality of work.  All were produced in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. 

A pair of particularly fine and rare figures of Arabic water carriers.  Figures in blue and white are especially scarce.

(Please note, these photos don't enlarge)

To the far left is a teapot decorated in the "Wilmot" pattern, in the centre is a trio decorated in the "Star Wreath" pattern and finally is a bamboo shaped plate in the "Derby Daisy" pattern.

Dating to 1927 and so later than the earlier pieces with shipping scenes shown above, this small blue and white dish is signed W. E. J. Dean.  

The Society gratefully acknowledges the help and support of some of our members for allowing us to use images of pieces from their collections.   

We are also grateful to the Royal Crown Derby Museum, to Derby Museums, to Mellors & Kirk Fine Art Auctioneers and to Forgotten Treasures for allowing us to use images of which they own copyright.


Additional Information From One Of Our Members.

A member who is an experienced dealer in 18th century English porcelain has contacted us regarding the King Street blue and white bough pot in the exhibition above.  He gives us details of some Worcester bough pots c1760-1770 which are in exactly the same shape as the King Street example suggesting that it was made as a replacement.


To the far left is a blue and white Worcester example c1760 from the Zorensky Collection.


To the near left is a polychrome Worcester example c1768-70 from the Jeremy Lever Collection. 

(Both images by kind permission of Bonhams.) 

bottom of page