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Creamers and Small Jugs.

Creamers and small jugs have always been a popular subject for collectors, there are so many different shapes and styles which can add interest and diversity to a collection of tea wares, coffee cans etc when on display.  Their relative scarcity is an added attraction, with usually just one to every six tea or coffee place settings.  Therefore we've decided that for this on-line exhibition we would concentrate on these small items to show the diversity of shape and style that has been produced at the Derby factories from the very earliest times right up to the present day.  We hope you'll enjoy viewing them.

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The Beginning.

Research conducted by John Twitchett, former curator of the Royal Crown Derby Museum, suggests that porcelain production began in Derby in 1748.  Little is known of the production during the very earliest years but this little cream jug at the Victoria and Albert Museum must be one of the very earliest confirmed pieces of Derby porcelain, it being dated 1750.

The cream jug has a bulbous body with a spreading mouth and a scalloped flat base.  It has strawberries and leaves applied in relief and a loop handle.  Most importantly it is incised to the base with a D above 1750.  It is 8.9cm high.

There is a very similar cream jug in The British Museum, also incised with a D though without the incised date.

(Image by permission of the Victoria and Albert Museum.)

William Duesbury took over the Derby factory c1756 and from this point production increased at pace, quickly becoming a major player in the ceramic industry and able to compete more effectively in the British market against European competition.  Below are featured three creamers and a "dolphin ewer" produced during the following 15 years.

Top left - Sparrow beak jug with scroll handle, enamelled with two Chinese figures standing beside a table, the reverse with fighting cocks, the scenes divided by a large yellow vase, with iron red and gilt chain inner border.  8.5 cm high, c1758-60.

Ex Dr John Freeman collection.

(image and description by permission of Mellors & Kirk)

Top right - Small sparrow beak jug, decorated with a spray of flowers including a pink rose, the remainder decorated with smaller sprigs including a yellow rose, brown line rim, 8cm high, c1760.

(Private collection.)

Bottom left - A Derby cream jug of baluster shape with a strap handle and moulded with trailing flowers, painted in underglaze blue with trailing sprays and with double line inner border c1770.  11cm high.

Ex Dr John Freeman collection.

(Photo and description by permission of Mellors & Kirk.)

Bottom right - Moulded "dolphin" ewer decorated with flowers, sprigs and sprays and with a brown line rim, 8cm high to the top of the handle, c1765.

Ex Anthony Varnum collection.

(Private collection)

In 1770 William Duesbury took over the Chelsea factory, offering the possibility of further increasing production now that Derby had much better access to the London market.  Tea and coffee were principally luxury items and Derby's more affluent clients were looking for services to reflect this.

Below are three cream jugs from the Chelsea Derby period.  Whilst they follow a similar shape design, there are subtle differences.

To the left - A fluted cream jug, decorated with simple floral sprigs and with a rich blue and gilded border and a gilded foot c1775.  Marked with a conjoined anchor and D in gold, height 11cm.

(Private collection)

To the centre - An unusually small creamer, most probably from a cabaret service.  It is 8cm high, marked with a blue crown over D and dates to c1780-84.

(Private collection)

To the right - A spirally fluted Chelsea Derby cream jug of slender form with gilt strap handle, painted in green monochrome, heightened in gilt with a spray and scattered flowers c1780-84.  Height 11cm.

Ex Godden Reference collection
Ex Dr John Freeman collection

(Image and description by permission of Mellors & Kirk)

In 1784 the Chelsea factory was finally closed and all production and decoration of porcelain moved to Nottingham Road, Derby.  The production of tea and coffee services were still a primary source of business and Derby produced hundreds of different patterns on many different shapes.  Some patterns were simple and economic whilst others were more extravagant and sold to clients who wished to demonstrate their wealth. 

Below are six different cream jugs, all of similar shape though with variations of pattern and style.  Four have a plain body whilst the other two have a fluted body.  Four are decorated in standard patterns identifiable by pattern numbers corresponding with the Derby tea pattern books of the period whilst the other two were specific commissions.

  • Top left: Fluted cream jug decorated in pattern 465 c1795-1800.  Marked with a typical puce crossed batons mark with the pattern number below.  (Private collection)

  • Top centre: Cream jug of plain form decorated in pattern 333 c1795.  Marked with a typical crossed batons mark in puce with the pattern number below.  (Private collection)

  • Top right: Fluted cream jug decorated in pattern 110 c1785-1790.  Marked with a typical crossed batons mark in puce with the pattern number below together with a puce 2 by the foot rim indicating it was gilded by Jos Staples.  (Private collection)

  • Bottom right: Cream jug of plain form, decorated with a family crest of a phoenix rising from flames, believed to be related to the Seymour family and dating to c1790.  Marked with a typical crossed batons mark in puce together with a puce 1 by the foot rim indicating that it was gilded by Thomas Soar.  (Bamfords Fine Art Auctioneers)

  • Bottom centre: Cream jug with gold initials and band above, all with floral enhancements, this believed to be celebrating a marriage and dating to c1790-1795.  Marked with a typical crossed batons mark in puce together with a IV in puce by the foot rim.  For a similar tea pot, see "Derby Porcelain: Artistry from the 18th Century to the Present Day", the catalogue for the Society's exhibition in Birmingham, November 2017.  (Private collection)

  • Bottom right: Cream jug of plain form, decorated in pattern 178 c1790.  Marked with a typical puce crossed batons mark with 178 below and with gilders number 11 by the foot, also in puce.  (Bamfords Fine Art)

Whilst looking at this shape of cream jug it is interesting to see how it continued through to the two later factories.  Looking at the two jugs below, to the left is a King Street jug decorated in an imari pattern, marked with a red crossed swords mark and dating to the early 20th century.  To the right is a late 19th century Osmaston Road example which is decorated in the Queen's Pattern, which is better known for being an 18th century Worcester pattern.  Both these jugs were in the collection of Dr John Freeman and the image is by permission of Mellors & Kirk Fine Art Auctioneers.  

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Other shapes of cream jugs were produced at the end of the 18th century including the two different shaped jugs to the left.

  • On the left: A small cream jug from a cabaret service, decorated with the titled landscape "On the Trent, Derbyshire" and dating to c1790.  The very fine landscape painting is attributed to Zachariah Boreman.  The title, crossed batons mark and the pattern number 231 are found in blue on the base.  A similar cream jug with Boreman landscape though decorated in pattern 137 can be found in our "Derbyshire Landscapes" page on this website.  (By permission of the Victoria & Albert Museum)

  • On the right is a cream jug decorated in pattern 591 and dating to c1800.  (By permission of Bamfords Fine Art Auctioneers)

These three cream/small milk jugs date to the first part of the 19th century.

  • To the left, an example with early imari decoration which became a feature of Derby porcelain right through to the present day.  This example has a red crossed batons mark and dates to c1820 (Private collection)

  • In the centre, a similar shaped cream jug to the last but this time decorated with a landscape "View in Wales", attributed to Daniel Lucas.  It has the circular printed Bloor Derby mark in red and dates to c1825-30. (Private collection)

  • The right hand creamer is of quite a scarce shape having three stilt feet.  It is simply decorated with floral swags and is marked with a red, round Bloor Derby mark c1830 (Private collection)

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Before we leave the different shapes and styles of creamers and small jugs from the Nottingham Road era, it would be remiss not to look at the cow creamer and cover.  These date back to the patch mark period (c1760's) and John Twitchett in his book "Derby Porcelain 1748-1848, and Illustrated Guide" suggests that they have not survived in large numbers.  An early example with patch marks is shown above and to the left and is recorded as being 10cm high.  It probably dates to c1800.  Production of these creamers continued at the King Street factory, though still in small numbers, right through to the 1930's.  The example on the right is from the King Street factory and dates to c1930-32.  It bears the King Street crossed swords mark in red together with the monogram for the decorator Arnold Machin, also in red.  (Both images by permission of Bamfords Fine Art Auctioneers).  A white King Street cow creamer is recorded in the collection of Robin Blackwood and now is at Royal Crown Derby Museum.

After the closure of the Nottingham Road factory in 1848, a number of its former employees opened a new, small porcelain factory in King Street, Derby.  (For more details on this factory see our King Street page within the Porcelain tab on this website.)  Though small, this factory produced numerous tea and coffee services in various shapes, styles and decoration.  A selection of the creamers and small jugs are illustrated here.

Three small milk jugs made by the King Street factory:

  • To the left a jug with a  bulbous base, tapering to a shaped upturned spout with gilded rim, powder blue ground with colourful flower decoration, marked with the typical red crossed swords mark and dating to the early 20th century.  This is one of the 26 illustrated patterns which remain from the King Street Pattern Book dating to c1920 and now held in the Royal Crown Derby Museum.  (For more information see Blackwood and Head, "Old Crown Derby China Works: The King Street Factory 1849-1935, page 255.)  (Bamfords Fine Art Auctioneers).

  • In the centre is an extravagantly decorated small milk jug with a band of colourful flowers and leaves set between two bands of lavish gilding.  It is marked with a red crossed swords mark with two parallel lines for Harry Sampson Hancock.  (Private collection)

  • To the right, one of a series of small jugs, specially produced for Alfred Goodey to present to his friends.  To one side is a silhouette of Goodey within a gilt, oval cartouche, to the reverse is a silhouette of Frank Smith in a similar cartouche, inscribed in gilt To Good Friendship.The jug is 12 cm high, marked with the red King Street crossed swords mark and is signed by William Mosley.  It dates to c1930. (Bamfords Fine Art Auctioneers) 

To the left are five different shapes of creamers or small milk jugs, all from the King Street factory and all marked with the red crossed swords mark.  They date to the late 19th or early 20th century.

All are decorated in Imari patterns and whilst there are just two basic patterns shown here, there are small variations.  It should be remembered that all King Street pieces are hand decorated, there is not believed to be any transfer ware from that factory.  It was left to the decorator to fit the pattern to the shape, to best effect.

It would certainly be possible for an enthusiastic collector to build a large collection of Imari decorated cream jugs of different shape and pattern variation, indeed all the jugs illustrated to the left have come from one private collection.

The King Street factory also produced many miniature jugs, all around 5.5cm high and marked with a red crossed swords mark.  They probably date to the early 20th century, but the possibility of them being slightly earlier cannot be ruled out. 


Just above and too the left is a selection of a few of these miniature jugs in various patterns, the  two hexagonal jugs may have originally come with a very small hexagonal bowl in the same pattern.  (Private collection)


Below is an image of three similar jugs in various patterns.  (Bamfords Fine Art Auctioneers)

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Finally from the King Street factory we have these two very squat jugs.  To the far left the jug is decorated in a simple green ground with white border with delicate gilding, whilst alongside is a jug decorated in the "Rose Barbeau" pattern.  This pattern, first produced at Nottingham Road in the early 19th century, continued through to the 20th century and must have been very popular with Derby clients.  Both are marked with the red crossed swords mark and are of late 19th century/early 20th century manufacture.

(Private collection)

Lastly we come to the creamers and other small jugs produced at the Osmaston Road factory in Derby, where fine porcelain of the highest quality is still manufactured today.  Production has been continuous here for about 140 years with a very wide range of shapes and patterns made for the top end of the market.  We're featuring a few examples here from various periods right up to the present day.

To the left we feature three small cream jugs decorated in various Imari patterns.

  • On the far left is a small jug decorated in pattern 2451, marked in red with Royal Crown Derby and England vertically and with the date cypher for 1909.

  • In the centre is a jug in a more unusual Imari pattern with date cypher for 1920

  • To the right is a jug decorated in Imari pattern 383, also known as the "Kings Pattern" with red Royal Crown Derby and Made in England mark with date cypher 1924.  (Private collection).

Above are displayed four more small jugs or creamers from the Osmaston Road factory -

  • The first two are of the same shape but different patterns and are from quite different periods showing the popularity and longevity of the shape.  The left hand jug has a red Royal Crown Derby with vertical England mark and date cypher for 1891.  Next to it the yellow ground jug has a green Royal Crown Derby, Made in England mark with date cypher for 1940, almost 50 years later than the first.

  • The centre right jug is actually a miniature jug, about 4.5 cm high and would possibly have originally come with a miniature bowl.  It is marked with a red Royal Crown Derby and vertical England with the date cypher for 1904.

  • Finally on the right is a more elaborately decorated and shaped jug with two pink roses within a gold cartouche and green tendrils to the sides.  It has the red Royal Crown Derby, Made in England mark with date cypher for 1933.  (All private collection).

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RCD Dali base Bev a.JPG

During the 1930's, Royal Crown Derby worked with the surrealist artist Salvador Dali to produce a quite memorable tea service.  At first glance the design is for a typical floral pattern, however the flowers have been replaced by pink gloves.  Why pink gloves?  Nobody knows, but such a design is typical of the surrealist movement and indicative of the designer, Dali.  Below the typical Royal Crown Derby mark there is the date cypher for 1939.  (Main image by permission of Bamfords Fine Art Auctioneers)

We're now well into the 21st century and Royal Crown Derby are still producing quality tea and coffee services including interesting and very collectable cream jugs.  Todays production could well become the mainstay of our members collections in a few years time.

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RCD Satori Black_edited.jpg

Two cream jugs from Royal Crown Derby's current production are featured above, the first is from a series right at the top of the range, the second a very "on trend" design.

  • To the left is a cream jug decorated in the "Pearly Palace" pattern which has raised gilding in both gold and platinum.  This is one of three "Palace" patterns, the other two being "Turquoise Palace" and "Amber Palace".  It's design is based on the company's heritage, collectors will note features of the design which trace back over 200 years.

  • To the right is the on trend pattern "Satori Black", a modern style designed to meet modern tastes.                       (Both images by permission of Royal Crown Derby.)

The Society would like to thank the following for their assistance and co-operation in the building of this on-line exhibition:

  • Royal Crown Derby Museum

  • Victoria and Albert Museum

  • Bamfords Fine Art Auctioneers

  • Mellors and Kirk Fine Art Auctioneers

  • Royal Crown Derby

  • Our members who allowed us access to, and photographs from their collections.

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