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William "Quaker" Pegg Bicentenary Exhibition, 1813 - 2013.
(Originally featured on our web site during the spring/summer of 2013)

In 1813 William "Quaker" Pegg returned to the Nottingham Road factory at Derby for what was to become known as his "Second Period".   During the seven years that followed, he produced some of the finest floral decoration that has ever been seen on English porcelain.  It is prized by collectors the world over for its flamboyant, yet natural style. This exhibition is intended to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pegg's return to Derby, the start of his glorious Second Period.

First Period, 1796 - 1801.

Born at Whitmore, near Newcastle-under-Lyme on 10th May 1775, his family moved to Shelton in the Potteries two years later.  In 1785 at just 10 years of age, Pegg was put to work in an earthenware factory.  Three years later he began to learn the art of decorating on earthenware before becoming apprenticed to a china factory in 1790.  In the autumn of 1796, having completed his apprenticeship he moved to Derby to begin his employment at the Nottingham Road factory.

Not a great deal is known of Pegg's work during the five years of his first period.  As a young artist and new employee he would presumably have painted in the style and manner he was told by his employer, making it difficult to identify his work.  For this reason we show few examples here, giving provenance where possible.

Derby square dessert dish, decorated by William "Quaker Pegg c1800.  It is unmarked.  This is an extremely important and well documented dish.  Haslem tells how Pegg himself recounted the story to him, of how he picked the original "Lady Thistle" whilst taking a walk on Nun's Green one Whitsun holiday and sketched it.  On seeing the coloured sketch, Thomas Soar, Master Gilder and overlooker of the painters, gave him the square dish to paint it.  It was kept at the factory from that day until it closed in 1848 and used as a study piece for the painters. 

(See J. Haslem, The Old Derby China Factory, p95.) 

(Image courtesy of Derby Museums.)

The coffee can featured above can be found in the sale catalogue of the Anthony Hoyte collection at Neales of Nottingham, 1st May 2003 (Lot 51), with an attribution to William "Quaker" Pegg.  It is described as "painted with a deep continuous panel of roses and other richly coloured blooms and leaves on a black ground the gilt cable-and-dot borders between gilt lines, 2 1/2 in (6.5cm) high, crown, crossed batons, dots and D in puce, c1800". (Private collection.)

D. A. Hoyte, Flowers And Skips, Antique Dealer and Collectors Guide, February 1990, p34, pl. 4, for this coffee can.
D. A. Hoyte, A Review Of Derby Porcelain Ceramics, p. 62, pl. 18 and 19, for this shape and artist.


The Hoyte, Foden and Seage collections.

The two plates shown above are both attributed to Pegg during his first period at Derby.  The plate to the left is decorated in pattern 215 and the plate to the right in pattern 240.  Both date to c1795-1800 and are marked with the usual Derby crossed batons mark, the left hand plate being marked in blue and the right hand one in puce.  A member has advised us that the pattern 215 plate can also appear with a puce mark.

Pattern 240 is the only plate pattern attributed to Pegg in the Old Derby Pattern Books, saying "5 Compartments, flowers by Peg (sic), fawn Ground, these three Round".

The pattern 215 plate has the same "warm olive ground" as pattern 475 in the Old Derby Tea Pattern Book, which again mentions Pegg as the artist. The central flower painting is of a very similar style to the pattern 475 pieces in the Charles Norman Collection, making an attribution to Pegg quite likely.

(The left hand image courtesy of Forgotten Treasures, the right hand image Courtesy of Nicholas Gent Ceramics)

Second Period, 1813 - 1820.

In his 39th year, Pegg returned to Derby to resume his career as a china painter, having written in April 1813 that he had "lost that feeling which induced me to give up china painting".  This was to be the start of his finest period, when he produced the flower painting many consider to be the greatest of all time. 

Soon after returning to the factory in 1813, Pegg once again painted a lady thistle, this time on a shell-shaped dessert dish (right).  This dish is still held at the Royal Crown Derby Museum, along with the preparatory sketch.  It is marked in red with a neatly drawn crossed baton mark together with the title "Ladies Thistle", c1813-15. 

(Image courtesy of Royal Crown Derby Museum.)

Important Derby basket or comport, decorated in typical flamboyant style by Pegg to both upper and lower surfaces.  Marked with a crown, crossed batons, dots and D in red c1813-20.
(Private collection.)

Derby ice pail decorated by Pegg c1813 - 1820.  Marked with a crown, crossed batons, dots and D in red with the titles Moss Rose and Passion Flower.  Also marked beneath the lid with a similar crossed baton mark and the titles Tulip, Nasturtium, Poppy and Heartsease.
(Private collection.)

Second Period Plates.

The three plates above are all decorated by Pegg in his second period.

  • To the left is decorated with "Apple Blossom" c1815.  Title and mark in red.  (Courtesy of Nicholas Gent Ceramics).

  • In the centre is a plate of the Heber Percy pattern, painted with "Mundi Rose" c1815.  Title and mark in red.  (Courtesy of Royal Crown Derby Museum)

  • To the right, a plate decorated with "Anemone" c1815.  Title and mark in red.  See John Twitchett, "Derby Porcelain 1748-1848, An Illustrated Guide", colour plate 51, for similar.  (Courtesy of Forgotten Treasures)

Pegg at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The three plates above, all decorated by Pegg, are all in the collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

  • To the left is a plate measuring 22.4cm, c1813-15.  Marked with the crossed batons mark, the colour not given.

  • To the centre, a plate measuring 25.7cm, c1815.  Marked with the crossed batons mark, colour not given.

  • To the right, a plate measuring 22.9cm,  c1813-15.  Marked with the crossed batons mark, colour not given.

  • (All images by permission of the Victoria and Albert Museum)

The Pegg Sketchbook.

To the left are a few images from the signed Pegg sketchbook, discovered by John Twitchett.  Pegg started the sketchbook in 1813 when he re-joined the Derby factory and remains in the Museum at Royal Crown Derby today.  We are very grateful to them for allowing us to reproduce these three fabulous images.


Ref - Twitchett J.  Derby Porcelain 1748-1848, An Illustrated Guide, page 94.

To the right you can see an original watercolour, unsigned but strongly attributed to William "Quaker" Pegg.  The style of painting is very reminiscent of the other examples of his work on this page.

(Image courtesy of Nicholas Gent Ceramics)

Sampson Hancock and William "Quaker" Pegg.

In later life, Pegg became a shop keeper, having a hucksters shop at 38 Nottingham Road, Derby, close to the old factory site.  Sampson Hancock lived just up the road at number 55.  In an interview with a journalist in 1894, Hancock recalls walking past Pegg's shop to go to work each day at the King Street factory in Derby.  Hancock said -

"In the humble window of his shop was a marvellous performance in masterly water-colour of a group of red herrings,
to seduce the passer by into purchasing the succulent if strongly-scented, edible within."

Pegg died in 1851, so for Hancock to have remembered this watercolour over 40 years later, it must have been quite something.  If only we knew what had become of it!

(For more information, see "I Was Born in China so To Speak, The Life Story of Sampson Hancock" by Cherryl Head, DPIS Journal 4.)

Quaker Pegg by George Drury.

Published by the author in 2011, this 83 page book looks into the life, times, work and beliefs of William "Quaker" Pegg.  It is the most definitive work yet on this most gifted, yet troubled artist and contains 17 colour photos of Pegg's watercolour and ceramic works.

The book may be purchased direct from the author.  Please contact George Drury on

Please do NOT contact the Society for details of the book.

Publications used compiling this exhibition and suggested reading -
1.  Twitchett, J. Derby Porcelain 1748-1848, An Illustrated Guide.
2.  Haslem, J. The Old Derby China Factory.
3.  Hoyte, A.  The Charles Norman Collection of 18th Century Derby Porcelain.
4.  Neales of Nottingham,  Sale Catalogue, The Anthony Hoyte Collection of Derby Porcelain, Thursday 1st May 2003.
5.  Drury, G.  Quaker Pegg.
6.  Murdoch J. & Twitchett J.,  Painters and the Derby China Works.

Society Publications -
Journal 2 - Derby Botanical Dessert Services 1791-1811 by Andrew Ledger.

The Society believes that the attributions to William "Quaker" Pegg shown on the Society's web site are correct.
Naturally the attributions cannot be guaranteed as accurate.

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