English Porcelain Factories - Derby

It has been suggested that the Derby factory was making porcelain as early as 1745, but the earliest actual evidence is a number of white cream jugs inscribed with the name of the town and the date 1750. William Duesbury, who had been a painter of figures bought in the white, became proprietor at some date before 1760, and Derby ware began to be advertised as 'the second Dresden'. Duesbury bought up the Longton Hall factory and also those at Bow and Chelsea; all three of which he closed eventually and concentrated his energies on Derby. On his death in 1786 he was succeeded by his son, and after some further changes the factory was bought by Robert Bloor and closed finally in 1848.

The earliest pieces are unmarked and not easy to recognize; the figures have unglazed bases with the glaze shrinking away from the edge, and a funnel-shaped hole in the centre. Later wares include a large number of figures, usually made in pairs, of which the characteristic feature is the presence under the base of three or four dirty patches, each about half an inch in diameter, where the piece stood on flat pads of clay in the kiln. Although these patch-marks appear occasionally on the products of other factories, their presence is consistent with Derby and they are rarely missing. A further feature that distinguishes most of these figures is the use of an opaque turquoise green paint in the decoration; a green that is often stained brown.

Shortly after 1770 groups and figures were made and sold unglazed, as biscuit. These were very highly finished, for there would be no glaze or colour to hide defects, and were sold at higher prices than their painted counterparts. Most of the figures made at this time were marked with a number under the base, which corresponds with published lists giving the title and selling-price.

The following period, from 1784 to 1811, is known as Crown-Derby, when the wares bore a mark incorporating a crown. Fine tablewares were then a specialty, and many had elaborate coloured and gilt borders surrounding a carefully painted landscape scene. A number of painters were employed, each specializing in his own subject.

Between 1811 and the closing of the factory much tableware was painted vividly in pseudo-Japanese patterns, but some of the earlier styles were continued.

Porcelain Marking
Porcelain Marking
In red or gold. 'Chelsea-Derby' 1770-84 Incised under the base of figures; a list of the mould numbers is in Haslem's book The Old Derby China Factory (1876). 1770-1800
Porcelain Marking
Incised or in colour. 1770-1848

Collectable Antiques: